Sid. And So Much More.

☆ May 3, 2016

I’m sitting on the kitchen floor, writing this on the blank back page of the phone book. I have a calf in my kitchen, and I’ve spent the majority of the weekend on the kitchen floor, myself. I’ve lost count of how many calves I’ve rescued or bottle fed or warmed back to life with towels and a warm fire, but each time, it feels like the most special responsibility.

sidsue

This calf was born Saturday morning, a twin, and his mother only accepted one calf (which is normal). Mike delivered the calf to me, saying “I know you’re so busy but can you take care of this?” And I was like, “Forget work! Forget email! Forget my Kickstarter! Give me that baby!” And I spent the weekend on the kitchen floor, first drying off the baby with towels, then warming some of my frozen stash of Daisy’s colostrum to bottle-feed him every few hours, then brushing him with a horse brush, then…. I don’t even know. It’s easy to just be with a baby.

I put Chloe on babysitting duty when I managed to tear myself away and retreat to my office. Chloe is slightly smaller than the calf and absolutely in love with him. She licks his face when he is awake and sleeps beside him when he sleeps. I feel it’s important he’s not left completely alone the first few days. This week, he’ll move into the front yard, and later he’ll join the rest of the cows – but I will keep bottle-feeding him.

Yesterday, Mike and were talking about how we wish he could be a kitchen calf forever, and possible names, and he mentioned Sid. Which I loooove. This is Sid. His eyes are iridescent gray.

sidsue2

Totally and completely related: Animal Cruelty Is The Price We Pay For Cheap Meat. If you eat meat, please read this. If you’re vegan and don’t understand why I started Star Brand Beef, please read this. My animals are deeply loved and I care for them with devotion. My mission in life is to give them a stress-free life. To make sure they are able to roam free on pasture and stay healthy on their natural diet of grass and hay. Star Brand Beef is the antithesis of factory-farmed meat. Pay a little bit more, eat a little bit less, and make a HUGE difference in the lives of the animals and the industry at large. Customers create change.

Mike was at the brewery and ran into a man who runs a feedlot in a neighboring town. This man was furious about the “all natural grass fat” trend. He said it was affecting his business. When Mike told me this I jumped for joy. Because I am no longer the only one around here doing what I’m doing. There are now a number of other local ranchers building their own niche businesses and keeping their cattle from going to feedlots. The fact that this kind of change is happening in my rural Wyoming county, to the extent that the local (albeit small) feedlot is feeling the effect? This is THRILLING.

HERE is my Star Brand Beef delivery route. Get yourself a chest freezer. Order the best, in bulk. Trust me, you’ll never go back to grocery store meat.

My Kickstarter ends Friday! If you would like any of the rewards – the postcard pack, the silk cowboy scarf, the Wyoming care package, a hand-painted skull – BACK THE KICKSTARTER! I will not, repeat, will not have these items in my Shop after the Kickstarter! Or, if you’d like to adopt a cow, you can do that through my Kickstarter, too. Sid is a perfect example. He will never be Star Brand Beef because milk replacer (baby formula for calves) is not organic. He will never be sold into The System because I just can’t do that. He will be among our Special Project cattle. As I state in my Kickstarter: They each take on valuable roles within the herd. This isn’t a “cost efficient” way to run a ranch (because it’s part animal sanctuary), but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Comments

56 Responses to “Sid. And So Much More.”

  1. Deborah Dutko
    May 3rd, 2016 @ 8:20 am

    Welcome to the world, Sid! You sure are sweet!

  2. Marg
    May 3rd, 2016 @ 8:28 am

    Welcome to the world Sid, you will learn how lucky you are. I know you are busy Shreve but here in Alberta there is a big stink going on about Humanely raised Beef. That covers all the things you do of course but I noticed in the news clips that some of the farmers are feeding their animals from troughs filled with pellets of some kind but they say their beef fits into the above category. Comments? To me it would be from the pasture to the butcher, not fattened by a pellet food.

  3. steve penney
    May 3rd, 2016 @ 8:29 am

    Good going young lady. The little ones are pretty irresistible. Thanks for sharing with us.

  4. Carol K
    May 3rd, 2016 @ 8:39 am

    What beautiful glossy fur! He’s a sweetheart.
    Do any of your ‘named’ cows go to slaughter? I think that would be hard.

  5. janice atkinson
    May 3rd, 2016 @ 8:40 am

    I live in the Northern Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. Beautiful. And like everyone here , really appreciate living here. I Live in a small community near Winchester and a mile and a half from a butcher shop and maybe 4 miles from the farm. They name the animals. I wish we had lived here forever not just the last 6 years. I completely understand what you are saying.

  6. Patr
    May 3rd, 2016 @ 8:50 am

    I’m in love with Sid. You are a hero too!

  7. Sheri Nugent
    May 3rd, 2016 @ 8:54 am

    I high fived you with every paragraph you wrote. I preach humanely raised animals to whomever is foolish enough to offer me a glass of wine and mention food sourcing. I love your mission and also see it spreading. Oh – and by the way, I need a kitchen calf. So cute.

  8. ClaireB
    May 3rd, 2016 @ 8:56 am

    Sid is adorable. Nature is beautiful. You & Mike are such good people. There’s a special place in the afterlife (& this life) for those that care so well for animals.

  9. Deborah
    May 3rd, 2016 @ 9:01 am

    Siiiiiiiiddd! So sweet! He makes a strong argument for a kitchen calf. I’m so glad you saved him and cannot wait to see what he does in the herd. Lucky you!

  10. Alyxx
    May 3rd, 2016 @ 9:05 am

    If I had one wish, it would be to find someone humanely raising pigs. Pigs are amazing animals (smart, trainable like dogs, great personalities) and the pork industry is, if anything, worse than the beef. I can’t eat beef (dietary issue, I can’t digest it, even beef gelatin in things)so Star Brand isn’t for me (though I’ve told all of my beef eating friends about it!!!)
    But I’d pay through the nose for pork raised with love…..

  11. Antler
    May 3rd, 2016 @ 9:09 am

    SID!!!!

    Pls check your email for a note from me about Sid!

  12. Sheri Nugent
    May 3rd, 2016 @ 9:10 am

    Response to Alyxx’s comment: Me too! I would pay dearly for humanely raised pork. Shreve – if you have the desire and get the opportunity to add pork to your Star Brand Beef offerings, I’m your first customer.

  13. JoDi
    May 3rd, 2016 @ 9:27 am

    He’s so precious! When you posted the photo of him and Chloe on Instagram, I had to show my husband. We have 2 Schipperkes, and Sid is so shiny and black he looks like one of ours when she’s lying down! She’s much smaller than Sid though! LOL

  14. JoDi
    May 3rd, 2016 @ 9:28 am

    Seriously, he’s so freakin’ adorable, I want to nibble his ears! Why can’t they stay small like that forever!!!??!!

  15. shreve
    May 3rd, 2016 @ 10:30 am

    Marg ~ Well, humanely raised meat and organic meat and grass-finished meat are three completely separate categories. You can have humanely raised meat that is not grass-finished or free of GMOs – it means the animals were treated with respect but were fed grain/pellets/corn/soy. The “label” in that case is focusing on the treatment of the animals. And this is VERY good!

    You can have organic meat that was not grass-finished (it means the grain/pellets were from organic corn/soy/etc). You can have organic and grass finished meat that was not humanely raised.

    Labels are important, but I feel it is FAR more important to establish relationships with the people who raise your food (plant and animal). Because labels never tell the whole story. Only people can do that.

  16. shreve
    May 3rd, 2016 @ 10:34 am

    Alyxx and Sheri ~ I am working on it! I have a couple of leads I’m exploring – working with people who raise pigs as I’ve done with lamb.

  17. shreve
    May 3rd, 2016 @ 10:47 am

    Carol K ~ It’s hard regardless of names. I’ve been doing this five years now and still cry when it’s time for my steers to transition into food. And I’m proud of the fact that it’s hard, and I’m glad that I still cry. And I also still eat meat (but only mine, or that which is raised like mine).

  18. Ericka
    May 3rd, 2016 @ 11:07 am

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… YOU ARE AWESOME!!!!!

  19. bonnie
    May 3rd, 2016 @ 11:36 am

    Chloe the babysitter — i love it! Sid is going to think he’s a dog :)

  20. Janet M
    May 3rd, 2016 @ 12:03 pm

    Love to Sid. Feedlots are concentration camps for cows, just say no to them.

  21. Candi Morgan McCorkle
    May 3rd, 2016 @ 12:08 pm

    I truly feel, with tears in my eyes, that what you are doing is a wonderful, a necessary, a vital thing to our world today. You are offering peace for your babies and peace-of-mind to your buyers. I love that you offer sanctuary and honesty and compassion. It humbles me to be able to read your blog and know that on the other side of the country, there is someone working to change the cattle industry in the same small way (albeit a larger small way) that I am working within the goat one. You can see that compassion and care in Sid’s grey eyes. Thank you.

  22. judy
    May 3rd, 2016 @ 12:26 pm

    It would be great if you could get an article about your business and how you humanely raise beef into national newspapers so more people can become aware of alternative ways to buy meat besides the junk in the usual grocery stores.
    Unfortunately, there are so many people who don’t care about how the animals are treated and who only want cheap meat but the more people who read about alternatives, it may cause additional support for humanely raised meat.

  23. Marg
    May 3rd, 2016 @ 2:47 pm

    Great idea judy. We pass the word along but the press is the best way to get it out there and get people informed and caring !! thanks shreve for the clarifications.

  24. Felyne
    May 3rd, 2016 @ 2:54 pm

    Be the change you wish to see in the world.

    As a consumer, the way the product is made/treated is entirely on us, no one else, because we are making the purchase of our own free will. The ‘didn’t know’ is just lazy ignorance – you are doing something that effects other living creatures, don’t be ignorant about it.

  25. - - -
    May 3rd, 2016 @ 5:18 pm

    EDITED/REDACTED BY SHREVE and I ask:
    a) did you even read the post?
    and
    b) can you explain your solution?
    Seriously. Give me a realistic solution instead of dramatics that solve nothing.

  26. Gabriela
    May 3rd, 2016 @ 8:30 pm

    Shreve, Sid is gorgeous! I do have one question and it’s one i guess i could research on my own since my husband and i lease our pasture to our neighbor for his two little brahma bulls and heifer. They are growing up happy and free and i accept the day will come when they will be gone. When Will that be? At what age are they considered old enough?

  27. shreve
    May 3rd, 2016 @ 8:41 pm

    G ~ In the US, it’s common at 2 years. I raise mine to 3, I feel that final year does wonders for the flavor. In France, beef is ineligible for the highest rating unless it is between 3 and 4 years!

  28. Laura
    May 3rd, 2016 @ 8:51 pm

    he is beautiful! As always, I wish I could give your babies a big kiss on the schnozz…..

  29. mlaiuppa
    May 3rd, 2016 @ 8:52 pm

    Do you think you might make Sid one of your “oxen” for plowing, like you had planned for Frisco?

    Or might he help Sir Baby with the stud duties?

    I think you run your business wonderfully. There is no reason we cannot be humane to everything that provides for our sustenance. Cows, chickens, pigs, fish. Plants too. That goes right down to organic fertilizer and no pesticides for our edible vegetation, thus being humane to the bees and other bugs. This country would be a lot healthier and kinder if we started making all of our food chain more humane. That would mean not only no more factory farming and feed lots, but also no monocrops or Glyphosate, and of course, no GMO. Yes, it would cost a little more and we’d have to modify our diets. Nothing wrong with eating seasonally. If you can learn to cook, you can also learn to preserve. And if you can’t make it in a kitchen (without a laboratory), it isn’t food. Lard = food. Crisco = not food.

  30. Torre
    May 3rd, 2016 @ 8:56 pm

    awww Sid – you are adorable! I’m glad you will have a good life on the farm there. Shreve – I would love an option in the shop similar to the Charlie pictures to help support the retired/special project cows. I support Rikki’s Refuge in VA because they take in older animals, ones owners can’t keep or care for because of medical needs, and such. I sure can’t keep all the animals since I am still looking for a place to settle down but I can donate.

    and when I am braver (not so late at night!), I need to read this post you linked – I suspect I will be disgusted on how the animal husbandry industry runs. I do have a couple of local sources I should check out re: humanely raised.

  31. wright1
    May 4th, 2016 @ 10:18 am

    Sid is adorable. And your points about humanely raised meat animals are well taken. That story about the feed lot operator is the kind of thing that gives me hope for the future.

  32. Rose
    May 4th, 2016 @ 12:05 pm

    I knew that once he had a name, he was a keeper!

    I still have some beef left from last year, and I’m mulling over buying another mini. It’s a lot of beef for one, but I have given some bigger roasts away. The recipients have been very pleased!

  33. shreve
    May 4th, 2016 @ 12:17 pm

    R ~ it really makes the best presents!

  34. bp
    May 4th, 2016 @ 4:27 pm

    Details: Wed 4 May 2016 @ 5:23 Central time.

    147 backers $20,005 pledged 50 hours to go

  35. Miranda
    May 5th, 2016 @ 12:34 am

    I’ve read your story about how you raise your meat stock and I have two responses and they don’t match and I don’t think I’ll be able to come to a full understanding.

    On one hand I am behind the humane treatment and totally appreciate the trucking to various pastures so the animals have no fear.

    On the other hand one day they will enter that truck trusting you and go to their death. And no matter how you try to justify it that is the ultimate betrayal of their trust. And that is awesomely horrific to me.

  36. Amy
    May 5th, 2016 @ 10:11 am

    @Miranda, while I don’t think I could adequately answer your second thought, to me, giving them a swift, clean death in this manner is an act of love. They’re going to die one way or another, and the natural world has very few merciful deaths to deal out. This way, we know how they died as we know how they lived, and we know that fear and pain have been minimized. That’s all we can ask for in any death, including our own.

  37. shreve
    May 5th, 2016 @ 10:37 am

    M ~ Here’s how I look at it. It would be SO much easier not to do this at all. To not run Star Brand Beef. I could make way more money and spend way less energy doing other things. But that does NOTHING to help the lives of the animals that are going to transition to food.

    It is a simple and undeniable fact that people eat meat. Requesting (or demanding) that everyone become vegan is not realistic. And therefore animals will transition into food. They can do that through the current system, in which their lives are MISERABLE and they are often subject to abuse, beyond being confined in disgusting quarters.

    OR, I can buy some of the calves that would otherwise be headed to a feedlot and keep them on pasture and make sure their lives are free of fear and abuse. And yes, at the end of three years, they are killed. And I cry. And yet I know that their death is inevitable, and this is key: the way things are right now (ie, not everyone is vegan), their death IS inevitable whether Star Brand Beef exists or not.

    Some people think I’m a slime bag for creating Star Brand Beef. I would feel like a slime bag if I just waved goodbye to calves as they headed off, crammed like sardines in a semi truck headed to a feedlot, when I could do something about it. When I could make a difference in the time that they ARE alive. Ending Star Brand Beef wouldn’t erase their death sentence. It would just erase any hopes of them having a decent quality of life.

  38. Nova
    May 5th, 2016 @ 12:34 pm

    I’m rather saddened that anyone would be joyful when another person’s livelihood is threatened, and particularly disappointed to see such a reaction from you.

    What could a feedlot transition to so that the people involved do not become unemployed? How could they rework their business so they can join the humanely-raised-animals movement?

  39. Shreve
    May 5th, 2016 @ 12:57 pm

    N – it gets really hard to write (and I suspect boring to read) posts which include every disclaimer. Obviously I would not be overjoyed about someone losing their job, but I see it as an opportunity for evolution. Huge debate taking place in Wyoming right now on that very topic, in regards to all the coal mine layoffs taking place: should we be outraged by the job loss or celebrate the steps toward saving the planet?

  40. mlaiuppa
    May 5th, 2016 @ 2:10 pm

    Yay, 29 hours to go and you’ve topped $20,000!

    What would happen to most cows, pigs, chickens etc. if the entire world went totally vegan? No meat, no dairy, no eggs.

    Well, these domesticated animals wouldn’t survive as feral animals to start.

    People would also cease to breed them. Possibly geld all males so that they could not breed.

    So we would eventually see the extinction of many breeds of cow, pig and chicken. Maybe goat too although they would probably survive as feral better than the others. Sheep would survive for wool harvesting. Eliminate that and add sheep to the extinction list.

    A feral life is not kind. Our domesticated animals for the most part would not survive long, their lives would be miserable and their deaths horrific. But I imagine they’d still be better than in factory farms, feedlots and inhumane slaughter.

    But in a century or so cows, pigs, chickens, goats and maybe even sheep would be like elephants, tigers, lions and rhinos; we’d only see photos in picture books and images on vintage video.

    But the world going Vegan is simply not reasonable. It’s not going to happen. That doesn’t mean we can’t respect our sustenance and ensure that not only are the animals that will become our food are treated humanely and respectfully, but that we can extend that to our other food sources. No GMO. And the production and harvest of our fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes aren’t damaging the environment with glyphosate, neonicotinoids and other chemical poisons.

    Wouldn’t hurt for humanity in general to show a little restraint regarding population control so that our humane and sustainable methods could actually sustain the planet.

  41. Lori
    May 5th, 2016 @ 3:28 pm

    Hi Shreve, will there be any time when you will be delivering to the East Coast?
    I would really love the opportunity to buy some of your beef.

  42. Julie
    May 5th, 2016 @ 5:19 pm

    Hey Shreve…you are a hero, a bonafide world changer….I love what you’re doing, I love this post explaining what you’re doing, and I just love you. Doing what you know in your heart is right and not letting peer pressure by other ranchers keep you from doing it. Obviously I am an animal woman myself, but you post the most amazingly simple blog posts telling the world what you’re doing, and you draw us in every time.

  43. bp
    May 5th, 2016 @ 10:49 pm

    I have a cardinal huddled in a corner of my room right now, a baby who tried to learn how to fly and landed in the middle of the road, almost smushed by a car. When he heals and can fly (hopefully), he’ll be out the window, no sweat.

    I eat meat. No where near Shreve, but the thought that her cows live glorious lives until they embrace their carefully planned destiny encourages me.

    Because destiny is not always so kind.

  44. shreve
    May 6th, 2016 @ 7:37 am

    L ~ I am not completely sure right now. I did deliver to the East Coast in 2014 and it was a learning experience. For one thing, the distance from WY to the east coast is twice the distance from WY to CA, so my delivery costs are much higher. And the layout of the eastern cities is so different than the west – I found people on the east coast were less inclined to drive very far to meet my delivery truck, and perhaps this is because traffic makes a 20 mile drive intolerable, or 20 miles takes you into another state, and mentally that seems really far to go? I don’t know the explanation, because I have no personal experience – I’ve never lived on the east coast with a car. So the delivery model that works really well with my west coast deliveries did not work well on the east coast. If you have suggestions, I am all ears!

  45. Dawn
    May 6th, 2016 @ 11:33 am

    I read the Animal Cruelty Is The Price We Pay For Cheap Meat article via your tweet last week and immediately resolved to never again buy meat I couldn’t trace back to how they spent their lives. This is going to be a big transition that I have failed at before but am hopeful I will succeed this time. I plan to visit farmers markets and try to find places I can buy meat without having to buy the large quantities and cuts I do not want (mainly because I am lazy about cooking).

    May I ask your opinion on fish? I feel like the cruelty may not be *as* extreme, but has its own Tale of Horrors with the overfishing, polluting, damming of all our bodies of water.

  46. mlaiuppa
    May 6th, 2016 @ 1:05 pm

    Dawn: Try to see if there is a local CSA that has no only fruits and vegetables but eggs, meat and even dairy. We have local ones where you can not only meet the farmers but also go out and visit to see the animals and fields.

    Fish for me is iffy. You don’t want any farmed fish or shellfish, especially from Asia. I don’t eat factory farmed (except if I could afford abalone) but with wild caught you have the issue of bycatch. It’s like factory farming the ocean. They’ll use these big nets for just pollock and then throw all of the dead salmon and other ocean creatures they caught by accident and died in their nets overboard. The best solution would be pole caught so they are wild and caught as humanely as you can catch a fish.

    I’m in a harbor town so I can actually go to the docks and talk to the fishermen who caught that fish and ask them about it. I could even go out on a boat and catch my own fish, but that’s expensive.

    The one thing I wouldn’t do is buy fish at my local big chain grocery store. My local one will tell you “Farmed in Indonesia” or “Wild Caught Alaska” for the fresh but you have no idea where the frozen stuff came from.

  47. shreve
    May 6th, 2016 @ 1:49 pm

    D ~ Bravo to you!!! I’m so impressed. I thank mlaiuppa for her fish advice (and for your other posts M, love you) because I don’t have much to offer – I pretty much stopped eating fish because there are so many concerns, and it’s not like one can find decent fish to purchase in Wyoming (and I don’t fish, with a pole, myself).

    My #1 advice is to try to establish relationships with your sources (be that fish, eggs, fruit, nuts, veggies, meat, etc). How easy this is to do depends on where you live. I will tell you – in case you (or anyone else reading this) have reservations about striking up conversations with strangers at the farmers market and elsewhere – food producers of all kinds *LOVE* to talk about what they do and how they do it. It’s their life and their soul and they will be happy for the opportunity to share it with you. So don’t be shy!

  48. Dawn
    May 6th, 2016 @ 3:57 pm

    Thank you mlaiuppa and Shreve! Farmers Markets, which thankfully are plenty here in San Jose, are where I will going to start. I hadn’t thought about trying to stake out harbors…. if that is possible in Santa Cruz/Monterey I may try that, thanks for the idea!

    I pretty much figured I can’t buy anything at the grocery store anymore, even Whole Foods.

  49. rose
    May 6th, 2016 @ 5:00 pm

    I have all the reasons to stay local, my brother ranches his thirty head here in rural eastern washington, and we have had our share of bottle calves, but it is people like you who motivate and initiate the change in the system, so thank you.

    His latest bottle calf, he lost the mom during birth, is one of the cutest bull calves I have ever seen. Would love to send a picture of him. He is black with white eyebrows. :)

  50. Karie
    May 6th, 2016 @ 7:06 pm

    Hi Shreve, so now I know this is what you were doing that weekend….I CAN”T WAIT to have a baby calf in my kitchen. It is amazing how good you are with the animals. We have a few cattle as well….came with the land and they are wild, never touched, never anything, just lawnmower the pasture…but they have calves. I am not back yet, but I heard there are two that were born last November, from a neighbor bull that hopped the fence to come over during mating season. Anyway, we will see them in a few days and look forward to having more calves to come!

  51. mlaiuppa
    May 6th, 2016 @ 11:32 pm

    $21,220!

    Congrats.

    You can get the Reefer of your dreams, plus pay down on the majority of a new truck when the old one is shot. Or bank it for emergency repairs.

    I’m sure there is some project in your dreams that is just waiting in the wings for funding. Looks like you might have it.

    Plus that will cover a lot of very special cows.

    Love that Sid. Beautiful eyelashes.

  52. Erynnn
    May 9th, 2016 @ 8:10 pm

    Picture of Chloe sleeping beside Sid?

  53. shreve
    May 10th, 2016 @ 6:40 am
  54. Raven
    May 10th, 2016 @ 8:46 am

    I am a vegetarian and I think the way you are doing things is great. I love that you have Special Project animals and that what you are doing is affecting the local feedlot. Keep going. Keep it up. This is awesome. :)

  55. Erynnn
    May 10th, 2016 @ 7:06 pm

    Thanks Shreve. Best.

  56. Karen
    May 16th, 2016 @ 3:53 pm

    Another Special Project Pet, ahem, steer. Sid, you’re a cutie!!

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