Michael Pollan, a food writer and journalist, only eats meat about once a week. When he does eat it, he’s careful to purchase it from farmers who raise their animals humanely. “But it’s delicious, it’s nutritious and I think there is a place for farms where animals get to live a good life and, as the farmers like to say, have one bad day,” he says.
Sarilia is home to several cows. They graze freely among 120 acres of natural grasslands and drink from a natural spring. Overall, they have a great life, and when the time comes, they too have just “one bad day.”
The cows are co-owned between three Sarilia residents: Jordan, Joe and Gwen. We recently chatted with Jordan, to learn what it’s like to raise cattle in our river valley community.
How did you get involved in cattle raising?
I was born and raised on a cattle/grain farm. I’ve always enjoyed the cow side of farming so it was kind of nice to have a little bit of agriculture at Sarilia.
How would you describe the pasture to someone who hasn’t seen it?
It’s really quite pretty down in the coulees and the natural spring that runs through. It’s really a great place for a picnic actually. It’s just peaceful. I take my boys out and they feed the cows. It’s just kind of nice. There’s no cell service so it’s quiet.
What kinds of cows have you been raising at Sarilia?
This year we had four black heifers and two black angus cows, one speckled park cross cow and one Charolais cross cow. We also had a bull, temporarily, that we borrowed from a friend.
How old are your boys and what do they feed the cows?
Jaxon is five and Nash is one. We take oats to them once and awhile. They like to do that. I wish they were a little more scared of the cows (laughs), but they like it.
It’s just natural grasses, and a block of salt for them. I give them oats probably once every two weeks. Just to get them used to (people) coming up and keeping them calm.
Do you name the cows?
Jaxon likes to name them. The black and white cow (the speckled park) he calls “Chocolate Chip.” We actually had three calves out there this year so he called one calf “Joey” and the other one “Georgie.” We wanted to name it George, but it’s a girl so we named it Georgie. Gwen named our red cow “Emily.”
What is it like to co-own the cows with two other Sarilia residents?
It’s a lot of fun. We’re all partners. It works out really well. That way, if something happens to one animal, someone’s not out a whole animal, we’re all out a little bit. But that hasn’t happened. I’ve gotten to know Joe and Gwen really well through it.
What do you end up doing with the meat?
We make roasts, steak, ground beef and sausage. Joe likes liver so he takes the liver.
What have been the benefits of raising the cows here?
It’s good camaraderie with your neighbours. It’s good bonding with my boys, to take them out. It’s fun to watch the cows grow and how they really get used to you and learn to trust you. I really enjoyed checking on them in the summer and taking them oats. Just kind of watching their progress.
It’s probably nice to know where your food is coming from.
Exactly. And we know they range free all summer and they’re grass fed, so the meat is pretty lean. It’s nice to have control over your food.
What are your plans for next year?
We’re going to do a few fundraiser cows, with all the proceeds going back into Sarilia—whether it’s boardwalks or building warm up shacks for ice rinks down on the river.