We bought part of a cow

I love meat. I confessed it HERE a while ago. And I eat a lot of meat. And vegetables and fruit. But my thing is really meat. I am a fan. So when the Fish Whisperer asked T and I if we wanted to split half a cow with them, we paid attention. What exactly were they talking about?
It turns out the Fish Whisperer knew a rancher in the Eastern Sierra near Mammoth (where he lives) and that rancher had asked him if he was interested in purchasing half a cow (or the meat of a cow). He apparently had done it before and asked us if we wanted to split the half with him so we would end up with a fourth of a cow. Ummmm.... YES!

And so our cow adventure began.

Things like this always seem to come at busy times and T and the Fish Whisperer were working out most of the details. We knew we needed a deposit and then would need to pay the remaining money closer to "the time". Our deposit was $250. When T wrote the check he said he felt like he was signing the death warrant for the cow. It was a little sad, but also showed how disconnected to our food we sometimes become. We were excited to have an Eastern Sierra, organic, localy raised cow to eat, but also a little sad that we were the ones killing it. As we had already committed, and eat meat ALL THE TIME, we got over our little sadness and were excited to see what we would get.

Origianaly I wanted to find a place to tan the cowhide. I think I was inspired by the Native Americans in the area and wanted to use as much of the cow as we could. The Rancher had said I could have the cowhide and I was supposed to find someone to "tan" it. Tanning a cowhide was not in my DIY future it seemed. The Fish Whisperer said there were places that did it in Reno, Nevada and it was my intention to find a place but all of a sudden we got a call from him saying "it was happening" and what should he tell the Rancher about the cowhide? I had dropped the ball and didn't have my ducks in a row for that project so I missed out on the cowhide. I was a little bummed. The whole experience was new to us and we both thought we would have a little more warning but all of a sudden it was "time". Then we needed another check for the Rancher. This one was $400.

I remember at the time we were a little surprised about the cost. Somehow in our early conversations with the Fish Whisperer we had come to understand that in splitting the half of the cow, it was going to make it less expensive. For some reason I thought the whole thing was going to cost us about $400. So when all of a sudden we needed to pay this, we were surprised. And then we found out we needed to pay a fee for the butcher too.

Around this time we thought we were finally starting to get what was going on. The Rancher raised the cow and we bought it from him. Then the Butcher cut up the cow for us. T did a little research and found a "Cut Sheet" with examples of what you could get from half a cow.
You can see the whole example HERE. We talked about our options and ask the Fish Whisperer what he thought. The conversations never really led anywhere and when the time came, T told the Fish Whisperer that we would go with what he thought because he had done it before. A few days later T told me the news.

The Fish Whisperer had ground everything.

Half of a cow. All ground beef. I thought he was joking. He wasn't.


That news really hurt. But, by then it was too late. Lesson learned.

I forgot to metion that we had also purchsed a new freezer for our part of the cow. I remember finding it on sale after the New Year and think it was around $200. I will update this if I ever find the receipt.
So the weekend that I went to Pinnacles National Park, T drove up with the new freezer hooked up to a generator in the back of his truck and picked up our fourth of a cow. We both got home around the same time and he told me some good news. Not everything was ground up. We did have a few steaks, but no roasts or other items. I was happy to at least have a few steaks! The cost for the Butcher was $130. And gas for the trip was $180. We ended up with about 63 pounds of meet.

Total cost:
  • $250 Deposit for cow
  • $400 Final payment
  • $130 Butcher fee and tip
  • $180 Trip Gas
  • TOTAL = $960
  • TOTAL pounds of meat = 63
  • TOTAL cost of meat per pound = $15.24
OUCH. Again. That is one EXPENSIVE pound of meat. (We were kind of shocked at the price as we just figured it all out (not including the freezer) and didn't realize it was so much. T said he wished he didn't know.....)

So, was it worth it? Is the meat good?

Well the ground beef is fantastic. As it should be will almost everything ground up in there. We have been eating a lot of burgers and they are amazing. $15.24 a pound amazing? I am not sure yet, but it is nice to know that we are eating a cow that is as close to natural as one can find in today's world. And it is delicious!

Would we do it again? Yes. So I guess that means it was worth it. BUT, next time we will not grind everything! And we will be way more proactive with the whole process. There were all these things we learned this time around (soup bones are an option, and if we had a dog, there were amazing dog bones!) that will help us next time we decide to do this. I would like to have the cowhide still and plan on having next time we decide to purchase a portion of a cow!

All in all, it has been an interesting learning experience and is going to be a summer filled with hamburgers!


  1. Another option is to find your local butcher shops in your area (or close too) and see what their pricing is for a half cow. Our friends just did this and received 300 lbs got the meat for $1000. They often have packages and pricing for half cows, I think they paid $3.29/lb, granted you don't 'know' the cow, or keep the cowhide.

    1. Thanks Michelle! That is something to consider too. I never thought of that option.