Warning: If you believe your food comes from a grocery store, factory, or a box, you may want to skip this post while I share with you the other side of farming.
The part that not even the farmers want to talk about.
While grass-fed meat is always a better choice, raising one's own beef (or any other meat!) comes with a price. The animals have faces. And if you have children, the animals also have names.
Angus was born on August 1, 2009, beneath the shade of a large maple tree. We knew that Bailey was "with calf", but had no idea as to her due date. In the past, we've named our calves; Meatball, T-Bone, Big Mac, Stella, and Liberty. (Stella & Liberty were heifer calves, so they got the cutesy names.) Because the little bull calf was destined to become a steer, we named him Angus, just to keep things in perspective.
From the beginning, Angus was a real charmer.
Bailey loved him. In fact, she loved him so much that she continued to allow him to nurse until we finally sent her to the "Swingin' Singles Spa"...last week.
Did I mention that he was two years old?
As people who raise our own meat, we do NOT look forward to butchering day. We try not to think of our meat animals as pets, but it is inevitable when you are responsible for their food and well-being. It is difficult to not become attached to a 2,000 lb. animal that stands at the garden gate waiting for produce that is past its prime. It is near impossible to not feel some kind of affection for an animal that stands vigil by your side, while you repair the very fence that just minutes before he broke through.
Because we made the decision to raise a steer for meat, we had to finish what we had started.
It was the responsible thing to do.
And while it is with great sadness that we look out into a field that Angus is no longer a part of, we are thankful for the time we had to enjoy him. Without knowing it, Angus is helping us move away from the grocery store mentality, and put thought into each and every decision we make on our little hobby farm. We were able to observe the butcher as he skinned, gutted, and eventually quartered our beef. We saw the mistakes that were made by our poor planning (too much fat), and the areas that we did exactly right (The marbling is perfect!). With every animal that is processed from our farm, we see ways to improve. And we know that even when it is difficult, we're doing what is right for our family.
Even when butchering day inevitably arrives.
Thank you Angus.
This post is linked to The Homestead Barn Hop.