There's an old adage about not naming what will eventually end up on your table...but we've found that giving our meat names has brought a greater sense of gratitude to us. When you look down at your plate and remember the face and character of the animal who gave its life for you, you immediately have something to thank, and you weigh its value accurately.
We raise animals to follow us with the grain or slop bucket...and so, in their final moments, boarding the trailer, they are as docile and as cooperative as ever. This makes the day bittersweet. There is definitely no air of jollity as we fill out our butcher orders, and leave a part of our farm behind in the waiting pens...it is a solemn day replete with all the emotions of relief, anxiety, excitement, and sadness rolled into one.
We have been talking lately about studying up on our home butchery so that we can get proficient enough at it to do all of the slaughter and meat cutting for our members as well as for ourselves. Loading up animals who have been pastured all their lives, and have never left the farm, so that they can share holding pens on cement with other animals who have been kept in confinement is incongruous with our philosophy of farming. When we butchered our own two pigs I was amazed at the map the muscles made for the cutting...and after a little practice it became second nature.
Culling is such an important task on the farm. It calls upon the steel nerves of a husbandman.
If emotion is allowed to hold the day when it comes to those cute lambs, or that darling sheep with the beautiful fleece and the completely flighty nature...than the herd can suffer exponentially for years to come, as the undesirable traits are passed down through the generations. Yesterday we had to cull all our white sheep...and just like that our flock was reduced from 15 to 9. I am struck by how this deliberate act of termination carries with it the ghost of regeneration, as the farmer's entire intention and mind lays in the land of future contingency and next generations, new seasons, new flocks...the end of any year necessarily carries with it the seed of the coming season. All the finality of these last harvests are seasoned with rebirth.
Lamb and Pork will be ready next Friday.