Janice Person [00:00:02]:
Food is more than just what’s on our plate. It’s the places where it’s grown. It’s the people who grow it and so much more. Join me, Janice Person, your host on Grounded by the Farm every other week as we talk about the foods we love. Hey, everybody, this is Janice, and I am in middle Tennessee, on the northern, northern side, almost to Kentucky, almost, but in Adams, Tennessee. And I’m at the home of the Swanson family. And everybody is here with us. I’m going to talk to Jeff Swanson, but later I’m going to take a family photo so you get to meet everybody, because these boys are something. She may give me a family photo she’s taken because it’s 100 something degrees today. We’re here talking about wagyu beef. Wagyu cattle. First off, I love beef. I love Kobe beef. I love wagyu beef. I have a ex brother in law who’s Japanese, so we still have family in Japan. I’ve gone there with my nephew, who we visited his grandparents while we were there and stuff. Wagyu, it’s a breed of cattle, sort.
Jeff Swanson [00:01:09]:
Of wagyu is more of a broad term. It refers to any of four breeds found in Japan.
Janice Person [00:01:17]:
Jeff Swanson [00:01:17]:
So you have the Japanese black, Japanese brown or red wagyu, japanese shorthorn, and Japanese pole. Okay, so all those because wagyu translates literally to Japanese cow or Japanese beef.
Janice Person [00:01:31]:
All right. That’s not the way we usually think of it, though. In the US. We usually think of something on my.
Jeff Swanson [00:01:36]:
Plate or on the menu, which is true. I mean, if it’s descended from the Japanese genetics that were brought in, either in they had an importation of four bulls in 1976, and those bulls came here to do a study for the Japanese on how they crossed on other breeds.
Janice Person [00:01:56]:
Jeff Swanson [00:01:56]:
Because at the time, japan was looking at increasing their beef production, but the only other prominent breed in Japan other than their native wagyu was Holsteins. So they sent two reds and two blacks, four bulls over in 76 to do a study with Washington State University on how they would cross breed. And then that kind of got out, and other people got semen off those bulls. And from there all the way up until 92, 93, they developed what were considered purebred wagyu in this country.
Janice Person [00:02:33]:
Jeff Swanson [00:02:34]:
Still very small, very localized. Didn’t get out a whole lot. And then a couple of investment groups found a loophole in the Japanese export system in the mid ninety s. Oh, nice. And they imported 100% wagu animals from 93 to 97, I believe. And then in 97, after the last shipment, the Japanese said, no more. We’re cutting it off.
Janice Person [00:02:56]:
Jeff Swanson [00:02:57]:
These are a national treasure. No more. We’ll leave Japan.
Janice Person [00:03:01]:
Wow. Okay. So that’s got so many questions to me in it. So wagyu I’ve been to Japan, they truly treasure what they treasure. Like rice is like an incredibly glorious plant, and it means life, all these kind of things. So wagyu is like a treasured part of their country’s history, and they don’t want it just necessarily taken everywhere and things. But we had a time period where we could pull it out.
Jeff Swanson [00:03:30]:
Janice Person [00:03:31]:
So help me understand how it’s gotten growth in the US. Because it’s still high end. So help me understand how it’s such a premium.
Jeff Swanson [00:03:43]:
And that’s the thing is, up until even now, there’s more and more people getting into this breed every day. But if you go all the way back to the late 80s, early ninety s and all that, there’s very few people raising these animals. Yeah, I personally didn’t know about wagyu until right before, about a year before we started raising them. I had heard of Kobe beef.
Janice Person [00:04:09]:
Are they hard to raise or something?
Jeff Swanson [00:04:11]:
They’re not hard to raise. I don’t think they’re just like anything else. An unknown, I think would be the best way to put it.
Janice Person [00:04:20]:
People are very familiar with Angus. Charley exactly.
Jeff Swanson [00:04:24]:
And then because of the rarity of them several years ago, I think the total numbers of wagyu in the United States was roughly 50,000. And that sounds like a big number, but it’s not.
Janice Person [00:04:37]:
Not when I think how many people like beef.
Jeff Swanson [00:04:40]:
Well, you look at the Ames report on how many are processed each week under USD inspection, and it’s up over 500,000 every week.
Janice Person [00:04:49]:
Jeff Swanson [00:04:50]:
So if everybody decided, hey, we only want wagyu beef, they’re all gone in a day.
Janice Person [00:04:57]:
So this is totally not what I wanted to talk about early, but I saw last night there’s like an Arby’s commercial where they’re selling wagyu beef, and then I saw in really small fine print, it’s like 51% wagyu and 49% other American beef.
Jeff Swanson [00:05:14]:
And I actually saw a little insight into that. And it’s a blended product. So they’re taking what I guess is an industry standard name of American wagyu, which is genetically the animal is half wagyu, half Angus.
Janice Person [00:05:30]:
Jeff Swanson [00:05:31]:
They were taking the ground beef off of those animals and blending it with regular commercial ground beef. So that 51% is really not accurate.
Janice Person [00:05:42]:
Jeff Swanson [00:05:42]:
You’re more about 25% or somewhere in that line. You’re still going to get some of the benefits from the wagyu, but not the benefits that you have with the floor.
Janice Person [00:05:52]:
So wagyu has such an amazing connotation. Your mouth starts watering when you think of it, but people who haven’t had it, how would you explain it as a beef product?
Jeff Swanson [00:06:07]:
You’re going to take the best steak you’ve ever eaten and just multiply it exponentially. Exactly. It has a rich, buttery taste to it because of the fat content, and it’s just literally melting your mouth.
Janice Person [00:06:21]:
It’s fork tender when you’re cutting it.
Jeff Swanson [00:06:23]:
Exactly. You can almost cut a steak with your fork. It’s just wonderful. And we had some steaks analyzed several years ago, and I think the melting point on the fat of the steaks was like 96 degrees.
Janice Person [00:06:37]:
Jeff Swanson [00:06:37]:
At that point. So it literally melts in your mouth. So you get that really soft, buttery texture to it. And then the tenders on the Warner Bratzler shear force test, which is how they test tenderness of meat, I think a four is considered extremely tender. And the ribeyes we sent, I think they tested like 2.9.
Janice Person [00:07:01]:
Oh, wow. Which is insanely.
Jeff Swanson [00:07:03]:
Insanely. More tender than the most tender steak. Yes.
Janice Person [00:07:07]:
Jeff Swanson [00:07:08]:
It’s just mind boggling. These animals are just that inherently different from our continental breeds.
Janice Person [00:07:16]:
Yeah. So that’s part of the premium, is that kind of level of tenderness. And then part of the premium is that there’s not so many of them.
Jeff Swanson [00:07:24]:
A lot of you know, and that’s you mentioned Kobe beef earlier. And Kobe is a name brand. They’re all specifically a tajima strain of black wagyu raised in Hayogo perfection of Japan. And then they have to grade above a certain level to be basically trademarked as Kobe.
Janice Person [00:07:42]:
Kind of like Vidalia onions, champagne versus sparkling wine.
Jeff Swanson [00:07:47]:
Janice Person [00:07:47]:
All those things. Okay.
Jeff Swanson [00:07:49]:
And that’s what makes Kobe beef Kobe. It has to be from a specific lineage of Japanese black wagyu, and it has to be raised in that area and has to grade above a certain level. And of course, they’re going to have animals that do not grade there, so they get sold under other names, a different name.
Janice Person [00:08:06]:
It’s a Japanese beef that’s just yeah.
Jeff Swanson [00:08:08]:
And that Kobe is not a breed of animals. It’s a trademark, basically.
Janice Person [00:08:12]:
Yeah, like certified Angus in the US. Okay. So wagyu, though, part of what at least I think I’ve seen so you’re going to correct me if I’m wrong, is that the marbling of the steak looks a little bit different. So a lot of people are used to what a ribeye looks like.
Jeff Swanson [00:08:29]:
Yeah. And with the wagyu influence, you can get a very well dispersed marbling. And depending on the genetics of the.
Janice Person [00:08:38]:
Animal, you he’s obviously going to find me photos or something.
Jeff Swanson [00:08:41]:
You can get very fine marbling to where it looks like somebody just took a pen and started oh, really? Punching holes and putting marbling in there. And we’ll find some really pretty steaks.
Janice Person [00:08:56]:
Well, I’ll make sure I put these on the website. I’m going to get him to text those. Oh, wow. That almost looks like a salami or some kind of thing that you’ve mechanically gone.
Jeff Swanson [00:09:09]:
That’s all natural. This is literally a picture of when they first split the carcass.
Janice Person [00:09:15]:
Jeff Swanson [00:09:16]:
So that’s the initial. Once they split it open right there, you can see the rib. So that would be a ribeye once it’s all cut up, that’s the first impression we got of that beef.
Janice Person [00:09:27]:
Wow. Okay, so now tell me why that marbling really matters.
Jeff Swanson [00:09:32]:
Helps with increased tenderness and that rich buttery flavor. And that’s one thing with wagyu is our particular program. You have people that try to push the envelope and compare to Kobe and Mitsiyaki or whatever. The extreme a five japanese. We’re a little bit more, I guess, modest. I mean, too much of a good thing. But wagyu is so rich in flavor. It can be so rich in flavor that you really don’t want to eat huge portions. And I’ve always been a steak guy. I love a big, juicy steak. If we went to the Extreme, and that is actually right on the border of that would be considered in that a five scale. But that’s one of those you don’t.
Janice Person [00:10:15]:
Always get them away.
Jeff Swanson [00:10:16]:
We’ll take it. But that’s the thing, is one of our ribeyes is going to weigh 24oz on an average. They’re thick cut, inch and a quarter.
Janice Person [00:10:29]:
I’m sitting here eyes wide open. A 24 ounce ribeye, it’s something you.
Jeff Swanson [00:10:35]:
Would not typically want to sit down and eat by yourself.
Janice Person [00:10:38]:
No, I would not split it with.
Jeff Swanson [00:10:39]:
Your spouse or a friend or somebody.
Janice Person [00:10:42]:
And it’s a better way to cook it because that fat melts at such a low temperature, you don’t have to cook it as hard as some people like to cook.
Jeff Swanson [00:10:53]:
No. And most of your wagyu beef is going to be best eaten medium to medium rare. Yeah, I’m a medium guy. Some people like medium rare. To me, when it gets on the rare side, you almost get a little chewiness to it. Where? Right there at that perfect pink medium.
Janice Person [00:11:09]:
I get the exact experience at 24oz. I’m thinking how much thicker that steak is than a typical grocery store cut, right?
Jeff Swanson [00:11:20]:
Yeah, your typical grocery store cut is going to be half inch to three quarters.
Janice Person [00:11:24]:
Exactly. So cooking it through at medium rare or something is very different than well, just me personally.
Jeff Swanson [00:11:33]:
Everybody has their own way of cooking things. I started when we first started processing four years ago, experimenting on how to cook. That way I could relate to my customers what works for me okay.
Janice Person [00:11:44]:
And give them you do the cooking around here instead, Chris.
Jeff Swanson [00:11:47]:
I cook some of the meats. She does a lot of the cooking, but I usually cook the meats. But for me, what works best for us is the reverse sear method. So it’s low and slow, and then hit it with the heat at the end.
Janice Person [00:11:59]:
Jeff Swanson [00:11:59]:
And our meat just works out really well that way because we can take just about anything. You can take a roast, reverse sear it, and it’s phenomenal. Just a simple thing like a sirloin.
Janice Person [00:12:13]:
Tip roast, because so often I hear about searing it first and then cooking it low. So the reverse sear is reverse of that.
Jeff Swanson [00:12:21]:
Exactly. And I’m going to show you. This is a picture from a customer.
Janice Person [00:12:25]:
He’s going to have to text me all of these so I can put them in.
Jeff Swanson [00:12:29]:
But you see how that is perfect throughout the whole steak with a thin crust around the outside.
Janice Person [00:12:35]:
Yeah. Gosh. I’m going to want steak now for lunch.
Jeff Swanson [00:12:39]:
And that’s what I love about the reverse sear versus hitting it with the heat first, because you hit it with, say, 400, 500 degrees first, you’re starting to overcook that outside layer.
Janice Person [00:12:51]:
Jeff Swanson [00:12:51]:
And then as you put it in, you lower the temperature down. It minimizes that, but at the same time, that first quarter inch or whatever is going to be overcooked.
Janice Person [00:13:01]:
So do you cook it on a grill or do you cook it in the stove?
Jeff Swanson [00:13:05]:
Most of the time I do it in the oven and then sear it on the skillet.
Janice Person [00:13:09]:
Okay, but I’ve done cast iron skillet? Yes. Okay. So do you use any butter or anything? Because a lot of steaks I know people talk about using butter with usually.
Jeff Swanson [00:13:18]:
What I’ll use when I sear it is I’ll put some of our beef tallow in it. So we take look at that, keep some of the excess fat off the animals, and we sell it to people that want to make their own tallow or maybe mix it with venison or something like that. We usually render it down, make our own tallow, keep a jar in the refrigerator, and I throw a little bit of that in my skillet. I love it, and I’ll sear it in that.
Janice Person [00:13:42]:
So one of my favorite places to eat in St. Louis that has it’s a butcher shop and lunch place, and they make tallow fries, and the fries are just going to be differently. Right. But it’s a butcher shop skillet.
Jeff Swanson [00:13:56]:
Potatoes with beef tallow is.
Janice Person [00:14:00]:
Okay. So, wow. I’m learning a lot. And we’ve gone out and we’ve seen your herd. We saw you have bulls here. You have different ages every six months, right?
Jeff Swanson [00:14:13]:
Pretty much, yeah. We have everything from three years old here at our place down to some yearlings.
Janice Person [00:14:20]:
Okay. And so we went to one of your places that you lease. That’s where we saw the mamas and the babies. And so those were your brand new ones?
Jeff Swanson [00:14:30]:
Yes. They’re all 30 to 60 days old.
Janice Person [00:14:33]:
Okay. And so they’re just playing in the pasture, playing in the woods, whatever they want to do with their days. We saw them playing around. They ran like crazy towards us as we were driving up. And then at what point do you bring them over here to your home place?
Jeff Swanson [00:14:50]:
Usually, hopefully by that time, I’ve got another lot cleared out to move a group in. But we try to bring them here about 14 months old.
Janice Person [00:14:59]:
Okay. So they’ll stay out there playing until they’re 14 months old, and then you bring them here. It’s more of like a feedlot kind of.
Jeff Swanson [00:15:06]:
Yeah, concentrated feed environment. So we give them free choice hay once they come here, and then we give them a grain ration twice a day.
Janice Person [00:15:13]:
And you kind of keep them together by age. So they’re the other cows that they know, the other steers that they know.
Jeff Swanson [00:15:20]:
They just more comfortable that way. And you wouldn’t want to put a year old calf in with the three year old steer just because of the size difference. The bigger one is going to be the bully and push them around and they won’t get the opportunity to eat. So this keeps everything a little bit more even.
Janice Person [00:15:35]:
Well, we even saw with some of your mama cows, one of them pushing the other one, they can get kind of bossy, wanting to get to that feed or keep the other ones away from it. It’s so intriguing. And here you’ll feed them hay or grass or whatever it is, and then you also give them a little bit of corn or something.
Jeff Swanson [00:15:56]:
Yeah, we give them a mixture of corn, barley, soy meal, protein, pellet, and then we also feed spent brewers grain.
Janice Person [00:16:04]:
Jeff Swanson [00:16:05]:
We pick up the spent grains from a brewery right down the road in Nashville.
Janice Person [00:16:10]:
My listeners are very familiar with Tennessee Brew Works. Christian’s been on the show a couple of times.
Jeff Swanson [00:16:14]:
Matt’s been our friends for several years. And so we take all their waste product and utilize it. So instead of it going to a landfill and them getting charged a disposal fee, we bring it here and feed it to the cows.
Janice Person [00:16:27]:
So what kind of grains?
Jeff Swanson [00:16:28]:
They’re wheat and barley mostly.
Janice Person [00:16:30]:
Okay. Yeah. I was just thinking you think about which beers people are drinking, right? So there’s always barley, and we did an interview with one of their barley farmers, but also, wheat beers are pretty darn popular. And so they just as they process that stuff off to get the alcohol and parts they need. Then there’s this additional part.
Jeff Swanson [00:16:49]:
Yes. The solids that are left over, and it’s a lot of it. Each bin that we get weighs about 1000 pounds.
Janice Person [00:16:56]:
Jeff Swanson [00:16:57]:
The bin itself doesn’t weigh 40 pounds, but then you’ve got roughly 1000 pounds of material inside it.
Janice Person [00:17:04]:
Oh, wow. And what do the cows get from that?
Jeff Swanson [00:17:08]:
They get a lot of nutrients. The biggest thing they do not get is calcium.
Janice Person [00:17:13]:
Jeff Swanson [00:17:13]:
Or the sugars and starches, they get a little bit because there’s still a little bit of residual sugar in there after the brewing process, but it’s depleted in calcium is the biggest thing, but it’s a high energy commodity, steel. I mean, we had some analyzed a few years ago. It was 79% total digestible nutrients.
Janice Person [00:17:37]:
Jeff Swanson [00:17:38]:
And that’s based on the dry matter, of course. It’s about 60% moisture.
Janice Person [00:17:44]:
Jeff Swanson [00:17:45]:
Even though their particular program, it’s not big solids. It’s more of a fine cornmeal type mix.
Janice Person [00:17:53]:
Jeff Swanson [00:17:53]:
They run it through a hammer mill before the brewing process. So it’s very fine particles, but there’s still a lot of great nutrients for the cows to absorb from it.
Janice Person [00:18:01]:
This is one of those upcycling things that I think happens so often in agriculture that people don’t hear about.
Jeff Swanson [00:18:07]:
Yeah. And I’ve heard of other producers, they get like unsellable candies bread, all kinds of different commodity things that would end up going in a dumpster somewhere.
Janice Person [00:18:19]:
Yeah. Going to a landfill and becoming a problem somewhere else.
Jeff Swanson [00:18:23]:
Exactly. So why not bring those what they would be waste products home to the farm and feed it to your cattle, feed it to your hogs, whatever you have, and make something else out of it. Yeah, that’s the saying. Cows are the best upcycle in the world. They turn the grass into beef.
Janice Person [00:18:40]:
Well, their stomachs can do things that you and I they can take things that you and I would never be able to take.
Jeff Swanson [00:18:47]:
And that’s the thing, is, we spoke a little bit about this in the truck. There are so much misinformation out there, people that think, oh, my gosh, don’t feed cows corn because it ruins their stomachs. And it doesn’t. You need a balance. I mean, obviously they need that hay or that grass to help solidify and balance things out in their rumen, but they can eat a lot of corn.
Janice Person [00:19:13]:
Well, and you think about it, a lot of grasses that they could be eating out in pastures and stuff. It has seeds and stuff like that on it, too. Right. And those seeds are, I mean, the wonder of breeding. But Tiacente was a grass that was like the head of it was as small as my pinky. And now we’ve got corn that came out from that from centuries or millennia, thanks to the native people of this world.
Jeff Swanson [00:19:40]:
Right, exactly. Yeah. They’ve cultivated. And the same thing has happened in the cattle. We started out with one specific thing, and then we’ve selectively bred and they’ve.
Janice Person [00:19:52]:
Done dairy and you have beef, and.
Jeff Swanson [00:19:54]:
It’S split off into all these different tangents. And there’s literally a breed for everybody.
Janice Person [00:19:59]:
Jeff Swanson [00:20:00]:
You’ve got the people that love the wally like we do. You have the people that, oh, nothing’s better than a Longhorn or Angus or Hereford or Scimitol or limousine. There’s just so many breeds out there for everybody to pick and choose from.
Janice Person [00:20:15]:
When we were out looking at your cattle, you kept saying, I just like the look of them.
Jeff Swanson [00:20:20]:
I do. Well, I mean, I’ve been a cowboy at heart for my whole life, pretty much from a little kid riding my pony around, that’s all I wanted to be was a cowboy.
Janice Person [00:20:30]:
Well, if you’ve had ponies since you were little, I can see why you have horses and stuff out here now and how easy it was for you to get into cattle. But you actually had a military career for a while.
Jeff Swanson [00:20:42]:
I’d spent six years in the army and got to see the world a little bit and enjoyed it, but decided that wasn’t what I want my future to be. And then you were a farrier for.
Janice Person [00:20:54]:
23 years, an important skill set to.
Jeff Swanson [00:20:57]:
Clean up those horses, trimming shoe horses every day for years on end.
Janice Person [00:21:06]:
And now you’re in this space where you’ve got your cattle. How many do you have? Is that okay to ask?
Jeff Swanson [00:21:13]:
Right now we have 40, mamas.
Janice Person [00:21:16]:
Jeff Swanson [00:21:17]:
So we calve about 20 in the spring, and then we’ll calve another 20 or so in the fall.
Janice Person [00:21:24]:
And you’re trying to run your so you’re occasionally processing cattle, instead doing them all in one fell swoop.
Jeff Swanson [00:21:32]:
Yeah. We cater to the individual consumer. We don’t have any big restaurant accounts. We don’t do wholesale or things like that. We basically are set up to take care of the individual person that wants to come directly to the farm and buy some really wonderful beef. Yeah, because we’re not super small scale where we only have five or six head of cows, and we’re not super huge where we have several hundred. So we’re kind of in a spot where we don’t have the volume for the big, huge Walmart whatever accounts, big grocery store accounts. And we don’t have a small volume where you can just sell it to your friends and family and be done. We’re kind of in that middle ground where we’ve got to be able to keep a consistent volume of people coming to pick it up.
Janice Person [00:22:26]:
So how do you do? Like, where do people find you?
Jeff Swanson [00:22:30]:
Facebook and Instagram is pretty much what we’ve done from the start.
Janice Person [00:22:34]:
Jeff Swanson [00:22:34]:
I’ve set down a starter.
Janice Person [00:22:36]:
Instead of going to farmers markets up.
Jeff Swanson [00:22:39]:
To this point, up till this last spring, I shot horses all the time. So I had a schedule of five days a week. First thing in the morning, I feed cows, get in the truck, and I go shoe horses most of the day and then try to catch up with the farm stuff at the end. And then, of course, we have two young boys. They’re active into baseball, football, and everything else. And my wife, fortunately, takes care of a lot of that stuff, and I help out where I can. So as far as the farmers markets, there’s just no time.
Janice Person [00:23:09]:
Jeff Swanson [00:23:12]:
And we’ve developed enough of a customer base because we started selling in April of 2019. What happened about ten months later?
Janice Person [00:23:21]:
Yeah. The world shut down.
Jeff Swanson [00:23:22]:
The world shut down. And for us, as basically a new business, just kind of getting out there. We had a big influx of people early on, like April of 2020. We had oh, my gosh, the grocery store.
Janice Person [00:23:35]:
Because suddenly the grocery stores were empty because so much food was going into cafeterias and restaurants and weren’t all going into the grocery stores, which is where everybody was buying all their food.
Jeff Swanson [00:23:46]:
Yeah. And people found out about us, and they came out and they bought a little bit, took it home and tried it, and some absolutely loved it, and others liked it, but the price was not cheap. Yeah. It just didn’t fit into their budget. And we still get a lot of those people. They come by every few months, but it’s not a regular thing every week deal. Most people, they’re going to run to Kroger Walmart or even Publix or whatever to pick up their groceries. That one day a week or every other week where a lot of our customers it’s that once a month, maybe every couple know they want something.
Janice Person [00:24:24]:
Jeff Swanson [00:24:25]:
So it’s kind of one of the nature of the beast we’ve got to consistently advertise just to keep people coming through.
Janice Person [00:24:32]:
Okay. So I’m guessing people really love the steaks they do from wagyu ground beef or what else do you do with it? Because you got the whole animal, I’m.
Jeff Swanson [00:24:44]:
Assuming everything you can imagine. We do all your normal steaks. You’ve got ribeyes, New York strips, fillets, sirloins, because the marbling these animals can produce. We get some really phenomenal steaks out of the chuck or the shoulder of the animal. Flat Irons Denver’s we do a ranch steak, which is a little bit leaner, but compared to commodity beef or what you buy in the grocery store, it’s way more well marbled. It’s going to be similar to a sirloin, but has a little bit beefier, richer flavor than sirloin does.
Janice Person [00:25:21]:
Jeff Swanson [00:25:22]:
It’s a really wonderful steak that most people don’t know about. We do the Culada pecania steaks and that are phenomenal also. They look like a miniature New York strip. Once we cut them, then we do very few roast. We do a mock tender roast out of the shoulder.
Janice Person [00:25:40]:
Jeff Swanson [00:25:40]:
We do a chuck eye roll roast out of the shoulder. And so we’ll take the chucky and we’ll cut about the first three pieces of that into a steak because that’s the same muscle as your ribeye is. So your chucky is a baby ribeye, essentially. We’ll take about the first three steaks off that. Then you start losing the eye muscle. So it’s not worth cutting into a steak anymore. Becomes a really wonderful roast. If you want to do a pot roast or something, we do sirloin tip roasts, which are from the knuckle on the back leg and or hip, I guess, area. And they’re a wonderful well marbled roast cook that a bunch of different ways you can do it as a pot roast. We reverse sear it and make sandwich meat out of it.
Janice Person [00:26:26]:
Jeff Swanson [00:26:27]:
Phenomenal. Done it on the grill that way. Slow roasted on the grill about 300 degrees until it got up to 150.
Janice Person [00:26:35]:
Jeff Swanson [00:26:35]:
And then had that smoky flavor with it too. It was amazing.
Janice Person [00:26:41]:
I could tell from your face it makes you hungry. Talking about it too.
Jeff Swanson [00:26:45]:
That’s been one of the most fun things with these animals, is just experimenting and seeing what’s possible.
Janice Person [00:26:50]:
Jeff Swanson [00:26:51]:
Korean short ribs. I think I just had a picture up here was going to show you those. Your chuck short ribs thin sliced across the bone. So you’ve got a little piece of bone in every single one there are.
Janice Person [00:27:05]:
So all of the favorites on his all the photo favorites are of meat.
Jeff Swanson [00:27:09]:
Meat pictures and few cow pictures.
Janice Person [00:27:12]:
I love it.
Jeff Swanson [00:27:13]:
We do so many things that you just can’t find anywhere. We keep all the off wall. We keep the tongue, the cheek meat, the oxtail, and sell that.
Janice Person [00:27:22]:
And then with all the little trimmings and stuff, you make sausages.
Jeff Swanson [00:27:28]:
We take a portion of what would become ground beef. We make bratwurst and Dewey sausage, sweet Italian sausage. We just came out with the tree Zoe a month or two ago. That is phenomenal.
Janice Person [00:27:40]:
That’s my love language.
Jeff Swanson [00:27:42]:
The easiest, wonderful tacos you’ll ever make.
Janice Person [00:27:45]:
Because once you cook the meat, you’re good.
Jeff Swanson [00:27:48]:
You’re done. Yeah.
Janice Person [00:27:49]:
You might want to put some lettuce or cilantro cheese on it and a.
Jeff Swanson [00:27:52]:
Little bit of sauce. We fed eight people one night with four pounds of trees and still had leftovers.
Janice Person [00:28:01]:
Everybody was happy, and it took five.
Jeff Swanson [00:28:03]:
Minutes or maybe ten at the most to fix it all.
Janice Person [00:28:06]:
It was just amazing. I love it. So most of your people, I assume, are from Clarksville.
Jeff Swanson [00:28:12]:
Very local. We’ve had a few people drive from a little farther out. We’ve had people come from 3 hours away just to try our beef. Everything’s locally raised, locally sold. We do not ship or anything like that because we live within an hour of about 3 million people.
Janice Person [00:28:32]:
Yeah. There’s a lot of folks around here.
Jeff Swanson [00:28:35]:
Not that that’s a good, bad, or indifferent, but to me, it just doesn’t make sense to ship.
Janice Person [00:28:42]:
Jeff Swanson [00:28:42]:
Why would I box it up and charge you $50 to get there overnight when you only live an hour away?
Janice Person [00:28:48]:
Jeff Swanson [00:28:50]:
And that’s, I guess, the puzzle with this whole deal, is figuring out how to get the customers to us, and you’re going to have a lot that think it’s too far. For whatever reason. I’m used to driving all over the place, so it’s nothing to drive an hour down the road. But a lot of people aren’t used to that.
Janice Person [00:29:07]:
Jeff Swanson [00:29:08]:
So that’s kind of been the one struggle for us, is convincing the people to come here.
Janice Person [00:29:14]:
Yeah. In today’s world, I guess during COVID people were really excited to drive out into the country. I noticed that from friends that were in the city that never used to go to the country to get away from. People suddenly were excited to go for nice long drives. Right. They kind of get out of the house because they were so tired of their house. But this part of the country is gorgeous for a drive.
Jeff Swanson [00:29:38]:
Janice Person [00:29:39]:
I mean, when we were coming through, there would be like these really wooded hollers, and you could see, like, there’s got to be a creek down in there somewhere. I’m not sure where it is. So many trees, you can’t see it, but then it just opens up into some beautiful pasture land, and then it’ll close back in with lots of trees and. Stuff. It truly is beautiful.
Jeff Swanson [00:29:58]:
A few cornfields and bean fields. Tobacco is a big crop around here, too. And yeah, it’s a very diverse area.
Janice Person [00:30:06]:
Yeah. So if people aren’t in an hour or two, strive and stuff, is there like a wagyu network?
Jeff Swanson [00:30:15]:
That’s the one thing that’s, I guess, amazing. And we’ve had people contact us from all over. It’s like, well, do you ship? I’m like, sorry, we don’t. But the biggest thing is the Internet’s amazing. If you type in wagyu and search enough, you’re going to find somebody within a reasonable distance that raises these animals to some extent. You’re going to have a lot of the crossbred. So the Wagyu and Angus cross, there’s more people out there raising those than there are the full bloods. They’re a little bit faster maturing, faster to process because of that crossbred genetics and the benefits from the Angus meat quality is going to be good, but it’s not going to be the same as 100% animals. It’s just the nature of the beast. We decided to stick with the 100% wagyu from the start just because of the consistency of the meat.
Janice Person [00:31:07]:
Jeff Swanson [00:31:08]:
So you’re going to get 50% genetics from the sire, 50% genetics from the dam. So if they’re both wagyu and they both have phenomenal bloodlines, it’s going to increase your chances of producing really awesome beef with the crossbred. And we produced a few early on and we had some really great results, I mean, comparable to what our full blood do. But the biggest thing is you’ve got that possibility they get the marbling at some point.
Janice Person [00:31:38]:
You don’t know whether it’s going to shift.
Jeff Swanson [00:31:40]:
And if the marbling genetics from the mom and not the sire, and you get an animal that doesn’t perform as well as it could.
Janice Person [00:31:47]:
Yeah. And you don’t know that until you’ve taken it to be processed and stuff.
Jeff Swanson [00:31:51]:
And you can have one turn out great this time, the next time. And that’s the thing is, in the cattle industry, everything revolves in three year cycles. So almost three and a half, almost four, actually, because by the time you breed a cow gestation is nine months, and then you’re going to raise that calf for a certain amount of time before you process it. So it’s a very long drawn out process.
Janice Person [00:32:18]:
Well, when we were talking, you started this with a partner and it’s been forever and you feel like you’re going to make a profit one of these days. Yes, but that’s also why you were still shoeing horses off, right?
Jeff Swanson [00:32:37]:
You got to be able to keep the bills paid and keep the cows fed. When we had shortcomings, like if we had a slow month on meat sales and we had to kick in a little bit to help cover feed costs or whatever, that’s what we did.
Janice Person [00:32:49]:
Yeah. So eight years.
Jeff Swanson [00:32:52]:
Well, there’s seven now.
Janice Person [00:32:54]:
Jeff Swanson [00:32:56]:
Next spring will be eight years.
Janice Person [00:32:57]:
Seven years before you quit the job of shoeing horses. It’s a long term deal.
Jeff Swanson [00:33:08]:
And I knew full aware that the thoughts that we had producing the beef and there are things to do. We’ve sold a few bulls. We haven’t sold really any females, but we’re kind of getting to that point where we will we’ll start selling a few heifers probably coming this fall.
Janice Person [00:33:26]:
Jeff Swanson [00:33:27]:
But everything’s been worth it to us to maintain and grow the herd. And we do process we process females, too, because that helps prove what your genetics do.
Janice Person [00:33:38]:
I love it.
Jeff Swanson [00:33:38]:
Yeah. It’s a labor of love, and one of these days, I hope it pays off.
Janice Person [00:33:44]:
So is there anything I really forgot to ask you? I was going to let the boys tell me, but I knew they would get tired of listening. And they have been making faces at me for like, the last 20 minutes at that door. They do that. So is there anything I missed asking you? Like, when your customers come out, is there something that they’re always blown away by?
Jeff Swanson [00:34:07]:
Usually they’ll look at the steaks, especially if we’ve got ribeyes and New York strips in stock. The marbling on them is beautiful. And they’ll pick it up and they’re like, oh, my gosh, look at that marbling. And then they’ll realize how big that steak is because it’s assurable. They’re used to going to the grocery store and buying personal package of ten ounce ribeyes, and all of a sudden they pick up one ribeye that weighs a bunch. And that’s the thing, is we try to keep our prices as reasonable as.
Janice Person [00:34:40]:
Possible because the price per pound is one thing versus the price per steak.
Jeff Swanson [00:34:44]:
Janice Person [00:34:45]:
Jeff Swanson [00:34:46]:
And we figured that out years ago when we first started selling meat, because we started out at price per pound, and all it did was confuse people because they would pick up a ribeye that was 24oz or 22oz or whatever, and like, well, how much is that going to be? Well, it says 1.25 pounds. Yeah, but how much is that? They didn’t want to sit there and do the math in their head, so we broke it down and basically based our steak prices on an average, a minimum average. So our ribeyes are based on an 18 ounce steak.
Janice Person [00:35:22]:
Jeff Swanson [00:35:22]:
And they’re never 18oz. So the customer is getting they get the nice little bonus.
Janice Person [00:35:27]:
Jeff Swanson [00:35:27]:
And the processor asked me that we were at a couple of years ago. He’s like, well, we can get them down to that. 18oz at what cost?
Janice Person [00:35:35]:
Jeff Swanson [00:35:36]:
I said, okay, you’re going to trim a little bit off here and a little bit off there, and then what are you going to oh, we’ll just throw it in with the grind. I said, that doesn’t do any good. Yeah, I’d rather give it to the customer than throw it in the grind.
Janice Person [00:35:47]:
Yeah, I love it.
Jeff Swanson [00:35:49]:
Yeah. And the ribeye strips, we keep whatever they are. We cut them inch and an 8th inch and a quarter thick. And whatever they are, they are our other steaks filets. We cut them down to 8oz and sirloins, we cut a center cut sirloin down to eight or 9oz. And we do the same thing with flat irons and Denver’s and ranches. And most people love the smaller size because it’s a perfect meal, especially when you have that richer flavor. You realize you take an eight ounce Denver steak, which is phenomenally marbled, and it’s just beautiful. And by the time you eat that eight or nine ounce steak, you’re like that’s plenty.
Janice Person [00:36:33]:
Yeah, I love it. All right, Chris, now ask you, did I forget to ask him anything important? So people do buy their ground beef.
Jeff Swanson [00:36:41]:
They do? Oh, yeah, absolutely. It makes the most amazing hamburger you’ll ever eat.
Janice Person [00:36:48]:
Jeff Swanson [00:36:49]:
That same rich, buttery, tender flavor.
Janice Person [00:36:53]:
I do love really good burgers.
Jeff Swanson [00:36:55]:
When we first started processing it and made our own burgers here at home, the best way I could describe it, it was like biting into air that had a beef flavor to it. It’s that tender.
Janice Person [00:37:08]:
Jeff Swanson [00:37:08]:
I mean, you had no resistance. Not much chewing. It’s just bite into your burger and you’re like, oh, my gosh, it’s fantastic. It’s just amazing. And then you get the rich, buttery flavor with it. Everything we do, minimal seasoning, salt and pepper, that’s about it. Because there’s so much natural flavor to the meat, it does not need much else.
Janice Person [00:37:33]:
I love it. Well, I can’t wait to get this episode out to people. As I do this. I’m going to tell you which all photos I need you to send, if you don’t already send them to me. I really appreciate your time.
Jeff Swanson [00:37:45]:
And I tell people, I said our goal for the future is one day we’d like to buy our own. Right now we lease, so we’d like to buy our own big farm. But it’s going to be more not just producing phenomenal beef, but the whole agritourism. We want people to come see how the cattle are raised, be able to walk around, enjoy nature. And like you and I going out and checking on the mamas. Just have a path where they can go by and see them, not get out in them. Because mamas can get territorial.
Janice Person [00:38:17]:
You saw. I know how to stay on the other side of the farmer.
Jeff Swanson [00:38:22]:
People are so disconnected from to where their food comes from that we’d like to get it back to it. They want to know where their food comes from.
Janice Person [00:38:34]:
That’s all. What I’m trying to do with this podcast is help people better understand because not everybody has phone book in their phone where they can just call up people and say, who else should I talk to?
Jeff Swanson [00:38:44]:
And there’s so much misinformation out there that if people really want to know the truth, all they have to do is come ask the people that are doing it.
Janice Person [00:38:54]:
Yeah, well, I’ll make sure they can find you on Instagram and Facebook, and they can ask you all those questions, too. But knowing that they could just find some farmers in their area by looking is also a great thing. Thanks so much. Your boys are dying to get back in this house, and I can’t make them stay out there any longer. Jeff, thank you so much for being here.
Jeff Swanson [00:39:14]:
Thank you for having me.
Janice Person [00:39:17]:
I have to tell you how fun it was when Braxton and Gunner came back in and were checking to see how the interview went and what was going to happen next about the sweetest kids ever. Braxton convinced his mom to make shepherd’s pie, which is one of his favorite meals, and was trying hard to get me to stay for the evening. It’s so sweet. But now I really want to try shepherd’s pie with wagyu beef because it seems like there may be a little bit of a different butteriness to it, and that does sound really good with shepherd’s pie. So I hope you guys found this of interest. We’re going to go ahead and share it on our social channels. If you could share it with people in the way you think, they’d find it most fitting. Those who might enjoy hearing about the foods they enjoy, but a little bit different perspective than they may normally hear. Thanks so much. We’ll talk to you again in two weeks. Bye.