Red clover in our pastures is a natural alternative to antibiotics

The red clover in our pastures has been exploding the past couple of weeks. And that is a good thing for so many reasons.

beef red clover no antibiotics

Of course, there's the bees.

And red clover is sweet and tasty and the cows love it.

But there's another reason that we love our red clover: it's a great (proven) alternative to giving cattle antibiotics! The beef we market never gets antibiotics - but they do get red clover, which performs many of the same functions as antibiotics. 

At the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Forage-Animal Production Research Unit (FAPRU) in Lexington, Kentucky, scientists discovered a natural antimicrobial compound, biochanin A, in red clover. They found that biochanin A can inhibit and kill a group of “protein-wasting” bacteria typically treated with antibiotics. The benefit to consumers is that they are not exposed to antibiotic residue typically found in supermarket beef.  (There's more in this article at On Pasture.)

Our mission at Heartstone Farm is to deliver all natural, 100% grass fed beef that tastes amazing to our customers. And we firmly believe that using fewer chemicals is the best way to accomplish this - and do the bees a favor at the same time!


My new favorite way to cook steak (hint: don't thaw it)

 Start with a frozen steak - browning both sides on your stove top

Start with a frozen steak - browning both sides on your stove top

Here's my new favorite way to enjoy a Heartstone Farm grass fed steak - cook it frozen! Don't thaw it! And the best thing about this method is that it's not just convenient - but it results in a perfectly cooked, delicious steak! 

And it's easy! Just follow these steps:

1. Set your stove top to high and heat a cast iron pan. Turn your oven on and set the temp to 375. 

 A half hour later I was enjoying a very tasty ribeye

A half hour later I was enjoying a very tasty ribeye

2. When the pan is hot add butter. Add Kosher salt (and pepper if desired) to the steak. Add your frozen steak to the hot pan - cooking it till it's a lovely brown (about 2 minutes) and then turn it over until the other side is brown. 

3. When both sides are brown, remove from the stove and put the pan in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature and when it gets to 125 degrees (for medium rare) remove the pan from the oven and let site for 5 minutes. 

4. Enjoy a perfectly cooked, delicious steak - in less than 30 minutes from freezer to table!

How Much Freezer Space Do You Need? (And other freezer FAQs)

When you buy a Quarter Share or a Side (Half) of Heartstone Farm beef, it’s delivered (FREE) to your door - frozen. For lots of our customers, having a freezer full of beef is, well, something new. And, usually, people have questions…

How much freezer space will my beef take?

For a quarter share (85 pounds of meat), you’ll want to have 4 cubic feet. And for a Side (half), around 8 cubic feet. A whole cow will need 16 cubic feet. 

What if I don’t already have a freezer?

If you don’t have a freezer, you might be surprised to learn they’re surprisingly affordable.  I’ve bought Frigidaire upright 22 cubic foot freezers on sale at Lowe’s for under $600. And small freezers that will hold your Quarter Share are available at Lowe’s or Home Depot for under $200! On Amazon, we found this 5.1 Cubic Ft. Freezer for $135! Whether you get a chest freezer or an upright is a personal preference. 

How long will my beef be good in the freezer?

Assuming it goes right in the freezer and it’s kept ice cold, it will last at least 12 months.

How do I defrost my meat?

For ground beef, burger patties and steaks there are two ways. Either defrost in the refrigerator (24-48 hours), or place the meat in a bowl of cold water and let it defrost on your kitchen counter for 1-3 hours. For roasts, defrost in the refrigerator for 48-72 hours.

Can I cook my meat frozen?

Generally no, but recently we came across a method of cooking frozen steaks which we’ve tried out with excellent results! Here’s a 3 minute video from America’s Test Kitchen that shows how to do it:

Got other questions - feel free to email or call us


Here's Why Our Grass Fed Beef Tastes So Good

“I’m 67 years old and I’m being honest when l tell you l have always used ketchup on meatloaf But no more - the flavor is incredibly delicious.”

- Tom Cote, North Berwick, Maine

Who knew meatloaf... and roasts and steaks could taste so good? :)

  it takes more than just grass to create great tasting beef

it takes more than just grass to create great tasting beef

The one thing I’ve learned about the folks who buy our beef is this: they come for the “Grass Fed” and the “local”....but they stay for the taste!

And Tom’s not alone. You can go to our Customer Reviews page and read dozens of comments - just as enthusiastic as Tom’s - about the taste of our beef. Sure, it’s Grass Fed and all natural and local - but “best tasting beef I’ve ever had” is a line I hear over and over.

Sometimes I’ll be talking with someone who’s thinking about buying our beef and they’ll tell me they’ve had Grass Fed beef before but didn’t like it. I’ve even heard stories of people who bought a side from a friend, and didn’t eat it  because they didn’t like the taste.

They key in my opinion is that Grass Fed alone isn’t enough.

The taste our customers rave about is no accident. It’s the product of everything we do here at the Farm.  From the time a calf is born until the ride to the processor, we’re obsessive about things that will affect the taste of the meat.

This includes things like genetics, our pasture management and grazing protocols, weighing every single cow every 30 days...and that’s just to name a few things.

Take weighing the cows - we do that because the science behind producing great tasting beef is that in the 3-4 months before a beef cow is slaughtered, they need to be gaining at least 2 ½ pounds a day. And you don’t know if that’s happening unless you weigh them! An old business axiom that I learned was: you can't manage what you don't measure. And that sure applies to raising beef cattle!

Another example is that we believe strongly in our herd having no stress in their lives. We even prohibit the kids from yelling around the cows! Yes, it’s humane, but it’s also a proven scientific fact that stress impacts the quality and yes, the taste of the beef.

So, we do things differently here. Sometimes my farmer friends will give me a look that suggests I'm going a bit overboard. But, hey, I'll tell them, it's working. And then I'll grab a pound of hamburger and tell them to cook it up tonight and let me know if it's not the best tasting burger they've ever had. So far, I've gotten no complaints. 

- Farmer Dan

Valentine's Day 2017 Admission: I Love My Cows

I love our cows.

You know how parents always say they love all their kids the same amount. Well, that’s not true of my feelings about our herd. I love them all, but, well, some more than others.

  Who's photo bombing who? 

Who's photo bombing who? 

No matter what, I get attached to some in a different way. It’s hard not to. I especially get attached to the cows that we have for a longer period of time. We don’t name our herd; each of them has an ear tag with a number on it. But over time many of them get nicknames . “Momma” was a wonderful red Angus mix cow who had consistently had big healthy calves. She became lame and, despite many vet visits and extra care from us, her lameness got worse. And yet she soldiered on, never complaining. I admired her for being such a good trooper. To be honest, she inspired me with her ability to keep on going, even when it was hard.

And there was “Baby Bull” who was the first calf born here so I had a special affection for him, and still called him Baby Bull even after he was over 1,000 pounds and wasn’t technically a bull anymore.

Most of the herd never get nicknames, but we give them the same care. We believe in treating our herd with respect and care. I’m always talking about “no stress” for the cattle. When we head to the pasture, the kids are told “remember, no yelling.” We give them new pasture at least once a day, sometimes more and I can assure you they are never hungry. I’m like the Jewish (or Italian or any ethnic) momma making sure they are never without something good to eat.

I believe the care and the love we give our herd shows up in the quality of the beef we produce. There’s a fair amount of science about the impact that stress has on cattle, and on the meat. (Of course, we know stress contributes to illness in humans too.) We don’t use cattle prods or anything like that ever to move them From their first day to their last - we make sure every day is good.

When folks come out to visit our farm, they often mention how healthy and cared for our cattle are. To me, they’re seeing the love we feel for them every day.

 -Farmer Dan

Confused about food choices? Why not choose your farmer instead?

Why is choosing the “right” food so complicated?

We’ve all been there. You’re at the supermarket picking up what you need for dinner and as you head down the aisle you’re amazed at the choices and you’re paralyzed by not being able to decipher the barrage of claims on labels. Besides that, you can’t remember which scientific study is credible and which has been debunked!

  We've all been there - the labeling on food is - at best - confusing

We've all been there - the labeling on food is - at best - confusing

It’s a big problem these days: there’s just too much information out there. Too many catch phrases, too many detailed labels, too many conflicting points of view from too many experts - at some point it’s just information overload.

This is absolutely the case with beef!

OK - quick quiz  TRUE OR FALSE - Let's see how versed you are with stuff that's on beef labels in the supermarket.

1. Most beef in the United States is "grass fed" - TRUE OR FALSE? 

The answer is TRUE - and this is one of those confusing claims! Most beef cattle consume grass at some point in their lives, but over 95% end up in feed lots eating corn and other grains which are not natural for the cattle’s digestive system. Consumers should look for “grass fed and grass finished” - meaning the cattle were always on grass.

2. Most grass fed beef at the supermarket comes from small local farmers - TRUE OR FALSE?

This is FALSE - check the label and you’ll see “Product of Australia” most of the time - especially on the ground beef! There are local grass finished beef farmers right here in New England, but somehow it makes sense to import it all the way from Australia.

3. Grass fed and grass finished beef is significantly healthier for you - TRUE OR FALSE?

This one is TRUE!! When compared with other types of beef, grass-fed beef  have:

  • Less total fat

  • More heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids

  • More conjugated linoleic acid, a type of fat that's thought to reduce heart disease and cancer risks

  • More antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamin E

So what is a consumer to do - short of getting a PhD in nutrition?

Why not choose your farmer instead?

Research and choose "your" farmer. Take a look at their operation and how they raise their cattle. Then, instead of wasting hours in the grocery store guessing about what’s right for your family, you'll be able to trust what you're feeding your family.

That is, frankly, the relationship we want to have with our customers at Heartstone Farm. Last year at least ⅓ of our customers visited the farm at some point. They saw our healthy cattle out on the pasture and I told them about the things we do - how we raise them and how we treat them humanely. 

At the end of the day, instead of a confusing label, it was me they were trusting. And I take that responsibility seriously.

- Farmer Dan