We bought a cow. Well, no; we bought a quarter of a cow.
I’m not willing to give up eating meat at this point in my life. I’ve cut way, way back—because of price, because of my growing unwillingness to eat meat that may be the result of less-than-natural circumstances, because both Foodie and my daughter are too willing to tell me how inhumane it is—but I still eat and enjoy meat.
If I’m going to eat it, and serve it to the meat-eating portion of my family, I want to make the commitment to eating natural/local. So when a friend called and told me that she’d located a source for local beef, I told her I was absolutely in. Sign me up! I’ll buy part of that cow!
Time passed and I sort of forgot about it. And then the emails began. “The beef is coming next week,” I was told. Then: “The beef is probably coming Wednesday.” And finally: “Definitely Saturday. He’ll call you before he delivers.”
We stayed home all day on Saturday and the beef didn’t end up coming until around 7:00, but that was fine. I’d defrosted our big freezer earlier in the week, in preparation, and I’d also moved its entire contents to our kitchen freezer to make sure I had plenty of room. I was rather surprised to discover that a quarter of a cow doesn’t even come close to FILLING the freezer. I still have plenty of room in there for things like homemade chicken stock that I was saving specifically for my chicken-soup-loving daughter who now won’t eat it. Not that I’m bitter, or anything.
Anyway, I was prepared for this to be sort of An Experience. I’ve never purchased meat in bulk like this, before. And honestly we’ve never eaten all that much beef, so buying a cow probably made less sense than buying a bunch of local chickens, but I’m going to divvy up my take with a couple of friends, and the result will be enough beef to feed us for a year. (Note to my father: Bring your nitro on your next visit! We’ve got STEAKS!) What I was not prepared for was Dr. Beef.
Dr. Beef delivered our meat. He’s a retired professor and friends with the parents of the friend who got me in on this purchase, and I’m sure he’s a lovely man. In fact, let me just be right up front with the ubiquitous southern, “BLESS HIS HEART,” with a little smile. The guy drove a quarter of a cow right out to our house. I’m grateful for it. But I was simply not prepared.
First of all, Dr. Beef was clearly old-school southern. And by that I mean that he spoke directly to Otto and always seemed VERY SURPRISED when I spoke. Apparently I was supposed to be seen and not heard, if my husband was available to carry on the conversation. This continued the entire time he was here, even after I was the one who wrote him the check for the meat. I got the distinct impression that he thought it was cute that I was allowed to handle the money.
Second, Dr. Beef knows everything. And he feels very sorry for how stupid we are. He knows the proper way to handle beef and that you should never thaw it at room temperature because “Ecoli is real, and that’s a fact.” I appreciate the tip, but the lecture with which it was delivered was a bit of overkill, especially given that it was predicated on the assumption that I (naturally, being the woman, and therefore the cook) must always thaw things on the counter because I’m just too daft to know any better.
At one point he went on and on about how much the kids were going to enjoy the beef, so we commented that Monkey is a big carnivore but Chickadee is a vegetarian. Dr. Beef then inquired as to her age and when I answered, he waved his hand around and said to Otto, “Oh, that’s just a phase. She’ll come around.”
You know what? It might just be a phase, but it might not. And if you’ve never so much as met my kid, I’m not really interested in your assessment of her choices. CALL ME CRAZY.
Along with knowing everything, Dr. Beef knows everyONE. And he started telling us a story about “Joe and Mary Smith, you know them, right?” and when we didn’t know them, well, that just caused him to STOP RIGHT IN HIS TRACKS and ask with EVEN MORE SYMPATHY (and you understand, the sympathy was already flowing freely, what with our stupidity about meat handling, and poor Otto having to endure a wife who SPEAKS) where we go to church. Because apparently everyone at HIS church knows Joe and Mary Smith.
In response to the church question, Otto’s eyes immediately glazed over, and as he opened his mouth—doubtless to confess that we’ve been a bit lax about church attendance lately—I rushed to name the church we last attended. Telling Dr. Beef that we weren’t regular parishioners anywhere right now would surely invoke a sermon I was not interested in hearing while my hands were numbing up from juggling packages of ground beef.
“Oh, yes. I know that one,” Dr. Beef commented, nodding slightly, eyes narrowing. I’d named a church quite a bit more liberal than his own home church. He was probably considering all of the horrible things going on there. Why, they welcome people who are GAY. And who have TATTOOS. They’re practically allowing their congregation to fornicate in the aisles, and I could almost hear him thinking that every single attendee doubtless defrosts their beef at room temperature!
He looked back at Otto, even though I’d been the one to answer. “Well, you should come on out to our church, sometime!” he urged him. (“Break away from the demon woman,” was the clear subtext.) Otto nodded and said something non-committal, and by this point I was just plain annoyed.
So I cheerfully added, “Oh, we’ve been to your church! We took the kids trick-or-treating there last year!” It was true. We had a great time. And isn’t that what church is for? Candy and devil-worship? (No?)
Once the meat was unloaded, we assumed Dr. Beef would be on his way. But he was mighty comfortable, there in the driveway, chatting with Otto. He gestured at the barrels Otto was working on (we’ve gone from having a single rain barrel to an entire RAINWATER CONTAINMENT SYSTEM to the tune of 200 gallons of storage this weekend, WOOOO) and asked if he’d gotten them cheap. Otto—happy to finally have an opening to say something that wouldn’t cause this man to cluck in dismay—nodded and shared that each 55-gallon drum was only $16. “That’s not cheap,” snapped Dr. Beef, again sorry for us for being so idiotic. He didn’t offer any information as to where HE gets his cheap barrels, though, so it remains a mystery.
Finally he got back into his vehicle and drove off, calling out “God bless you!” and assuredly returning to his home… where the cows range free, Ecoli is kept at bay, women stay silent, and giant barrels are free to the Godly.
I plan to be especially opinionated on a variety of topics every time I eat some of that beef. Just because I can.