Taking the Sheep

I didn’t mean to be “away” so long. I spent my day off trying to help my cousin out with her new baby. It went pretty well but that on top of not sleeping well the night before I had to take the sheep in means I’ve been very tired! I’ve got a knitting class this afternoon but wanted to sneak in an update about how things went.

Brian worked in the soybean field until after dark on Monday night so we got up at 5 on Tuesday morning to load the sheep before he went to work. The loading went pretty smooth, almost too smooth. That darn sheep has only had a halter on him 2 or 3 times but he walked on a rope like a pro and jumped right in the trailer. Figures! 😉

I memorized the little map Brian drew me so I knew exactly where to go and where to park at the slaughterhouse. Normally, with cattle, you back the trailer right up to the gate. Since I just had the one sheep it was quicker for me to just park and walk him in. As I was driving in I could see in through an open door on the one side. Their was a whole steer carcass hanging, already skinned and ready to hang until further processing. I didn’t see much else in there.

I walked up to the gate before unloading the sheep. There were two pigs squealing in a corner pen and a small group of muddy steers in another pen. Two men were in there attempting to rearrange the steers. The man I talked to was nice enough as he pointed to a small, narrow pen where I could put my lone sheep. His appearance was something that I should have expected but didn’t. He wore a thick plastic apron. Stains all down the front of it were evidence of the blood that had run there. Two or three different meat cleavers and knives swung from his belt. On his face were black, thick rimmed glasses that were so cliche I almost laughed.

The pens were not what I expected either. For some reason I pictured pens made out of wooden slats with muddy straw for bedding. Perhaps under a leaky metal roof off the side of the building. Instead this was more like a garage: completely enclosed and part of the main building. The pens were almost as tall as the ceiling and consisted of round metal bars. Picture jail cells for lack of a better description. The floor was cement. Relatively clean – since the pens are empty most of the time – and with no bedding. I led my sheep in the pen, removed his halter, and shut the gate. Then I got the hell out of there!

I pulled around the the front and went in the customer entrance. By chance Brian had mentioned our meat chickens once while he was picking up a quarter of beef. The owner, Sally, apparently gets a lot of requests for chickens. She has already referred over two customers and promises to send more. She wanted to try one of our chickens for herself so I dropped one off while I was there. The customer area was pretty tame with a glass meat display and view of the offices. Everyone I spoke with was very friendly.

So overall, not bad. I worked it up to be way worse than it was. I did NOT sleep well the night before and was so stressed out that I didn’t feel good. I was fine after dropping him off besides wondering a few times throughout the day if he had met his fate yet. Considering the purpose of that place it wasn’t as bad to visit as it could be. Maybe someday I’ll be really brave and ask for a behind the scenes tour. I bet the actuality of what goes on there isn’t as bad as one could imagine.

Our cattle and sheep get to sleep in the sun on grass pastures until hours before their demise. If they are in a pen it has fresh, soft bedding with clean water and plenty of food. I greatly regret that their last few hours must be filled with horrible sounds and smells. I can only find solace in the fact that the bulk of animals butchered for the masses spend their entire lives in the conditions that mine only spend a few hours. That alone makes all of this worth it to me!

For those in the area we take our animals to Caro Packing and are very happy with Sally, her staff, and the service they provide.

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