Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Puddle of Blood at the Base of a Tree

Photo: Ana V. Francés, Flickr Creative Commons

My wife asked me an unexpected question earlier this week. Apparently there's a hog show somewhere in town this weekend and she wants to go. This is the woman who'd never lived anywhere more rural than the suburbs of Pittsburgh until she married me, the woman who was shocked, amazed, at the fact that it was dark at night the first time she came down here to meet my parents. She is not a Southerner and she very much isn't a country girl. I'm the guy who looks up heritage breeds of livestock when he's bored and thinks about how nice it would be to fence in that giant section to the side of our house and start up a herd of goats and hair sheep to keep me from having to mow the goddamn yard. She won't even feed the dog, much less the chickens.

Despite all that, she adapts quickly, it seems. I think she is very much more comfortable living here than I am, and I grew up here. If it weren't for the fact that social life is so very tightly interwoven into family and church here and I have a small family and no church, I think she'd be genuinely happy to finish out her days here. Me, I get bored easily and have tastes that don't match my income.

Getting back to the pigs, part of the reason she wants wants to go is that she wants to see what Little Gandhi thinks about getting hogs. Future Farmers of America and showing livestock are big here. Our head cheerleaders often spend their weekends in Western wear while whacking a scrubbed and coiffed hog with a cane. Honor graduates, kids who'll never come back home to live after high school because they'll have a college degree, they all do it. Little Gandhi's a little young, though. The hog would probably eat him. They do that sometimes, eat people, I mean.

The other part of the reason is that my wife also wants to put one in the freezer. The steer we split with my parents a couple of years ago went over incredibly well. The meat was about as good as it gets and the few cuts we have remaining are still well worth eating. I would love to get to play around with some cuts of pork that we just can't get in the store and it would save us from having to pay for meat for a while.

This may sound strange for many of you, but it isn't strange for me. I've butchered chickens from my own pens. I've field dressed a deer I dropped instantly with a single shot (when I was 15). I'm used to thinking of my food having a face. I'm actually quite civilized, but I'm perfectly comfortable with the mud under the white linen tablecloth. It's just a little weird that my wife, who basically just ate chicken fingers when we first started dating, would be so comfortable with it now to go pick out her barbecue while it's still on the hoof being lead around a ring by a proud tween who raised it from the day it was weened.

Good on her.


Sid said...

You occupy such a strange environ. The closest I've ever come to "hunting" my own food, was obtaining limpets for crayfish traps.

Mickey said...

Yep, quite the lady you snagged there.

I love the idea of having a freezer's worth of animal except it means you need a freezer, and a big one at that.

And if you guys get goats, Courtney will probably move in with you.

Jacob said...

Sid: We just caught crayfish with nets in the swamp behind our ponds growing up, but then I'm thinking you may be using the word to talk about what we call lobsters into the the little freshwater miniature lobsters we call crayfish in the US. We didn't eat them, though. We either used them as fish bait or set them free again. I think a couple ended up in a fishtank.

Mickey: That's what curing is for. You've got the room to hang a couple of salt-cured hams and set up a charcuterie station in your apartment. No refrigeration needed. And does Courtney really like goats? They're basically vegetarian dogs with hooves.

Courtney said...

It's true. I LOVE goats. They are my friends. However, I gotta say I'm not on board with hanging meat from the ceiling in my apartment.

Jacob said...

That's bourgeois bullshit. You're such an elitist.

Julie said...

My uncle has two goats. You can come visit them in Acworth anytime.

My sister the vegan is better with people eating meat when they understand it comes from animals. She gets frustrated when kids think that ground beef comes from golden arches. I understand the concept, but I really don't like to get dirty.

Are you sure the wife didn't just want the funnel cakes that often come with hog shows? Funnel cakes are tasty.