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Thursday, October 20, 2011

The one you know

All my growing up years, we ate our own meat.  Which means we kept an animal or two of each variety back from the sales barn and they went into our freezer.  This means that we often knew our food.

My mom tells the story that when I was three, she had the new pastor and his family over for dinner.  She made roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy.  I piped up from the end of the table, "Mom!  What part of Hildegaard are we eating now?"  Now THAT'S local food!

I'm passing the torch to my three year old daughter.  Two weeks ago we bought three grassfed lambs from a local farmer.  I was raised on lamb, I love lamb.  If I was ever to commit a capital crime for which I would receive a last meal it would be BBQ lamb ribs, wild rice and creamed peas.

So when the opportunity to have lamb for the winter arose, we jumped on it like a lamb headed for the gate.  Hubby, Kiddo1 and Kiddo2 went to get the sheep.  Kiddo3 and I went to the office for a few hours.  We all met back at the farm (not THE FARM), the kiddos running to inform me that we had sheep and I had to come see!  I did.  We fed them grass.  Then all the kiddos went to take a nap.  The Hubby and I went to "harvest" some sheep.

Like I said, I grew up with sheep.  I've wrangled literally thousands of them.  The Hubby not so much.  His only lamb experience was the roast I made for him last year.  (He loved it!  Hence the reason we had three live ones in the back of the pickup.)  Now we had to get the live ones into dead ones.  I'm good with sheep, not so good with killing things.  I'll spare you the details, but there was some sheep riding (me) and pistol packing (Hubby) and knife wielding (Hubby) and leg holding (me).

And betwixt the two of us we got two lambs from this:

To this.

Then the kiddos woke up from their nap.  To be honest, the kids like watching us butcher chickens.  But I wasn't sure how the last lamb would go since they were so excited about getting them.  We had a talk which went something like this:
"The sheep that you brought home today are not pets, they are to eat.  Just like the chickens.  The chickens aren't our pets, they are food for us.  And just like the chickens, we're going to take the skin off the sheep.  We're going to take the head off.  And we're going to take the guts out."

Kiddo1 looked at me with her big blue eyes and said, "Mommy, for my five birthday, can we get sheep we don't eat?"  (This one plans birthdays well in advance, her four birthday is her kitty birthday and that's in May.  Plan accordingly.)

And that was it.  They were completely fine with it.  They got their lawn chairs and sat and watched us shouting, "What you doing now, Dad?"

Hubby sent me this quote today:

“How can you bear to eat an animal you've known personally?”

To which the logical answer seems to be: "How can you bear to eat one you haven't?!"
There is a reverence to harvesting and processing your own meat.  There is nothing (short of natural childbirth) that is as empowering as packing away food you've worked for, harvested, prepared and loved yourself.  And no one wants to give birth three times a day...
The one you know tastes the best.

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