These Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs are the ultimate slow cooker comfort food for a chilly day!
A couple of weeks ago, I hopped in my car and drove 45 minutes south to Trowbridge Farms. It was a cold day. The kind that just made you want to roll over and go back to bed. And to top it off, a big snowstorm was coming in that night. But Phil Trowbridge was up and out of the door by 5am that day. Why? Because it’s calving season on his farm, and that means he’s up checking on his cows and heifers every few hours. (A heifer is a cow that hasn’t yet had a calf. Once she has a calf, she becomes a cow.)
Over the course of this year, I’m writing several posts about seasonal life on cattle farms and ranches across the country. Next up: calving season.
Farmers and ranchers time calving season to fall at different points during the year, but there’s a good chance that farms and ranches in your area are gearing up for calving season right about now. So what does that mean? It means paying even more attention to the cattle than normal. It means late night and early morning trips to the barn to make sure everyone is doing ok. It means vaccinations to make sure the little ones don’t get sick. It means very little sleep. (Actually, in many ways, calving season on a ranch reminds me of those first few weeks after we brought Robbie home. Seriously!)
Located on 1200 acres of rolling fields just 2 hours north of Manhattan, Phil Trowbridge’s farm is a family-run business. (In fact, according to the USDA, 97% of the 2.1 million farms and ranches in the U.S. are family owned.) As I observed firsthand, 2 of Phil’s hardest working coworkers are his dogs, who ride everywhere with him helping to herd the cows and make sure everything is in order.
One of the most unique things that I learned from my time with Phil is the level of technology in place on today’s farms and ranches. When I hear “farm,” I think of an outdoor rugged space. And while that might be true, technology has been working overtime to modernize American farms. You might be surprised to hear that Phil regularly works with an embryologist when it comes to making decisions about breeding cattle on his ranch. He showed me some of the frozen embryos that he keeps in his barn, and I immediately had a flashback to Jurassic Park. But unlike the movies, this is real life…and it’s really cool to see!
Another piece of technology that helps Phil immensely? His smart phone. He has wireless cameras set up in the calving barns across his property, so now he can easily check on his cows and heifers anytime he’d like. Prior to the cameras, he’d be out there in the barns every 2-3 hours (including the wee hours of the morning) checking to make sure the mommas are happy. But now he can just roll over in bed, take a peek at his phone and make sure everything is going well. Of course, if one of his cows needs help, Phil is up and out the door, but technology has made calving season much, much easier for ranchers. However, as Phil pointed out, “Science can only take us so far. I still need to go look at the [newborn] calves every day.”
Calving season is hard work, and Phil noted that “you have to love it to do it.” Fortunately, he loves the work he does. He provides daily care for each and every animal on his ranch, and he does this with the help of his sons (and 2 dogs). Phil’s grandkids are still about Robbie’s age, but if they follow their dad’s footsteps into farming, then they will be the 6th generation in Phil’s family to work in agriculture. Kinda cool, huh?
I recognize that this post is a 10,000-foot view of calving season, but hopefully you realize how much hard work goes into running a successful farm. It’s not easy, but like most farmers, Phil considers himself fortunate in that he works alongside his family each and every day. If you have more specific questions about calving season, just ask! If I don’t know the answer, then I’ll reach out to Phil and find out.
Let’s turn our attention over to the recipe part of this post now. Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs. Or in other words slow cooker heaven. Seriously. But speaking of slow cookers, I had a bit of a problem when I made this recipe. You see, we love a good slow cooker recipe around our house. During the colder months, that slow cooker barely goes back into it’s storage spot on the basement shelf before I’m pulling it back out again. I knew I would be using that slow cooker for these Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs. But I wanted to serve said short ribs over mashed potatoes. (Comfort food central, right there!) But the problem? My favorite mashed potatoes recipe is a slow cooker recipe, too.
I own a lot of cookware. Like a lot. I’ve got heart-shaped baking pans. I’ve got a giant lasagna pan (with a removeable bottom, mind you). I’ve got no less than 6 frying pans in different sizes. But I only have one slow cooker. I was tempted to just get another slow cooker as our current one is kinda basic, and I’ve had my eye on the nicer, programmable types. But Laura pointed out that 2 slow cookers was a bit much. Oh, fine. She was right, as usual. (But don’t tell her I said that!)
So I called up our wonderful neighbors and borrowed their slow cooker. I had 2 slow cookers simmering away making this meal! If you don’t happen to have 2 slow cookers, then you can totally make the mashed potatoes the traditional way…or you could make the mashed potatoes the day before. Mashed potatoes are one of those foods that reheat really well. Either way, these Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs turned out amazing! Laura loves beef short ribs, and I can remember her talking about short ribs way back when we first started dating. I turned to the Beef, It’s What’s for Dinner website to get this recipe, and it didn’t disappoint! If you’re in the mood for some really easy and really delicious comfort food, then put these Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs on the menu. Cheers, friends!
Oh, and a side note about the Beef, It’s What’s for Dinner website: It’s amazing! Not only if it full of facts about raising cattle, but it’s full of info about various cuts of beef, too. I actually discovered this Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs recipe while looking through some different cuts of beef on the website. Their recipe recommends using country-style beef ribs (also known as chuck ribs). Short ribs were on sale at my local market, so that’s why I went with short ribs. Our market often puts beef on amazing super sale. London Broil vs. Top Round. Chuck Eye Steak vs. Delmonico Steak. Tri-Tip vs. Triangle Roast. It can get confusing! (On a side note, each of those pairs is actually the same thing.) So now when I find beef on super sale, I often pull up the Beef, It’s What for Dinner website right there on my phone to learn more about the cut as well as find some recipes using that cut. Nice and easy!
Other “Life on a Cattle Ranch” posts
Winter: Cheesy Skillet Queso Dip
Calving: Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs