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Putting a face with your food

That may sound a little strange but it's something our family has thought and talked about quite a bit lately.  As you know, we are new to hobby farming.  We have never raised farm animals before this year and we have definitely not raised them for our own food.

So today, butcher day for our steer and our three pigs, was a big deal.  But first we had to get them in the borrowed trailer.  That was no small task!  Easy going Ribeye was quickly persuaded.  But the pigs were challenging at best.  There are no pictures of that process because I had to enter that nasty pen!  With pig poo on my face, the shower was the first stop for me after trailer loading.  But I don't want to talk about that!

Good ole Ribeye
Countless people have told us, "I couldn't eat an animal that I raised."  Some people don't eat animals at all.  But for most of us, I ask this question... How can we not put a face with our food?  Chickens don't come from the freezer sections, after all.  The burgers that we grab at a drive thru came from a pasture somewhere out there.  Someone cared for that animal whether they had 3 or 3,000.  As a culture we have become disconnected with our food and never think about where it came from and how it was treated.  Honestly, we don't want to. It's unfortunate really ~ for us and the animals. 

Bacon, Sausage & Pepperoni not ready to get in the trailer

Caring for farm animals not only connected us with our food but has taught all of us selflessness and responsibility.  And caring for them is no small task.  Rain or shine, hot or cold, they must be provided for.  Provide for them, we did ~ lush pasture for the steer, mud holes for the hogs and scratches behind the ears for each daily.  They lived charmed lives by animal standards here at the farm.

Now these animals will provide food for our table in return. Do I feel a little bit bad about it?  Sure.  But I still feel good about raising our own meat.  There is nothing wrong with putting a face with your food.  I think it will make us appreciate it more when it's on the plate.

Off to the butcher they go

Comments

  1. Love this! My in-laws are getting older and each year my father-in-law says: "THIS will be the last year for me to raise and butcher beef for you all!" We have been very fortunate that they have provided meat for us for many years!! My hubby and I have raised cattle for years but I keep saying I don't know if I'm quite ready for the responsibilities of feeding the steer/heifer everyday...looking it in the eyes and then eating it! Thanks for a "different" outlook on it! :)

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  2. We have been talking a lot about this at our house too...about how you have a new respect for an animal when they give their life for yours. You can no longer throw away or waste parts of their precious life they gave...you want to use the whole animal. This is something that we as an American culture have gotten away from and we here on our little farm want to redeem.

    I think what you guys are doing is just great!
    xo
    Caroline

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  3. How old was your steer? Since this is your first year raising these animals, do you have any specific references that you used to learn about how to take care of them, particularly the feed? We are talking about doing this at our place but I am very apprehensive since I have never done anything of this scale in the past. We just started this year with chickens.
    Thanks!

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  4. i think this is a fine post. you make meat-eating up close and personal so folks appreciate it a bit more (maybe...) it is a fact of most of our lives...

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  5. We too butcher our own..or I should say have them butchered.The first year we were married..we actually did all our own butchering..of the chickens and the pigs and of course deer meat.
    We recently thru the years have had all the aninals including goat butchered and smoked locally.We talking about building a smoke house and doing it again ourselves next year.It takes a community of help to do it yourselves...lol
    Thanks for sharing.Cindy from Rick-Rack and Gingham

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  6. You all are so encouraging! Thank you.
    Countryman,
    We did have some help from a rancher down the road from us. I would recommend finding someone like that locally that you can turn to for advise along the way. One thing that we have found is that if you find someone who loves what they do, they are more than happy to help you do it too. We did grain feed our calves this year along with grass and hay. The grain was purchased through the rancher so I don't know specifically what it was, only that it was purchased thru a local farm coop.

    Our boys are going to get 10 steers soon and are planning on grass feeding only. We did have some problems with our steer a few weeks ago. We increased his grain, especially cracked corn, to "feed him out" and he got acidosis. Too much grain too fast and his rumem fermented. We worried and stressed over it, esp. my husband but he recovered and was finished without much grain. He was 1 year and we think he will weigh in at 1,200 lbs. The next steers if on all grass will take two summers to finish out and be butchered as long yearlings. The Storey's Guide to Beef Cattle has basic info but an experienced rancher would be great to come along side too. Hope that helps. You can do it!

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  7. Wonderful! How we'd love to be in your position... one day (hopefully soon). We're trying to get the money together to get the animals in the first place..... and yes, I do have some worries about eating these animals we've 'spoken' to every day, but I doubt that we'll have any problems once the rib-eye steak is on the plate ;)
    You'll thank God too for every meal you have out of these gifts He gave you, and you looked after for these months....
    From a lip-licking, and slightly envious friend!

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  8. Brava, Kim, for taking your farming the whole nine yards. I had hoped I'd be able to process the chickens I raise, but was never able to get my head around it. Instead, I've become a vegetarian. I sure miss the taste of meat, but feel that if I want to eat it, I should be able to take it from beginning to end, and appreciate it that way. I congratulate you and your family for taking the difficult road and learning so much from it.

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  9. Good job. We've feed out one of our steers for the last 3 years. I pretty much don't know how to cook anything else any more. I bought some chicken awhile back and my daughter couldn't identify the smell of what was cooking. You'll have plenty of meat.

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  10. Is so neat to hear about others experiences. In our neck of the woods, we are fortunate to have the Breeze Farm set up by our county. Its an enterprise incubator that seeks to revitalize agriculture activity in our area thru training on small scale sustainable farming techniques. Its an 8 week course to help "newbies" figure it out. We learn from farmers, Ag. professionals, and each other. Topics each week included whole farm planning, soil/irrigation techniques, crop rotation, insects/diseases, livestock integration, etc. It was extremely intensive. There is a field component also. I don't want to fill up your space with all this, but it was SO good to have them there for us. Good luck. I believe in our county agents. They have been extremely helpful + I live next door to a man I'll call Mr. Agriculture. He goes to Japan and Brazil for our state to talk about the soybeans and corn. Good luck folks. Sounds like you're doing great. Debi

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  11. Congrats on your first home-grown meat! Wonderful post, and I think everyone should try to put a face to their food and know where it comes from.

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  12. Wonderful! Absolutely wonderful!

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  13. What a great post! I ran across your blog from another and just wanted to stop by and say hello. This was very informative!

    www.thisfarmfamilyslife.blogspot.com

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  14. Thank you for that post. I have lived on a farm all my life. First a dairy farm and then on to a beef and grain farm. Yes indeed, to many people have not put a face to their food. Bags of frozen chicken breasts and wings don't just end up in the freezer section of the grocery store. You are fortunate to be able to raise your own meat and really know where it comes from. To many aren't afforded that luxury. For most of my life I have always where and how my meat was produced.

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  15. Blog hopped here from Mountain Mama, it's always so fun to see a fellow Okie in blog-land. Your little red house is so cute! Our house is currently on the market, because we want to do what you're doing; hobby farm!
    Right now I have chickens and dairy goats on our little 2 acre backyard, and we go back and forth raising beef on family land...I have to agree with you, how can you NOT put a face to your food. I'd rather eat something I fed than not.
    Great blog!

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  16. Okay, this is going to sound crazy, but I just read your farm animal page and I'm almost for certain we bought Nigerian Dwarfs from the same breeder! The Bate family at Shekinah Creek? We have two does from them and depending on where you're at I would be verrrrry interested in seeing if you would be willing to breed your buck this fall? You can email me if that's easier and you have the time (flowers7886 at yahoo dot com)!

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  17. Well done. What an awesome experience this last year has been for your family.

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  18. An interesting post. Eating your own meat would definitely mean you're more conscientious about using it all wisely..not wanting any to be wasted or unappreciated. I like your sensibility!

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  19. I raise meat rabbits. When I get the ubiquitous snarl of "how can you eat the Easter Bunny?", I inform them that my Risen Lord doesn't hide eggs but He makes a mean four footed protein source. And He insists, since the time of Noah, that I have dominion over that creature and all others He has provided for my nourishment.

    I explain to them that I find it SINFUL to eat factory farmed and tortured animals---not meat in general, but FACTORY FARMED meat.

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