International Beef Market Japanese magazines to feature Wyoming beefWritten by Natasha Wheeler
Cheyenne – “Our guests had a list of things they wanted to see. They wanted to be here for a sunrise or a sunset. We chose the sunrise, so they arrived here at the ranch at 5 a.m.,” commented Carol Farthing of the Farthing Ranch, northwest of Cheyenne.
The Farthing’s guests were a group from Japan, including a photographer and his assistant, a translator and food editors representing five different Japanese publications.
“The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) is the organization that brought them here, and they made several stops,” Farthing explained.
Promoting American meat exports, Farthing Ranch was part of the “Gate to Plate” tour showcasing the positive aspects of American beef.
“We were the ‘gate,’ or the producers. From our place, they headed to New York to see some high-end steak houses at the ‘plate,’” she added.
The Japanese guests saw other aspects of American beef as well, including grocery stores and butcher shops.
“We were contacted by Ann Wittmann, the head of the Wyoming Beef Council, who asked if we would be amenable to hosting them,” Farthing noted. “We were really happy to do it. We believe we have a good, safe and healthy product.”
Up with the sun
When the group arrived, they were taken to the barn where they watched the horses getting saddled and ready for the day.
“We were moving a group of steers that day, so they followed along in their van, and the photographer took copious amounts of pictures,” she said.
Instructed by the photographer, the cowboys rode into the rising sun and away from it while he took his photos.
“Then we moved steers, and he took pictures of the cattle and the cowboys,” she added.
Next, the tour viewed the ranch’s cows and calves.
“I have to say, they were the most articulate, well-prepared and educated folks we’ve ever had,” Farthing remarked. “They did a great job in their research and asked pointed questions.”
Questions ranged from cattle age groups, such as cows and calves, to different breeds and favorite beef preparation techniques.
When she was asked about her favorite ways to prepare beef, Farthing explained, “Because I work outside and I am gone from the house a lot, I often use a crockpot. Two of them knew what a crockpot was, but none of them had ever seen one.”
She told them about how roasts and round steaks are ideal for using a crockpot, but the visitors were unfamiliar with those particular cuts of beef.
“When they talked about steak, it seemed to always be about T-bone steak, like there is no other kind. They eat a lot of organ meats, tongue and skirt steak,” commented Farthing.
She also noted that American cuts of beef are thicker, and thin cuts are much more common in Japan.
“They asked me if I prefer grass-fed or something from a feedlot. They knew the differences in marbling and so forth, and they have a preference for the end result of the feedlot,” she added.
The guests also explained to Farthing that a meal at a commercial steakhouse in Tokyo, Japan can cost $200 to $300 dollars, and reservations may have a two- to three-month waiting period.
“They like the end product. That is encouraging,” Farthing stated.
After moving steers and looking at the other groups of cattle on the ranch – the Farthings run a cow/calf yearling operation with Angus-Hereford cross cattle – the tour visited Farthing’s daughter-in-law’s house for a photo shoot with a meal prepared by the Wyoming Beef Council.
“They had a roast, kabobs and appetizers,” she commented.
For their noon meal, the group was taken several miles from the house to experience an authentic chuck wagon dinner, prepared by Guy and Kathy Landers with assistance from Tim George, who owns the chuckwagon, and his wife Georgia.
“They went up the day before, dug a pit and got everything set up for traditional Dutch oven cooking,” she explained.
Chicken-fried steak proved to be a humorous menu item, as the Farthings had to explain that no chicken meat is actually involved in the recipe.
“All done in the Dutch oven, the menu consisted of mashed potatoes, two kinds of dessert, cowboy beans and boiled coffee,” she noted, also explaining that the chicken-fried steak was cooked in a caldron of oil over a live fire.
Farthing added that it was a completely different experience for her guests.
“They thought the whole thing was terrific, and they ate every last bite,” she said.
The Farthing family also enjoyed hosting their guests, explaining aspects like their lifestyle such as how many hours they work, what a typical year looks and more.
“It involved our whole family. We have two sons here on the ranch, our daughters-in-law and our grandkids,” Farthing commented.
Farthing’s grandchildren Brinley and Carson are fifth-generation on the ranch, which has been in operation since 1903.
“We have our cattle and hay, and we raise our own horses,” Farthing explained.
The ranch also raises Shetland ponies, including the University of Wyoming Cowboy Joe mascot that attends events year-round.
As for the chance to share their operation with the Gate to Plate Tour, Farthing said, “Quite frankly, Ann Wittmann and Dianne Kirkbride should be the ones applauded for the whole thing. It went so smoothly.”
Kirkbride is the chairman of the Wyoming Beef Council and also Wyoming’s delegate to the National Federation of Beef Councils.