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Ask Matt ... where's the beef (alo)?

Beefalo graces at Pope Farm on U.S. 64 in Horse Shoe. Beefalo graces at Pope Farm on U.S. 64 in Horse Shoe.

Q. What are those gray metal containers that they just set near US 64 West across from Briggs Garden Center?

The Pope Family Farm, a six-generation operation in Horse Shoe, is going retail. Steelie Runion and her husband, Sam, are now expanding the beefalo business. “We both lost our jobs to Covid and had to figure out something else to do,” Steelie said. “Expanding the beefalo market looked promising.” Sam Runion said the refitted metal cargo containers will be for retail sales, one for beefalo meat and the other for fresh produce and cut flowers. Pumpkins and Frasier firs will follow.
The Pope farm has raised beefalo for years on its 32-acre farm on US 64 West. “Barley’s Tap Room in Asheville has been one of our biggest beefalo customers,” said Steve Pope, a retired professional baseball scout but now involved with the family business.
Steelie and Sam Runion, who will manage the operation, have named it “Packa’s Place,” which is a family name. When the retail shop opens this summer, customers can buy frozen cuts of beefalo meat including ground beef, steaks, jerky, roasts, stew meat, and soup bones all depending on availability. It has not yet been decided if Packa’s Place will serve adult beverages but there is obvious potential since the property is about 100 feet from the Ecusta Trail corridor.
A full-blooded Beefalo is three-eighths American Buffalo and five-eighths domestic cattle. The Packa’s Place website lists the attributes of the meat including no tenderizers, preservatives, medicated feeds, added hormones, antibiotics or additives. Pope Farm beefalo meat is organic, grass-fed and free range. Beefalo is widely known to be lower in fat, calories, and cholesterol and higher in protein than beef. Hey, what’s not to like?


Q. I recently read about Commissioner Rebecca McCall’s interest in roadside clean-up. Well, there has been a large dead deer in the ditch on US 64 West for over a week. Who is responsible for removal?

If the animal is in state right-of-way, it is NCDOT’s responsibility but the larger problem is finding someone to call it in. I took the information provided and tried out our state’s “DOT REPORT” online system. It was simple. You just type in the location of potholes, malfunctioning traffic lights, blocked culverts, and yes, dead animals. I reported Bambi’s demise on a Friday, already five days after being hit by a vehicle. The following Monday she was gone. I later spoke to Harold Clark, a supervisor in NCDOT’s Henderson County maintenance division. He confirmed his crews did the pick-up but also that he got the message from Raleigh via the online reporting system. Yes, proof positive that the system works.
Using traffic counts on U.S. 64 West, I estimated that some 115,000 vehicles passed by the deer before it was removed. I contacted our county sheriff’s office and learned that deputies typically only report dead animals in the travel portion of the roadway. If the animal is not a safety hazard it may not get reported. For this deer, obviously it wasn’t – and didn’t.
Going a step further, I asked Clark where the carcasses are taken. “We bury large animals such as deer at our designated disposal area off U.S. 176,” He said. “If it’s a dog with a tag, we remove it and try to contact the owner. If it’s a bear, we notify the state wildlife people so they can check for other symptoms.” The County’s solid waste transfer station does not accept large animal carcasses.

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