On Monday 29 Oct our monthly meeting was hosted at the McElhaney Family Farm in Hookstown. Nichole Hockenberry, marketing director of The Pennsylvania Beef Council, sponsored the meeting. This is truly a family run farm. Everyone from grandparents, to grandchildren, aunts, and uncles work on the farm. The evening started with a short welcome from the McElhaney family, and we were then treated to a tractor ride and the workings of the farm were discussed. We learned how the herd is fed and watered and when they are moved to various areas of the farm to allow the grass to grow. The farm is very efficient and recycles everything possible. Rainwater is collected in the same area as where the herd is fed. The manure is collected so it doesn’t run into the ecosystem and it is used for fertilizer. The herd consists of 50 females & 50 calves as well as the bulls and cows for breeding. The total acreage of the farm is 100 acres, not big by western farm standards.
The family also raises hay on neighboring farms. The hay is bailed, wrapped, and stored for cold weather use. Another interesting note is cattle do not spend any time indoors. They prefer is spend their days outside in all types of weather. The layers of fur don’t allow water or cold to affect them.
Following our hayride, a very nice buffet dinner was served. It featured braised brisket and BBQ beef, along with vegetables, salad, and desserts.
Dr. Sara Place, Ph. D. of the National Cattleman’s Beef Association gave a presentation explaining how many farms, especially smaller ones, are raising their cattle in a more healthy environment, and as we know, this leads to a much better product for us.
The last surprise of the night was a gift of 2 leather knife rolls donated to the ACFPC for our annual auction. The knife rolls were made by a former student of mine, Ryan Moore. Ryan is the owner and craftsman of Ram Leatherworks. Ryan is a graduate of WCCC and worked for Parkhurst dining until starting this venture. He also works with his fiancé Christine in a chocolate business she is developing. We wish both of them much success.
4:00 pm — 4:30 pm Arrive at McElhaney Family Farm & Check-in and Registration
4:30 pm — 4:45 pm Welcome & Get Acquainted with the Beef Checkoff, Nichole Hockenberry, PA Beef Council
4:45 pm — 5:45 pm Farm Tour/Meet and Greet with McElhaney Family
5:45 pm — 6:30 pm Dinner and Dessert at the McElhaney Family Farm
6:30 pm — 7:15 pm Beef Industry Panel Discussion. Panel will include a Veterinarian, Producer, Beef Nutritionist.
7:15 pm— 7:45 pm Chef Sharing- Sharing their experience with the value add of buying direct from PA Beef Producers & sharing the Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) message, Martin Thomas CEC, Executive Chef, Sewickley Heights Golf Club
7:45pm—8:00pm Wrap-up Discussion & Depart from Farm