Monday, October 04, 2010


I moved to the country one year ago.  Since moving up to the woods of New Hampshire from the concrete jungle of New York City, I've learned a few things about the natural world.   We did some do-it-yourself home improvements like changing light fixtures and putting in electronic thermostats (neither of those is brag-worthy).  We made maple syrup, we cultivated a booming garden, and of course, I rode my lawn tractor.  I even learned how to do some simple repairs on the John Deere STX38 mower, including changing the mower drive belts.  

I mention all this because I just got off the phone with a neighbor who said "Hey, I know you're into trying new things - want to shoot a cow this week?"  He wasn't talking about troublemaking or sport - rather, a farm around the corner is slaughtering a cow (West Highland cattle) and my neighbor wanted to know if I wanted to see it.   Wow.  Now, I'm a meat eating man - I feel like I should see this.  This isn't exactly like going to a 10,000 head feed lot in California - this is a free range ranch with maybe 100 cows, so I think it's probably about as good as it gets for a cow. 

(I stole this image off a Google search, from

Still, I'm an animal lover, and I asked him, "Will the thing scream and convulse and make me sad?"  He replied, "Well, you know where hamburger comes from..."

Yes - and since I'm a hamburger lover, and not a hypocrite, I decided that I'm going to do this on Wednesday morning!  We'll shoot the cow, cut its throat to drain the blood, skin it, hang it, and then quarter it.  I think they might let it hang for a week before quartering it.
I'm not expecting to come back from this experience as a vegetarian, but I do expect that something blogworthy will come from it, and I'm virtually guaranteed to learn something.

Stay tuned.



But What do I Know? said...

It's a good thing to do one time at least, Kid, so you can see where the meat comes from. It makes you appreciate it a little more, IMHO.

scharfy said...

Actually this will be a good thing for you dude. Its connects you to the food kind of spiritually, and you end up respecting it and appreciating the food you eat so much more.

Seeing the life leave it connects you to nature in ways you cannot imagine.

Sorry to go all acid/mushroom trip on ya!!!

Good luck!

rjs said...

its good stuff to know, even if you hope you dont want to have to do it origins are city as well, but i recall my grandfather skinning rabbits he had trapped...& now, being surrounded by a private fir fish & game preserve, ive learned a lot from the oldtimers about field dressing wild game...

Anonymous said...

If you liked dissecting frogs in high school, you'll love slaughtering a cow. All the parts and pieces are huge! Be prepared for lots of strange and awful smells.

If, on the other hand, you didn't enjoy dissecting frogs...


TenMile said...

Gen up and print out a side of beef cutting chart, just for you're info - not theirs.

Ask casually where the hide goes, brains, heart and liver go.

It is an all day job for novices.

Don't worry about eating breadfast, unless it is afternoon work.A couple of Soda Crackers is fine.

The smell isn't contagious. And judging from your writings, you'll do fine.

EconomicDisconnect said...

This should be interesting.

Rod said...

Growing up in a small rural town, my uncles had cows and I have routinely seen the slaughter of the animal. It happens rather quickly, and is rather uneventful.

The thing you should do is ask to attend the cutting and wrapping. This is wear you get to learn about all the cuts. This will give you a chance to see where the cuts from and a good butcher will be able to give you a better understanding of what makes a quality cut.

transor z said...

Punt block - outstanding!

If your buddy hands you a dripping chocolate slab of bloody liver and tells you to eat and honor the animal's spirit, dude, he's putting you on.

TD Pats!

J Johnson said...

Nice, I am interested to read of your experience...I have never seen a cow, but we grew 2 pigs a year, and that had a pretty big impact, but definitely a good experience...

Nice of the neighbor to invite you over, you must have shed your city slicker hair-do and are fittin in with the country folk:)

Anonymous said...

Surely there are cases where it is best NOT to know too much about your food!