Saturday, March 20, 2010


A few years ago, the first case of mad cow disease showed up in the US. While I was kind of drunk on New Year's Eve, my father-in-law asked if I wanted to go in on some steers. He had raised some in the past. I, of course, said yes. I was lit and didn't really consider the consequences of that yes.

Then my mother-in-law was upset at the idea of having animals again. My wife was upset at how much time was needed build a fence. My sister-in-law wasn't thrilled with the idea - her husband also said yes the night I did. It was a lot of work building the fence. Took a summer of weekends to build. And there is the random but semi-annual "you've got to be here tomorrow at 4 to get hay" phone call. Spring and fall maintenance on the fence. And just little stuff that comes up. The projects now aren't too bad. A day here and a day there. Usually no more than a few hours at a time and the work gets combined with a weekend visit. This spring, the fence will require a little extra work. A car went into the ditch and took out a few posts (no injuries other than broken fence posts). The electric part of the fence has been acting up too.

The way my father-in-law has everything set up, it is hard to complain. He has a tractor that does a lot of the work. Portable generators and an air compressor that can go into the field for working on the fence. But the best is the conveyor belt that he picked up at an auction. We just have to stack the hay. They used to have to carry the bales up stairs. Three of us got 200 bales into the barn in no time a few weeks ago.

The experience has changed a lot about how I treat food. I waste less and try to use more of what I have. I've learned a lot from the butcher -this guy is right out of a Hemingway novel. There is definitely more for me to learn. I haven't really gotten into offal and I'm trying to find out if I can preserved any natural casings. The quality of the beef is great.The downside is that you end up with cuts you wouldn't normally buy, but that is a learning experience too.

If everything follows the current schedule, the larger two steers are getting slaughtered next Saturday.

1 comment:

  1. An admirable amount of work, sir. I think it is wonderful that you are so connected with the life cycle of food in this way. I think it's undeniable how connecting with the animals you are going to eat makes you appreciate the food that comes from them that much more.