Oscar Mayer has nothing on me. I know the first name of all the red meat that comes through our kitchen because it comes right out of our pasture. And because my kids still name the animals, even though by now they know they are going to end up in the freezer. The first year we raised beef we had the entire X-men team grazing out back and after the kids went through the first slaughter process I was pretty sure they wouldn’t name them ever again. But I was wrong. Each year we have a new crop of calves in the pasture and the kids are out there naming them. Coffee, Brownie, Oldie, DQ, George, Hotrod, Frosty…the list goes on and on.
I’ve often heard that people think they would be vegetarians after watching the slaughter process but that really isn’t the case in my experience. We’ve raised our own beef since I was a kid and I’m still eating burgers. My kids have been witnessing this process for the last few years and it hasn’t slowed those little carnivores down. In fact, they respect the process and the animals even more.
The first time our son watched the mobile slaughter guy drop a steer, he turned pale and still. “Wow,” he said, “it’s so… sudden.” And that was the beginning of a great conversation about gun safety and how we never, ever play with guns or assume they are unloaded. It was, to be frank, the best object lesson for gun safety you could ever ask for.
Back to my burger…ah, here he is:
We’ll call this a before picture. His name is George and he hangs out in the pasture until the day he goes to his final resting place: our freezer. I know, some folks may call this unfeeling, but it’s the circle of life people.
Here are some of his buddies…
The kids have names for them but I can’t remember so we’ll just call them Larry, Curly and Moe. Or we can call them T-bone, Chuck Roast and Sirloin. They all live in a nice big pasture and eat all the grass they can handle. Over the course of a several months they gain lots of weight and live pretty simple lives. At the end of this time, they are killed as quickly and humanely as possible and the meat is processed at a local butcher shop. And it is awesome. It’s lean, flavorful and absolutely devoid of anything hinky.
It’s good to know the full life cycle of our food; another reason why we have chickens and a big garden too. And it makes me feel good to know that the kids will grow up understanding that cycle and respecting the animals that have a part in it.