Tuesday, February 25, 2014

We are a steer free family

In other words, Casanova and T-Bone went to freezer camp a few days ago.

I found it ironic- when we bought them, I said I was fine with all of the raising and caring for them, but when it came time for them to be "processed", I didn't want to be there. I was assured by many that I wouldn't need to be, that there were several people who WANTED to be there. I was even urged to schedule it on a Friday so that those with flextime schedules wouldn't have to take off work. When the time came, the only ones there aside from the guys I hired was the ever curious llamas and me.

Despite my tender heart and hippy, pacifist ways (I don't even kill spiders unless they're venomous!), I found the process very fascinating. A significant reason I agreed to raise beef for meat was because I felt it was important to be a conscientious consumer. I believe that we already were significantly more aware and careful than the average American, but this did bring it up a notch for me.

I was very impressed with how quickly, cleanly and efficiently the deed was done. The Butcher used a very old rifle. He shot them both within just a few seconds of each other. I don't think either of them even had time to form the thought that maybe this was not good when the trailer came back into the field. I could tell the trash cans on the side had a very interesting smell to the cows, as they kept sniffing them. While they were investigating that, it was lights out for both.

I won't go into details on the processing here, nor will I show photos. However, if you want to see the few I took, I'm happy to share. I just don't want to upset the sensitive.

I will say that I want the knives the Butchers used. It was amazing to watch how well they worked- they made the infomercial knives cutting through aluminum cans look like plastic sporks.

The other thing I will comment on is how skilled the Butchers were. It is obviously an art form to work so quickly so that the animals don't suffer. Then, to process it out so neatly, yet so fast. Despite myself, I was fascinated.

From our house, the Butcher took the sides to the meat cutting facility of my choice. There, they will hang for a couple weeks to age. Then, they will be cut, wrapped and frozen. I will come and pick them up, and we'll divide it amongst our other owners.

I was disappointed with the size of them. I haven't heard what the hanging weight was, but when it was all said and done, it seemed like a very, very small amount of meat. Butcher said that Casanova was the right size and fattiness for his age/breed, but T-Bone was small. We knew that though. I guess if I'd wanted more meat, I should've 1- bought an Angus, and 2- had it be mama fed for the first few months. Also, grass fed beef does tend to be leaner.

It occurred to me as I type this that I haven't had beef since they were taken to freezer camp 5 days ago. I don't eat a lot of beef, and I don't remember AVOIDING it, so I'm not sure if it's an accident or subconscious avoidance.

My emotions are complicated. It was hard to watch, and it was also a little sad. When I look over the field, and I still obsessively do, making sure they haven't escaped AGAIN, I'm 40% sad, and 60% relieved.

Scratch that, 80% relieved. I always had a mild-moderate amount of anxiety that the cows were going to escape, and cause trouble. Knowing that is never going to happen again (unless I get more cows) is a huge load off my mind.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Remembering a Mother

As you probably know, I am a Realtor. I think my favorite task as a Realtor is showing homes to buyers.

When getting a home ready to show, the traditional advice is to de-personalize the home so that others can imagine themselves in the house, as opposed to feeling like a guest in the home. I have a vivid imagination, so I often try to imagine the people who live(d) in the houses I'm showing. So, while de-personalizing to a certain degree is a good idea, if the home is absolutely occupied, but there's zero hints as to the people living there, it distracts me. I advise my clients that it's ok to have one or two photos on the wall, but that it shouldn't be an overwhelming presence. Just enough for them to see, "Oh, this family just gave birth to their third child. I bet that's why they're moving out of this two bedroom condo".

The other day, I was showing a vacant home. The house had wonderful potential, but was fairly dated. Vacant homes don't drive my imagination crazy like completely impersonal homes, so I just assumed it was an older couple was was scaling down, or possibly had died.

A man surprised us by popping up in the back greenhouse window, causing my client to nearly jump out of her skin. Once he recovered from his amusement, Dennis came in and gave us the tour. He was selling his parents' house. Dad had died 9 years earlier, and Mom had died this past September. As he gave us the tour, he told us about his mother. She seemed like such an amazing person that by the end of the tour, I simultaneously felt like I KNEW her, and mourned her loss, and the fact that I hadn't known her.

In one drawer, she had every owner's manual to everything she'd ever owned. Each sealed in a plastic bag and neatly labeled in her leftie handwriting. There was everything from a circa 1970s range to a twist on faucet regulator.

The yard had been her crown jewel, and she had won yard of the year a few times. Lining the back of the house was a row of mature rose bushes. They were perfectly pruned back, save the last two. The second to last one was partially pruned, and the last one was a bit overgrown. Dennis told us that his mother had fallen while pruning the rose bushes. That fall had caused a lot more internal damage than she realized, and she'd died within a few days. 

He buried her with roses from the remaining, unpruned bush, as well as her gardening gloves and shears. He felt she would've liked that.

He said the family couldn't bear to finish the rosebush job, so there it had stayed.

I'll admit I had noticed the perfectly groomed yard, and thought it was interesting that the rose bushes hadn't been completed. After hearing the story, I was nearly in tears, looking at those roses and knowing the significance and the story behind them.

It was a very interesting showing, and it was nice to remember the people that live in the homes I show.