I’ve been getting grass fed-beef now for about 3 years. When I started looking into ordering beef for myself, I did some research on local ranchers. One of the names that came up was Frank Fitzpatrick, owner of 5 Bar Beef. His ranch is located on the hills of Silverado Canyon right next to Cook’s Corner. I really liked his philosophy of the proper way to raise cattle. Before any of this grass-fed beef craze started, he was doing things his way, the right way.
His ranch rests on 800 acres. It is beautiful. The day I picked to meet him was the morning after in rained the night before. There could not have been a more beautiful day to check out where our beef come from.
As soon as Frank let us through the gate, we saw a few steers from his herd. He has 40 steers on the property at the moment but can have as much as 100. The first thing I noticed was how strong and healthy the steers appeared. Their coats were shiny and clean. These did not look anything like what I envisioned free roaming steers to look like.
The ride through the ranch had terrain that resembled a roller coaster. I had to stick my hand out of the truck to get this pic because the as we sat on the top of the hill, we couldn’t see the trail below us due to the incline. It was a fun, yet slightly nerve-racking, ride.
As we slowly drove, I got to ask Frank a lot of questions.
Phil: How can you tell the steers apart?
Frank: How to parents tell their kids apart?
Phil: Do you have any employees?
Frank: Nope. I do it myself.
Phil: Do you have to do any thing to the land in terms of maintenance and upkeep?
Frank: Not really. I’ll come through and clean up the trails, but other than that, not really.
Phil: What happens when there is no rain and the grass isn’t growing?
Frank: I get grass from local parks and recreation clean up crews. I make sure that the grass I get has not been sprayed or treated with anything. Want to go for a little hike?
After driving up to the ridge, over it, and down the other side of the property, we got out to track down one of the steers he was ready to butcher.
Frank: You know how to drive a truck with a clutch?
Phil: Uhhh…I can drive stick if that’s what you mean.
Frank: Want to take the truck back over to the other side and meet me? I want to move these guys over to where the other steers were. Or you can take a little hike and I’ll meet you over there.
Phil: I’ll hike.
Frank: Just start walking and the steers will move. They’ll go down this hill and through those trees. Follow them, but don’t get too close.
And so my career as a cattle herder started and ended. In my brief stint, it was a memorable experience walking in the hoof steps of these beautiful animals.
Frank: I wanted to bring you back here because I wanted to show you one of the steers that’s just about ready. You want him?
Phil: Yeah, I’ll take him
I went out to visit Frank because I wanted to know exactly where and how these steers were raised. With information readily available at your fingertips on a computer, it’s easy to become disconnected. However, as a consumer, I believe it’s important and my responsibility to go out and actually see for myself what grass-fed beef looks like with my own eyes. There aren’t very many people like Frank Fitzpatrick. He does what he believes is the right and is not afraid to share it. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to visit his ranch.
As we drove back, we had one more conversation.
Frank: You ever try Bikram yoga?
Phil: You practice yoga?
How many cowboys you know practice yoga?