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Barry Turpin teaches U. S. history at E. C. Glass High School, in Lynchburg, but he also spends time with big black cows. In fact Turpin & Arthur Angus Farms, a beef cattle partnership, is his retirement business.
He grew up on a farm and his family has been farming in Bedford County for a quarter of a millennium. His earliest ancestor to arrive in this area, Colonel Richard Calloway, was the first European farmer in Bedford County in the 1740s.
“The Turpins settled here right after the Revolution,” he said.
“I grew up in the dairy business,” he said. This meant getting up to milk cows at 3:30 a.m.
Farming will actually be a third career after he retires from teaching. He went to Marine Corps Officer Candidate School after graduating from college and spent 25 years, combined active duty and reserve time, as a Marine officer.
He started building his current herd in the late 1990s. He soon began looking for a niche market and began selling direct to the public.
Turpin likes Angus cattle.
“They are docile, they are a pleasure to work with,” he said.
Docility is important. Docility means less stress on the animal and less stress means better quality meat. Furthermore, he has residential neighbors and he wants his cows to be docile should there be an accidental encounter between a neighbor and one of his cows.
“We do a combination of grass and grain,” he said. A person purchasing an entire cow has the option of ordering an entirely grass-fed animal
All the cattle, however, are always in a pasture during the day. They are never in a feed lot and never get antibiotics or growth hormones.
Turpin said he learned, from experience years back, a farmer can give cattle growth hormones and watch them grow fast.
“I can’t bring myself to do that, even though it would be economic to do so,” he said.
Turpin does not want these hormones getting into beef that his customers eat. He said that, according to the USDA, there is no conclusive proof that injecting cattle with growth hormones has any lasting impacts. On the other hand, Turpin notes, there is no proof that it doesn’t.
Turpin and his partner, Joel Arthur, would rather do business the old fashioned way.
“It’s just not the way God intended,” he said, speaking of injecting cattle with growth hormones.
Turpin said their goal is to produce a healthy, full flavor product.
Along with direct marketing to the public, Turpin has a contract to supply ground beef to Lynchburg City Schools. He provides a low-fat hamburger patty with very little shrinkage.
Turpin sells “anything from a pack of hamburger to a whole cow.” All beef is inspected by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Turpin’s record keeping system allows him to trace every individual hamburger patty back to the specific animal it came from.
For product pricing information, go to Turpin & Arthur’s Web site at taangus.com.