Styrofoam Platters and Saran Wrapby Darlene on 06/21/12
Tomorrow I have to go to the butcher shop to pick up the steer we had raised up for the freezer. I don't think I'll ever forget the day when I had to take him down there though...
From the moment we got "Big Mac", he was slated for the freezer. I've never raised a cow before for this purpose but I started on that journey keeping an emotional distance, knowing that he was meant to feed our family. What I didn't realize was that there is no way you can spend 2 years with an animal and not have them somehow impact your life. There are memories, regardless of whether I want them or not...things like watching him dance all the way down the pasture (if a cow can dance, he surely did) when it was feeding time. He looked so dorky...he was massive and it was funny to see him somehow being light on his feet as his heart soared with joy over his nighly favorite treats.
There are memories of him with the dogs, especially Yaylar. I have a couple of pictures of the two of them...it was such an arresting moment, I couldn't resist capturing it on the camera. There he laid, resting in the afternoon, chewing his cud while Yaylar laid cuddled up with them. They would periodically touch noses and it was obvious to see that they enjoyed each others company and had a special bond.
During the winter when we'd put the large 5'x6' rolls of hay in his pasture she would always jump up on top of the roll and sit there, scanning the horizon while he munched on the hay beneath her. It was funny to watch her crawl up those rolls...she'd slip and slide until she finally got her paws firmly planted on top of the roll and he wouldn't bat an eye as he ate the hay.
When the day finally came to take him in, I couldn't escape a profound sadness that overcame me. I kept telling myself over and over, "he was raised to feed your family...he is not a pet". While I intellectually understood that, my heart just couldn't seem to align up with that fact.
As I drove down to the town south of me where he would be processed for our freezer I found myself breaking into tears. This part of farming is hard.
An indignation rose up in my heart as I pictured white plastic styrofoam trays, surrounded by saran wrap with stickers on it. What a lie.
I hear people say all the time, "I could never do what you do. I could never raise an animal to ultimately feed my family".
Well, let me let you in on a little secret. You'll never know the deep meaning...you'll never experience the depth of really meaning "Thank You Lord for this food" ...you'll never understand the genuine gratitude for the sacrifice an animal gave to keep your family healthy...until you raise one yourself.
For me, the "Thank You Lord's" were important to say, they were the right thing to do, a tradition perhaps, before each meal we ate. I was stunned the first time I said, "Thank You Lord" for a meal we had raised ourselves. I really meant what I said...I really felt that gratitude in my heart and I experienced what Grace before a meal was really meant to be.
These truths may be cloaked on styrofoam trays under saran wrap but it doesn't negate the fact that there are those of us that look at that and know something more than the average consumer. It doesn't matter if that cow or pig or lamb or chicken came from a feed lot where the bottom line is profit. Each of those animals still had the potential to be a "Big Mac"...lovingly raised on a farm where they are valued and appreciated for who and what they really are.
It's been 3 weeks since I took him in and this blog has laid on my heart the whole time. I guess I needed to talk about this in the hopes that it will remind people to look past the plastic wraps and remember what it's really all about...regardless of whether they raise their own foods or not.
Tomorrow when I serve the beef we raised ourselves I'll be remembering, respecting and appreciating all that went into that provision.