Back in 1972, I was sitting at an open-air café and bar, El Nido, viewing the beautiful tropical sights in downtown San José, Costa Rica. My favorite waiter knew that I'd had a long and dusty two day journey (by horseback, boat, and train), so without asking he set a frosty mug of a local brew in front of me, and an appetizer of fresh tuna mixed with green salsa, onions, and cured with lemon juice.
Less than ten minutes later, the real reason I came to El Nido was placed on my table, "beef steak". Along with fried rice, black beans, and a simple lettuce salad, this is what I had been thinking about for over a month. The meat's taste was very flavorful (I use the terms "full bodied" or "beefy"), it had a great smell to it, and the texture was dense, but very juicy. Since I worked with cattlemen in the western coastal region, I knew these mostly Brahman cattle never received an ounce of grain, but after two seasons, some of the most promising critters were herded to the lusher grasses for domestic consumption.
By 1990, I was determined to find or raise beef in Wisconsin that tasted and smelled like my earlier cowboy eating experiences. My wife, Susan, and I were both office professionals living in the Fox River Valley. Fortunately, I happened upon Beefalo Bill's while I was driving to one of my work assignments east of Fond du Lac. After my work was done, I talked with Bill Thackray for over two hours, about how he raised and sold his pastured Beefalo. I left Bill's place with several pounds of meat. From that day until 1995, Sue and I drove 80 miles roundtrip to Bill's place to buy our meat. I had finally found beef in the USA that matched my Costa Rican eating experience, … and it also started Sue and me on a new adventure. In 1993, we established Cattleana Ranch. By 2001 the business was developed to allow both of us to work full-time on the land.
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