News

3 Sisters Cattle Company

Island girls provide grass-fed beef

By NATHAN WHALEN

Staff reporter

Ron and Shelly Muzall have been working a Whidbey Island dairy farm that has been in their family for the better part of 100 years. But while keeping the farm going, they realized it would be tough to pay for their three daughters’ education.

The solution was to have their daughters earn money and learn how to run a business at the same time.

As a result, the Muzzall sisters, Jennifer, Roshel and Jessica, spend their free time learning about something the family has experience with. They raise cattle, figure out a cost-effective way to get them slaughtered and sell there product at farmers markets on the island.

“We raise local grass-fed beef for local customers,” said 14-year-old Jennifer Muzzall, who operates 3 Sisters Cattle Company along with her siblings. They spend time after school ensuring their cows are well-fed and healthy.

In addition to saving for their education, the sisters hope the cash they earn will help for other major events that happen down the road, such as their weddings.

The sisters starting raising their cattle about two years ago. They point out that their beef is locally raised and also grass fed, which provides a healthier, less fatty product.

“People can come out here and see where their meat is coming from,” Jessica said.

A student at Oak Harbor High School, Jennifer wants to attend Washington State University to pursue an agriculture and natural resources degree.

Making money for their education got one of the other sisters to start thinking about her future.

Twelve-year-old Jessica Muzzall hadn’t thought of college until the business materialized. She is now toying with the idea of going into some kind of nutrition field.

While figuring out how to sell their beef, one problem they dealt with was how to get their product approved by the United States Department of Agriculture, as required by law. They solved this by joining the Island Grown Farmers Co-op, based in Bow.

Joining the organization gave the girls access to a mobile slaughtering unit that comes to their farm to slaughter the beef. It is then taken to Bow where it is inspected, processed and stored for about two weeks.

The Muzalls then pick up the frozen beef and sell it.

They have been selling the beef at farmers markets such as those in Coupeville and Bayview. Their mother, Shelly, takes the sisters and their beef to the markets.

The 3 Sisters have recently reached a deal with Ennens to sell their beef directly, which Jennifer said will cut out a middle man.

She is also incorporating her studies into the business. Last semester, she took a money management course and is taking a Web site development course and will be developing a site to promote the meat.

Jennifer said that the sisters are concentrating on building their customer base.

Cattle call

For islanders, grass-fed beef has been available only by mail order from far, far away. Now locally-grown, grass-fed beef is no farther than Scenic Heights Road.

For information about the 3 Sisters Cattle Company and to get a price listing, call 675-2136.

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