I have a confession. I don’t always act like a farmer. I mean, sometimes I actually get a little attached to the animals we have to take to the butcher.
Sunday was a little tough for me…
This was the trailer that would carry our steer, Jed, away.
Complete with “air conditioning” and windows for viewing the scenery…
And this was the lock that would keep him from getting out of this trailer.
It was important that the wheels didn’t move at all when we loaded that 1,000+ pound steer…
and it was even more important that this lock kept the trailer attached to the truck!
I know all the logical facts that it takes to get the steer to the butcher.
But those last couple of days before the animal leaves,
my heart grows a little tender
and I stand at the fence line or the window a little longer than usual
watching them play and interact with the other animals on the farm.
Jed was raised by hand, purchased when he was only 3 days old.
We bottle fed him with milk from our goats
and we fed him the best hay we could buy.
He lived in a big pasture with Britches, our Boer goat, and the two of them would sleep together at night
along with Sage and Rosie, the sheep.
Jed never knew what it was to have a shot of hormones, or antibiotics.
He was pet, scratched behind the ears, and talked to by all of us
and the boy went out every day to make sure he had water and a little bit of grain.
So you see, for 18 months, we develop a relationship with our steers,
each one so different from the next in personality.
I’ll be the first to admit that some of the steers we’ve raised, we cheered when they went off to the butcher.
Like Rudy who would chase the kids in the pasture, and lifted me off the ground with his horns when I was trying to trim the hoofs of the goat.
But I am happy to say that of all the steers we’ve raised, only one or two left our farm to the sound of cheering.
I love animals, I always have.
I also know that animals provide valuable meat for us.
So on the days we have to take one of our animals to the butcher, there’s a conflict for me
between my head and my heart…
It’s so important to me that my children have a healthy respect for the life of an animal, raising that animal in the best conditions we can provide.
I also want them to understand that animals have a purpose and sometimes that purpose is to provide food for us.
I’ll miss Jed
and the way he licked all the animals, including Jack when he slept with Jed at night.
I’m grateful for the 18 months we had him and that we were able to allow him to live as a steer should.
Some may not understand this connection, the raising up to have them butchered. And yet, every piece of meat served on a plate came from some animal.
How privileged I am to know my animals, to love on them, give them a good life, and to tell them thank you.
And when I bow my head at meal time, I’m truly thankful for the food on my plate. There’s a humbled respect and desire not to be wasteful
I know and cared for the life that was sacrificed to feed me and my family and friends.
Thank you, Jed.