From Field to Table..Family Style Food Production

Since moving to the farm, we have had a crash course with the concept of food going from the field to table…family style.  I will be the first to admit that at first it was at first very strange concept.  We, like the majority of Americans, were completely disconnected from knowing where our food came from.  However, lately we have had plenty of opportunities to get use to the age old idea of family food production. 
Yesterday, we took our steer to the butcher.  He weighed in at 1,080 lbs!  I was surprised he weighed so much!  We also loaded up a pig weighing in at 205 and two lambs that each weighed 50 lbs.  Had we of known the lambs were only 50 lbs, we probably would have waited a little while before processing them.  
We were concerned about loading up the animals on the trailer.  Our last experience with loading up an animal to take to the butcher was traumatic.  Traumatic only because the pig would not hop up in the trailer like we were expecting him to. Only after lots of dragging, pushing and ear deafening pig squealing, was the 300 lb pig finally in the trailer. That day we found out that they don’t just hop up in the trailer when you want them too. 
However, we learned a few things from last time.  First, don’t feed them before you load them up.  You will want them hungry so they come to the feed you lure them in with.  Second, park the trailer in the field the night before and put a feeding trough in it.  They will want to check it out. 
The guys put a feeding trough and feed in the trailer the day before.  They left the trailer open and in the field over night.  The next morning our 12 year old went out to the trailer and put some more feed in the trough.  He then ran up the hill to go find the cows and bring them down.  When he arrived back at the trailer, to our great astonishment, the pig was waiting for him.  He was lounging in the feed trough inside the trailer.  WOW, that was easy!  Our steer wasn’t as easy, but compared to what we were expecting… 
Now we were ready to head off to the butcher.  We had about an hour and a half truck ride with 8 children and a trailer full of animals.  We arrived at the Yoder’s butcher shop and went inside to fill out our order.  They hand you a sheet of paper for each animal you bring in and ask you how you would like him.  Roasts or Steaks, thick or thin, tenderized or not, medium or hot sausage etc. etc. etc.  After we filled out our orders, it was time to drive around back and unload.
The boys help unload. 
Here they try to coax the cow off the trailer and into the weighing station. 
Little ones look on with great interest. 
Still trying to coax the cow…only this time out of the weighing station.  I became a bit concerned when the executioner began to yell at the cow, “HOOO, YHAWW, I don’t have all day cow!” 
Maybe I should get the children back in the truck??
The Yoder’s butcher shop is quite large.  The children look on at the work taking place.  Our 3 year old asked, “Is this the place where they take the cows apart?” 
It was a great field trip…that is…for those who enjoy loading and unloading messy animals and watching people cut up meat.   We will return in about 3 weeks to pick up our meat. 

1 Comment

  • Carmen says:

    We are seriously considering building a place for a “freezer pig” this fall so we are prepared this coming spring. When did you get your pig and when did you take it to be butchered? If you don’t mind my asking about how much per pound is it to have it butchered? We are hoping to not only know where the meat comes from but also to save money. Also, for a 200-ish pound pig how much meat did you actually get?
    The kiddos want to name him something sweet like Wilbur but my husband and I are voting for Porkchop, Hammy, or Bacon!