Our fireman friend John hauls our forty pounds of beef through the front door in a red beer cooler. We’d put down $375 a few months ago for this share of farmer Scott Meyer’s grass-fed Wagyu beef. The meat has travelled 108 food miles, from its Lopez Island origin to Bow, Washington, for butchering, and then on to our Seattle home.

John’s back from visiting his parents, who live just down the road from Scott’s two-hundred acres of grassy pasture, aka Sweet Grass Farm. John and his wife Alice visited Sweet Grass a few weeks earlier and helped Scott move the cows. “Scott’s a quiet guy, but friendly,” John says. He smiles and adds, “Sort of like me.” During their visit, the cows had rushed up to Scott and followed him right into their new pasture, where the grass was young and bright green. You don’t get the cows mad, because then it makes your life more difficult, Scott said. If they trust you, they go wherever you ask. Alice had told me that she was surprised to see the cows behaving like herd animals, following a distinct social order, with a mature cow named Chocolate acting as matriarch.The cows all know their names, Alice said. You wouldn’t think it.

Our forty pounds of meat is frozen and packed in sturdy vacuum-sealed packages, each segment a half-pound to four pounds. The meat is a beautiful rich brown color, with delicate marbling. John and Alice also have a forty-pound box, which he brings into the house and offers to trade for any of their cuts that we want. Here’s our take:

2 lbs New York strip
1 lb tenderloin
1 lb top sirloin
2 lbs prime rib steak
1/3 lb skirt steak
4 lbs sirloin tip roast
2 lbs oriental ribs
14 lbs ground beef
3 lbs arm roast
2 lbs mock tender roast
2.3 lbs bottom roast
1 lb top round
1.3 lbs crosscut shank
1.6 lbs marrow bones

I’ve heard of some of these cuts — ie, the steaks — but who knows what to do with the rest of them. John’s cooler has oxtails, short ribs, a different selection of steaks and other pieces. After a couple of minutes of sorting through the frosty packages we decide to call it even and so into our the basement chest freezer the meat goes, where it takes up about 20% of the space, less than expected. Still, it seems like there’s so much of it.

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