As a ranch direct beef business, our beef is normally harvested and processed at our local USDA meat processing facility. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t harvest our own beef for our own family from time to time.
I remember the first time I participated in harvesting one of our own animals. It really wasn’t something I wanted to be a part of, but I knew that if I was going to be in this business, it was crucial that I know and understand the entire process. And although it was difficult to be a part of, I’m so glad I did it….and I’m so glad we continue to do it, and that we can do it as a family.
Here’s how harvesting our own meat has affected me:
- The respect, dignity, and peacefulness of their death is instant and calm. No stress, no fear. Not even an understanding that within a blink of an eye, it will be their last. Not even nature can assure every animal such a peaceful, harmonious death.
- The process of taking a life has greatly impacted the life I offer to our livestock. The seriousness of taking a life in order to nourish my family is not lost on me. And the health and nutrition that my family gains as a result, in return, drives me all the more to provide the best life possible for our livestock. I appreciate, respect, and care for the animals all the more
- Harvesting our own meat has taught my children invaluable lessons. Here is what they have learned in the process :
- The value of life and how to honor it
- A life altering skill of being able to provide for ones self
- Respect & humility
- The true meaning of life and death
- How when we work together as a family, we get to enjoy the fruits of our labor together as a family
4. Harvesting our own beef gets us one step closer to self-sufficiency. As our nation has struggled to meet the demands of consumers over the past two years, NOTHING is more reassuring than having the peace and confidence that you have the means and the skills to continue to provide food, not only for our family, but for our community as well.
5. Quality and Taste are incomparable. The quality, freshness, and taste of meats raised responsibly and ethically is par to none. Food should give you life! But an animal can not provide you with the necessary nutrients if the animal itself isn’t being raised in a way that provides them with the necessary nutrition. You are what you eat! And the nutrition your meat provides you greatly depends on how it was raised and the life it was given.
Harvesting animals does not get any easier for me as time moves on. In fact, if anything, it gets harder. I care greatly for our animals. And, yes, I get attached to these animals. Harvest day is sad and rewarding. It strains me emotionally, while at the same time, makes me burst with pride. I struggle with saying good-bye all while bursting with pride for how the animal has and will be cared for. It’s difficult and it’s a blessing.
Have you been a part of harvesting your own meats? You don’t need to own your own livestock. There are plenty of farmers and ranchers willing to share their knowledge and skills with people eager to learn. Reach out to your local farmer and or rancher to get connected!