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On the ranch, On the road

Everyday miracle leaves lasting impression

The baby calf got up, wobbled ever so slightly and then confidently turned its attention to nursing.

It could be any farm or ranch across the country on any given day, but it just so happens that this day: he had an audience.

As the first of two tour buses rounded a corner on a windy stretch of Tennessee country roads, we spotted a miracle unfolding.

More than 120 people toured Deer Valley Farms as part of the Certified Angus Beef ® (CAB®) brand annual conference last week, and I was an observer of their observations.

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Both a cattleman and a restaurant owner, Jonathan Perry spent the day explaining one side of the beef business to the other.

In this instance, general manager Jonathan Perry–or “JP” as everyone called him by the end of the day—noticed the birth as quickly as his guests did. The cattleman told the driver to stop as he explained, “In five or ten minutes, that baby will stand for the first time and its mother will clean him off and instinct will send him straight back to his mama’s udder.”

As if on cue, the minutes-old baby did just that. I may have even felt the bus lean as the passengers craned to the driver’s side to get a good look and take pictures through the window.

It was a magic moment… one we often take for granted.

“It’s pretty special to get to sit and experience nature every day in your backyard,” JP said. It was obvious to the attendees, from Chicago to Charlotte, Nevada to New York and beyond. He probably said it just to remind himself.

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Twenty different feedstuffs, ranging from citrus pulp to cottonseed hulls, really gave attendees an idea of the diversity of cattle diets. Winners played for bragging rights and CAB door prizes.

As we headed to the farm’s sale facility for lunch, groups played a feedstuffs identification game (that even stumped the seasoned producers on the tour), guessed how long a hay bale would feed a cow and tried to determine the age of a calf. But that day’s newborn was the hot topic.

“Did you see that on your bus, too?” my lunch seatmate asked.

The restaurant owners, retail store managers, chefs and foodservice salesmen were united by this common experience. They got to see the CAB story at its very beginning.

I sat down with the team from Demoulas Market Basket, a chain of 78 stores in Boston and the surrounding areas. I wanted to know if walking along a few fences and shaking hands with a cattleman would help them as they headed back east at the end of the week.

Almost finishing each other’s sentences, I heard a resounding, “Yes!”

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The Demoulas “family” enjoyed their day at the farm. The team commented on how much of a science it is to raise high-quality beef.

“When you look at customers today, they’re more knowledgeable and more concerned about what they’re eating, what’s going on their plate and what they’re feeding their families than ever before.” said store director Christopher Dick, as fellow store director Ronald Lambert continued: “When somebody asked us about CAB…before we didn’t really have good information of what happens at the farm. It gives us more of an understanding from birth to plate.”

Their shoppers are “meat and potatoes” people who are looking for a value, but don’t confuse that with the very cheapest product. “It’s getting more for your dollar. That’s our slogan,” says Peter Fusi, Demoulas director of meat operations.

They talked passionately about their business, their customer and their “family” of fellow employees. Sounds a bit like the seedstock business that JP described earlier in the day.

“The consumer tells us our target and we figure out how to get to that target,” JP said.

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We saw the bulls, the working facilities, the pairs, the feedstuffs, and it all added up to a pretty complete picture of what goes on at Deer Valley.

But all the work that goes into matings and feeding would be worthless if not for someone who adds that something extra when making a beef sale.

“This is what we do every day and every night,” JP said. “If you guys don’t utilize and push and sell our product, we don’t have a livelihood, so we thank you.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

May your bottom line be filled with black ink,


blackinkmiranda Visit Website
I love God, my kids, my hubby, rural life, agriculture and working for CAB. I’m officially the director of producer communications, which basically means I get to learn from lots of smart people and pass that information along to lots of other smart people: you. I’m so lucky to work with cattle producers and other folks in this great industry. (Oh, and one more job perk? I get to eat lots of really yummy beef.)
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