Five generations & farming
Leland Long operates Long Family Farm with his sons Robert and Loren, and Robert’s sons, Ryan and Reed, along with much help from the girls Berta, Ronni, Stephani and Megan. The 200-acre farm has been in the family for 5 generations with the intention to be in the family for another 100 years.
In 1912, Claus Brower came to Maxwelton Valley from Holland, and worked for Charles Feek on what was then a dairy farm. In 1913, Harry Pontius came from Kansas, to work for Claus. George Long and his wife Nancy homesteaded in Montana where George died in 1925. Nancy and their three little boys, Lloyd, Joe and Paul moved west, picking fruit in Yakima which many others from Whidbey Island were doing to supplement their farm income. There, Nancy met Harry and came to Whidbey Island to be a housekeeper for Claus. Claus and Nancy were married soon after.
Nancy and the boys bought 300 cull chicks from Percy Wilkenson’s hatchery in Clinton, and the boys started their own farm. Over the years, it grew to 5,000 laying chickens and some cattle. Claus continued to farm next door with Angus cattle until his death in 1958. In 1958, the Joe Long Farm began a growth that eventually led to 130,000 laying chickens and over 100 descendents of Claus’s Angus cows. The oldest boy, Lloyd, drowned in Deer Lake in 1938, and the youngest Paul moved to Minnesota in 1967. Joe Long continued to farm until his death in 2005.
Leland, Joe’s son, returned to the farm in 1971 after graduating from Washington State University. In 1988, the farm dropped the chickens and kept the cows. They sold 800-pound calves at the auction in Marysville. Robert and Loren Long joined the farm from their school years on, and Ryan and Reed are eager to lend a hand.
Operations & The Life of a Cow
The life of our beef cows begins with use of a bull for natural breeding. 9 months later, in late spring when the cows can be on pasture, the calves come. The males are steered with an elastrator band when they are a few days old, and both sexes are tagged so we can identify them. Their number consists of the year of their birth (“9” for 2009) and their mother’s number (example: the calf of mother 15 born in 2009 would be 915). This way, we can always put calves back with their moms if they get mixed up.
The cows provide plenty of milk to their calves through the summer. In the fall when the pasture is finished the calves are creep fed good quality forage. A creep is a device that allows the calf to enter a pen but prevents the cow from following. The calf is free to go in and out without its mother eating its feed. The calves have the best of both worlds, good forage along with access to the cow for milk.
Our winter forage is about one third corn silage and two-thirds grass silage. Silage is forage that is compressed to remove oxygen and then naturally ensiled, like our Sauerkraut. Grass/alfalfa silage has good protein but not enough energy for good growth. In this area corn grain is grown with corn seed having an 83 to 90 day maturity. By using 110 day maturing corn and then feeding cows the entire plant, not just the grain, we avoid the problem of unhealthy Omega 6 fatty acids in beef. The industry calls it “corn grass.” A corn plant is a grass that produces sugars through the summer, and only at the end of its life concentrates carbohydrates and oils in the grain. We harvest the corn while it is still too young for mature grain.
We wean the calf at about 7 months of age when it weighs about 600 pounds. Its second summer is spent on pasture, coming back to stored forage in the fall. The following spring the animal is two years old. The biggest calves can be nearly up to finish weight and are ready for slaughter at around 1200 pounds. We feed as much to the cattle as they want, which is a lot. Besides the silage, we provide a couple bales of hay for them to play with. They really seem to enjoy it.
Slaughter is the hardest part but we have found a respectable way that makes it acceptable with low stress to the animal. We run the herd through the corral with a truck parked at the loading chute. From the point of view of the herd, this is a normal process. During this time, two animals are shunted to the truck. The next morning the butcher comes with the animals in the truck parked by a high place with a clear shot. They usually pay little attention. One pop, the other looks up and within 10 seconds, the other pop, and it is over. Their adrenaline is not aroused, the ”lights” just go out. The butcher takes the halves for aging, cutting, wrapping and freezing.
We hope to create a video of our operation so all can see what we do. We continually make changes as we learn more.
2lbs Ground Beef
1 & ¼ onion
4-5 dashes of Worcestershire sauce (more to taste)
¼ tsp fresh cracked pepper
Process the ¼ onion in food processor until almost liquid. In large bowl add liquid onion, Worcestershire, pepper and stir to incorporate. Then add ground beef, mixing with hands to get it all mixed together. Then divide meat into 8 equal portions and form into patties. Cut whole onion into 8 slices. Place one slice on each patty and form the meat up over the sides of the onion.
Place on a heated grill meat side down. Leave until you see the meat changing color. The patty will cook mainly on the meat side. Then flip ONCE to add grill marks to the onion.
Serve with your favorite toppings and bun or lettuce.
Teriyaki Beef Strips
Boneless Roast (London broil or and round roast)
¾ cup soy sauce
¼ cup Worcestershire
2-4 cloves smashed garlic
¼ tsp pepper
(red pepper flakes if you like spicy – mmm)
Slice roast into THIN strips. The easiest way is to cut when the roast is still slightly frozen where the meat is not soft on the edge. In a large glass bowl, whisk the liquid ingredients, garlic and pepper. Then add the beef strips. Let marinade several hours at a minimum but even as much as 24 hours - it just takes on more flavor.
When you are ready to grill, preheat the grill. Add strips and cook approximately 3 minutes per side.
Serve with salad or roasted vegetables. Servings depend on size of roast.
Shredded BBQ Beef
3-4lb Boneless Beef Roast
2 bottles of your favorite BBQ sauce
½ onion, small dice
Salt & pepper
Cut the roast into 1 inch steak size pieces (across the grain to get nice shredding when cooking is complete) and salt & pepper each piece (you can just pepper if you are watching salt or something like Mrs. Dash).
Preheat grill or grill pan on HIGH. If using a grill pan, brush it with oil. Add meat to grill to sear approximately 2 min each side.
Remove to slow cooker (crock pot).
Sauté onion briefly in pan and add to crock-pot as well. Cover with BBQ sauce and set to 6-8 hour setting. Remove a piece at a time and shred with 2 forks.
The liquid in slow cooker sometimes is too thin, if this is the case then remove some liquid and put the shredded beef back in the slow cooker with fresh BBQ from the 2nd bottle.
Serve on your favorite bread. Serves 6-8
Loren’s Beer Beef Stew
2 lbs Stew Meat (or any cut other than ground beef)
3-4 large potatoes pealed and diced
2 celery ribs
14 oz can diced tomatoes undrained
1 can beer (Guinness taste great)
¼ cup flour
2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs olive oil for browning meat
Herb Sachet for Stew
1 Tbs rosemary
2 tsp thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
Put herbs in double layer cheesecloth and tie. Nestle in stew.
Melt butter with olive oil. Coat beef with flower salt and pepper. Brown in butter and oil.
Add the rest of the ingredients to slow cooker as well as the beef and herbs. Set for 6-8 hours.
Serve with more beer!