Today, we hauled 2 animals that are sold for October. Later this week we will haul the rest for processing.
There isn't really anything special about todays haul; woke up at 5 am, had coffee, discussed the plan for the day & loaded the 2 steers up. They will make a short 1hr & 30 min trip to Chino Valley, where our small-scale family-owned processing facility awaits. Within the hour of their arrival, the processing begins. We have chosen our processors carefully; quick & painless. Within the hour of arriving, so they will not have hours or even days of disturbance or stress.
No, there isn't anything extraordinary about today... Except there is.
Ryan & I raise, feed, water, rotate and honestly - Just hang out with our steers. I, personally, take hours to get the whole things finished because I talk to them, watch them. I'll sometimes curse at them for sticking there big 'ol head in the empty water trough I just moved & hooked up because they're horns are often large enough to pick the whole thing up and carry with them!
I'll sit quietly while they watch me, reaching out and getting them used to people.
Before we took over the business, Kimberley especially loved having me out there because I am good at settling them down. Coaxing them to trusting me, and knowing I'm not going to hurt them. I loved it! I have more pictures and videos of each bovine I've raised than flowers in my phone (if you know me at all, you'll see the importance of that)! I first came to the ranch to live & work in October 2015. In the first year, I cried more tears over our animals than ever.
Now, I do not want you to think I have become desensitized to death. In fact, through the last couple of years I have become more accepting to it. After all, we all die. Everything dies. I've lost my aunt, who practically was my older sister. A cousin, at 4 months old. I've tried saving barn kittens, birds, bunnies & calves. I spent nights up & nurturing young animals who seem to be getting better - Then poof. They are gone. When a dogie calf (one who lost their mother or was abandoned by a young cow) makes it - We find a loving home for them. One of those was Gretchen; raised by Kimberley a dozen years ago. But, she one day just could not stand up & passed away. I am one who will always check troughs for drowning bee's, butterflies & wasps. When you want to grow a garden, you compost. That is death, to bring more life.
A bug caught in a spiders' web? No, I will leave it. That is how life goes.
When Ryan & I took over the beef business, we hadn't realized how much harder it would all be. Everyday we are with them; same for the pigs, chickens & lamb. Everyday we prioritize them. "No, sorry I can't come this weekend - We have animals to take care of."
Today, was not special. Until I got a call from Ryan after he unloaded the steers at Perkinsville Meats.
"Man, this is hard."
It is one thing to raise animals that you know are to feed families. It is another to bring them to the place to die.
At our Sept. delivery I had a new customer ask me about the processing. I wanted to cry.
To some of you, (and this is not meant to be mean); you are picking up a box of delicious, healthy grass-fed beef. Raised locally, processed locally & sustainably. This will feed you & your family for months - cutting off support to industrially farmed meats.
To me, to Ryan... We know the steer. Their coat, tag number and the day they were born. We know their mother, their quirks and even... How much meat the were able to provide you with.
My message today is: They are more than just a steak. They have helped our world by stepping, pooping & chewing. Their existence helped us take excess carbon out of the air and store in our soils. Being in the desert, we can only raise so many animals on the land, so we offer our beef to you. It keeps the balance. We cannot take more from our herd, or our land, than is available.