Sunday, October 28, 2007

Moo

One thing I’ve learned since moving to a rural community is it’s not uncommon for farmers who raise cattle to sell the beef to individuals instead of grocery stores. This was a new concept to me, and the first time someone asked if I wanted to buy part of a cow I was befuddled. I mean, I don’t even want a dog – why would I want part of a cow? After she explained the cow was frozen and in one-, two-, and three-pound packages I got on board and my family has enjoyed locally grown beef for the past two years.

So far I’ve simply been a participant on two cow purchases, but this year I’ve been the contact between the cow owner, butcher shop and the other families who want to share a cow. Actually, I’ve only communicated via email with one other woman, Sally. Sally was supposed to be communicating the impending doom of our Bessie to her sister and another friend who were going in on the purchase with us.

Did you catch the phrase, “supposed to be”?

Turns out, Sally, whom I don’t know well and do not see on a regular basis, was in her third trimester the entire time we were emailing each other. In an apparent pregnancy brain fart, she neglected to tell her sister and friend about the cow going to the slaughterhouse two weeks ago. And then she went and had the baby on Thursday and I couldn’t get in touch with anyone to tell them about the cow, which must be picked up from the butcher on Monday. As in tomorrow.

So Friday and Saturday were extremely stressful days for me because I was on the line for a 946 pound cow, which in accountant-speak is $1,655, not to mention $398 in butcher fees, for a grand total of $2,053. This may come as a surprise, but I don’t have two grand sitting around to be spent on a cow.

And that doesn’t even take freezer space into account. Can you imagine stuffing 946 pounds of beef into your freezer? We have an extra fridge in the garage, but even using both freezers I couldn’t store that much cow in my refrigerators.

I finally got through to someone at Sally’s house on Saturday and said, “YOU HAVE TO GET A MESSAGE TO SALLY! THE COW IS READY!” (The woman who took the message proceeded to tell me about the beefalo she raised and how one of them had a calf that was damaged in delivery so they just killed it and ate it and it was the best beef she’d ever had. So glad I heard that story.) I must have sounded desperate enough because one of Sally’s friends called me and was quite incredulous. She had no idea the beef was ready.

Thankfully she was able to get in touch with the other people and I’ll be able to get the cow to them and they’ll get checks to me.

So all’s well that ends well, I guess, but I must tell you I was sweating bullets on Saturday when I thought I’d have a whole cow to myself. And I was pretty sure I’d be dead meat when Sean found out I’d spent $2,000 on red meat.