Faidley Family Caters to Consumers with Beef Business
The characteristics that Daniel Faidley of Colfax, Iowa, looks for when he selects seedstock today is almost completely opposite of what he and his siblings selected when they were showing tall, large-framed Limousin cattle as 4-H and FFA members in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In fact, his herd is more reminiscent of the cattle his dad raised and showed in the 1950s and 60s.
“I go to a lot of business dinners and see a lot of steaks that don’t get finished because they’re just too big. That’s just wasteful, so I decided to raise smaller cattle that would produce beef that created an amazing eating experience for people,” explains Daniel, who works full-time as sales director for WinField United. “I researched several options and discussed them with my brother, Dwayne. His advice was, ‘If you want to look at your cows in the pasture and really like what you see, go with Mini Herefords. They’re quality cattle that produce incredible beef’.”
That decision started Bear Grove Beef and Bear Grove Family Farms, which were named after the one-room schoolhouse near the farm where Dwayne and Daniel grew up. These two core businesses complement one another: Bear Grove Beef focuses on producing better seedstock every year with the ultimate goal of raising cattle that can win in the show ring but also are productive in the pasture. Bear Grove Family Farms focuses on delighting consumers with extremely high quality beef for their dining pleasure.
“I wish more consumers understood just how safe and nutritious beef is in this country. I wish they didn’t get bombarded with misinformation that creates fear and doubt,” says Daniel. “Our approach to marketing Bear Grove Family Farms beef is to never say anything negative about other beef or the way it was produced, with the important exception of not condoning anything that’s egregious abuse of animals or the law. We’d rather tell our story and give people the choice of how they’re going to feed their families. We’ve had people call and ask for free range, grass fed, organic… whatever. We explain what we do and how we do it. Sometimes, they say, ‘Okay, that makes sense. I’d like to buy some.’ Sometimes, they say, ‘Sorry, but it has to meet XYZ criteria and your beef doesn’t do that.’ That’s fine with us. We are going to be 100 percent truthful about what we do.”
The Faidleys feel so strongly about honesty that it’s is a written policy. A pamphlet given to Bear Grove Family Farms’ customers states:
We will answer any question you have, honestly.
Less than 3% of the U.S. population has any direct connection to a farm. That leads to questions about what happens on the farm and creates confusion about what farming practices are good and what are bad. We have nothing to hide about where the food we produce comes from and how it was raised. You may have some strong preferences about food and need to know specifics about the food we produce to decide if you want to buy food from us. Just ask. If our answers mean you choose to go elsewhere for your food, we are ok with that. We hope knowing the facts about our food helps people make confident choices about the food they put on their own dinner tables.
When cows are grazing the lush pastures of a new spring, no one is more grateful for their health and gets more joy from watching them with their calves than the farmer. And, when that first-time mama cow needs help to have her first calf, it is the farmer who rushes to the scene to do everything possible to save mama and baby. Farming isn’t easy. But, farmers are people with hearts that love the farm, the livestock, the land. And, they are people with minds to make decisions that protect their hearts by doing what’s best for the livestock and the land.
Farms and farmers aren’t perfect. Like great parents with their kids, farmers must make decisions based on what they believe is best. Sometimes they learn they could have done it differently or better and work to apply those learnings in the future – just like parents. Farmers pursue better ways to care for the livestock and the land and produce food for people to enjoy.
Bear Grove Family Farms is truly a family operation. Daniel handles the logistics of scheduling beef to be ready for customers and shares marketing it with his wife, Robin. Their kids get involved, too. In fact, Mary, qualified for the regional technology fair by creating a website and YouTube videos focused on educating people about farms by debunking common misconceptions about farms and cattle.
For the Bear Grove Beef business, Dwayne manages the cattle production. Their father, Don, is involved with helping make good production decisions. The kids work with the cattle, too.
“The only surefire way to get all the Faidleys together is to meet at a cattle show,” says Daniel. “Getting together with family is one of the main reasons I choose to show cattle now. Our sister, Diana, and our mother, Dorothy, often help make sure Bear Grove Beef is represented professionally. I enjoy the competition, but I remind myself and our kids that it’s a very subjective situation. One person decides 100 percent of the outcome of the show. Getting too wound up about winning is a recipe for disappointment.”
Whether they’re prepping cattle to make a great impression in the show ring or preparing to deliver beef to customers, the Faidleys understand the importance of presentation.
“Robin is amazing at thinking about beef products from a mother’s perspective. She bridges the understanding of how the animals are raised for the typical consumer, who hears a lot of noise about food production but who doesn’t know what’s real and what’s rhetoric,” says Daniel. “Robin also makes things look pretty. When we sell beef, we like to present it in a way a consumer would find appealing. Robin has a green thumb, which allows us to deliver beef with some extras in the presentation like some flowers or herbs she grew. We’re a small farming operation and we put our hearts into every steak we sell. Robin’s touch really demonstrates that.”
To help promote the delicious beef they produce, today Daniel is sharing one of his family’s favorite recipes for marinated flank steak. Flank steak is a quick-cooking, flavorful cut of meat. When sliced correctly on the diagonal, the pieces of steak are tender and attractive.
COOK’S TIP: Like many great farm cooks, Daniel and Robin Faidley cook from scratch. Daniel’s philosophy on cooking beef is “don’t use a recipe and don’t overcook the meat.” He shared with me the steps he takes to prepare grilled steak. I find Daniel’s “honesty” refreshingly funny. I’ve been known to thaw meat in the microwave because I didn’t plan far enough ahead. I have no doubt that you could sit down at his table and be treated to the most delicious steak dinner, and I’m just as confident that I couldn’t pull it off without being given exact measurements. 🙂 I’m analytical enough that one of my favorite gifts is a set measuring spoons I received that are labeled “dash, smidgen and pinch.”
Click here for more tips on how to score and grill flank steak.
Also be sure to check out the many delicious recipes available online from the Iowa Beef Council, including:
Grilled Flank Steak
Flank steak (thawed if you remember to set it out of the freezer in time)
Some soy sauce
Some worcestershire sauce
Some salt and pepper
Some dry mustard (not yellow hot dog mustard!)
Mix everything except the flank steak.
Using a fork, poke holes into the flank steak. Let steak sit in the marinade mixture for 30 minutes to 24 hours. (Time is based on when you remember to start this little project.)
Preheat grill to as hot as you can get it.
Sear one side of flank steak on the hottest part of the grill.
Flip over flank steak and sear the other side of on the hottest part of the grill.
If you prefer your meat medium rare (like you should), remove flank steak from grill and allow it to "rest" for 10-15 minutes.
If you prefer your meat more done than medium rare, set flank steak on the grill rack or a cooler part of the grill until a sufficient amount of flavor is cooked out of it to your liking. Think about what you've done.
Slice flank steak diagonally across the grain.
Give your taste buds sensory overload!