- Associated Press - Sunday, June 4, 2017

BEATRICE, Neb. (AP) - Sirloin the steer has a purpose, and his name offers a hint as to what that purpose is.

He is one of the more than 200 animals that reside at Turning Point Farm in Beatrice, owned by Terri Sue and Ron Mazza. They’re an organic farm, which means they grow animals without the use of antibiotics or hormones.

Once he is ready, Sirloin will be heading to what Ron calls “freezer camp.”

Naming livestock that you plan to eat may be seen as a bit unconventional, but unconventional is what Turning Point Farm is all about, Terri Sue told the Beatrice Daily Sun (https://bit.ly/2qLwoIh ).

She’s from Nebraska, but had never lived on a farm before. Ron was born in the Bronx and lived on Long Island. They met in Jerusalem a few years ago and decided to marry after dating for six months.

Four years ago, they decided to open an organic farm. They knew almost nothing about farming, outside of a small garden plot they had at their previous home in Omaha. After watching the documentary “Food, Inc.”- which takes a look into the corporate farming industry - the Mazzas decided they needed to do something.

The big-business way of growing fruits and vegetables and raising livestock shown in the movie inspired them to try it their own way. They had never done anything like it before.

They looked at hundreds of properties in Iowa, Colorado, Kansas, South Dakota and Nebraska. Eventually, they decided on their Beatrice location.

They refurbished the 100 year-old house and barn on the property, as well as the chicken coops.

They have 140 chickens and 38 pullets. There are seven ducks and nine ducklings waddling around the property, with a herd of sheep and three head of cattle living in the barn.

The sheep will be used for meat, not for shearing. Their coats feel more like dog fur than wool. Baby is the only ram. His name, like Sirloin’s, gives a clue to his purpose.

Two cows, Clementine and Clairessa, are sisters and Turning Point’s source of raw milk, which, according to Nebraska law, can only be sold at the farm. Terri Sue uses the milk to make cheeses and ice creams. Most milk, Ron said, gets stripped of its fat during the pasteurizing process. The skim, two-percent or whole milk will have fat added back in, but the raw milk comes out at a whopping 20 percent fat level.

The Mazzas aim to make their products personal. From the very start, when Terri Sue went to her first farmers market with maybe two dozen eggs, they sold out almost immediately. People liked what they did, she said, and she’s more than happy to show them what makes their farm a place that’s peaceful for both the animals and for them.

The Mazzas trade eggs and milk for items and services. In-kind trading can get you just about anything you might need, Terri Sue said, and it never hurts to ask.

Several dozen fresh eggs make their way every day to the Mazza’s loyal customer base. Unlike commercially farmed chickens, which can start laying in a matter of weeks, Terri Sue said, organic chickens take upward of six months to start laying eggs, which can be an expensive proposition.

“I remember when we got our first egg,” she said, laughing. “Ron told me, ‘That egg cost us $360.’ I said, ‘Yeah, but the next one’s only going to cost $180.’”

It’s a different life from the entrepreneurship and public speaking he used to do, Ron said, but that’s what the name of the farm is all about.

Turning Point, Terri Sue said, is the epitome of slow food. It takes time for everything to grow, from the asparagus and berries that can take years to yield crops to the meat and eggs that take months and years to mature.

It can be expensive to run a farm this way, but the Mazzas are grateful what they have.

“You appreciate it when you eat it,” Terri Sue said, “knowing it’s clean.”

___

Information from: Beatrice Sun, https://www.beatricedailysun.com

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