Guest Writer: Sally Zalac

Shimmering from the latest rain, the farm lane I descended off the main road took me past an orchard, three homes, and into the yard of Short’s Family Farm. Not your average gentleman’s ranch, the farm chores are happening, mud and all. Beyond the business yard are 150 acres of idyllic, lush green pasture dotted with 100% grass fed and finished Black Angus cattle – a scene that was soothing to my soul. 

Rancher Kevin Short, met me in the farm store with his beloved dog, Petey, a friendly cream and tan Pitbull who laid his head in my lap and asked to play ball.  Kevin was dressed in overalls and a worn ball cap, the ubiquitous mask across his face unable to mute Kevin’s good-natured laughter as he shared the history of his ranch. “I have to laugh or I’ll cry,” he chuckled, while describing the blessings and pitfalls of ranching. For example, current legal restrictions prevent cleaning the Valley’s salmon stream, causing floods in many of Short’s pastures. Beef cattle do not thrive in wetlands.

In 2001, Kevin’s step-father, Roger Short, was awakened to the importance of healthier ranching practices after seeing the film Food Inc. He set out to emulate some of the principles captured in the film. During that time, he kept his business afloat through the sale of Magical Soil, a mixture of “Semiahmo muck,” or peat from the Chimacum Valley, compost and sand. Roger eventually transformed his failing dairy farm into his current grass-fed beef ranch in 2002/03. Short’s also offers soil mixtures including BioChar, a carbon-rich product made from wood waste that helps create “living soil,” vital in sequestering carbon from the atmosphere. The farm’s product list includes various other soils, bark and sawdust, along with beef.

Short’s cattle are born and raised in a stress-free environment, have become comfortable with humans, and are frequently rotated into new pastures. Kevin chooses to process his cattle in Sandy, OR at a facility that allows animals a day of rest, in order to reduce stress prior to butchering. This results in healthier, tastier meat. Currently, COVID regulations require butchers to vacuum-pack all orders, but it takes nothing away from the quality you will find in Short’s Family Farm grass fed beef. Be sure to try some in your next order.

Sally Zalac is a valued customer and volunteer for Kitsap Fresh. She has a passion for local farms, organic food and regenerative farming.

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