A couple of weeks ago we said farewell to Chuck, the Holstein steer with which we began our animal-raising adventure. And on Tuesday we brought him home from the slaughterhouse (in between fetching a ton or so of chicken manure from South Fork). The slaughterhouse is the best of the three we’ve dealt with so far, but still far from perfect; the facility is new and clean and we like that the food is vacuum-packed, but the owner talks fast and doesn’t listen very well, so not only did we not get exactly the kind of cuts we asked for but we’re not sure why. They also won’t hang meat very long, but I gather this is a widespread problem these days. We were fortunate that the carcass hung for eight days; for the live weight we brought (800 lbs) they say the standard time is four days, but they got busy and forgot about it for awhile.
On Thursday, Chuck appeared on the table for the first time, in the form of hamburgers. We like our hamburgers a lot, so it was a good test, and he passed with flying colors—not too fatty, meaty, satisfying. And then on Saturday the ultimate test, a grill-full of T-Bone steaks. We were all quietly worried as we tried the first bites, since we have had some bad experiences with previous cows—even grain-fed ones were tough and flavorless—but Chuck came through for us again, tasting as good as we’ve had outside an expensive steakhouse, and surprisingly tender. We ended up with 390 pounds of cut meat, so we’ll be seeing him at the table frequently.
For the record, there have been no problems at all with the kids eating an animal they knew. We talked about it often, and they understand well that Chuck lived a good life and is now fulfilling his destiny with us.