a chat with a butcher

today was another one of those days that i would have never thought i’d have living in houston.

it started with farm chores at the barry farm early so we could load up the 3 red wattle pigs that needed to make a trip to the butcher. geoffrey and i talked on the way there the best way to load them. we decided we really did need another person. thankfully a call to his dad yielded us the help we needed. you never know when you a need dad 🙂

of course, by the time we arrived to the butcher it was their lunch hour! they close and all leave for the hour…so, we drove around a bit to keep the pigs cool. we love going there. the butcher is an interesting old man and you never know what we will talk about. this was the most we visited with him. we talked about how many pigs, their breed, customer names, how the meat was to be cut… the normal things you would expect to talk about with your butcher.

he was VERY surprised when i, “a young lady”, “aren’t you a city girl?”, asked for some of the lard! he had questions… he said i might be the first person to ask for it in years!

“what did i think i was going to do with it?”
“do i KNOW what to do with it?”
do i know someone to ask?”
“how old is your mom?” … “oh, she’s too young!”
“do you still have grandparents alive to ask?”

i wanted to say, “mr. fischer, have you met google?” 🙂 but i didn’t. i assured him i would do research and ask around. he is old school and i didn’t just want to blurt it out. (i left that one of his employees later on in the conversation.)

i told him i was confident i could figure out how to get it done. he couldn’t tell me just how much lard they could get me. i was sensing he would just give me a little bit. but, i was sure to let him know that if they got 15, 20ish pounds it wouldn’t scare me…so, bring it on! we’ll see how much we get… we had a conversation with old black man, who was an employee, that remembered seeing it done and he reminded mr. fischer how they needed to prepare it for me. i am getting excited! i told mr. fischer i would bring him some biscuits made with red wattle lard. but, he requested an apple pie. crust made with lard.

we also talked about life. we talked about kids. farming. raising kids while running a family business. kids being raised with responsibilty. kids being raised by their parents and grandparents. kids who think meat comes from the grocery store. (oh, and he remembered someone telling him to put a potato in while rendering lard to keep it nice and white!) we talked about being a dairy farmer’s daughter. we talked about how is wife was a beautician by trade. years ago he couldn’t keep up with his 2nd slaughter house and asked his wife to manage it. yes, his wife who was a beautician that had her own shop! she of course she replied she didn’t know how to run a slaughter house. he told her there was a phone there and she could call him with questions:) i missed visiting with her today. she is a sweet lady.

this was the longest we had talked with mr. fischer. it was a lovely visit to his slaughter house. i think he thought we were nuts when we told him that we took our pigs off corn and soy and onto a NON GMO feed! he’s been around for a very long time doing what he does. they smoke in-house and don’t use nitrates and came highly recommended by farming mentors! until geoffrey can cut up pigs himself (which he’d love to do), we’ll go visit mr. fischer.

i am looking forward to our next visit and to see how much lard they saved for me! until then, i have some research do.

just another crazy day in this crazy, beautiful life i live with the love of my life!






a blog about meat that turned into a walk down memory lane

we have a ton of meat in this house! ok, not a ton but over 500 pounds…

i’m starting to get excited about it! you see…we don’t eat much meat around here. if we don’t know where the meat came from (and ‘from the grocery store’ doesn’t count!)…or as geoffrey describes it…if i can’t drive to the farm and see how and where the animal raised and talk to the farmer, then we don’t buy it! we have bought small amounts of local grass fed beef over the past year and i mean a small amounts! it’s expensive and you can’t just pick it up at the grocery store when you are there. so, we’ve been flexitarians the past few years…only eating meat on occasion.

now, i have over 100 pounds of beef in the freezer, like 400-500 pounds of rose veal, and 120ish pounds of heritage breed gourment pork! oh, and a turkey and one last lonely whole chicken! i have shepherd’s pie in the works right now for supper…its been years since i made it and i’m looking forward to it. i had pulled out two package of the ground rose veal and that’s what i am using. rose veal is from a calf who was still nursing on it mother but also ate from grass/hay. not your traditional milk veal from a little baby calf who didn’t see the light of day and was kept in a little pen. this rose veal is from bigger calves, months old who still were spoiled by having access to their momma’s milk while enjoying grass/hay in the pasture they roamed! now, that’s the life.

we, the barry farm, purchased two cow/calf pairs from a friend who just couldn’t afford to raise them anymore. we sent them off to the butcher and the beef went to 8 different families and the veal is sitting in our freezer waiting to be bought. if you are local and you want some contact me!

our four red wattle pigs we raised since the spring, went to the butcher shortly after the beef. they were split up between 10 families! geoffrey and i are so honored to raise animals that can feed so many. All the meat was ready for pick up at the same time too! Yikes! But, after delivering ALL the meat on monday we are happy to know that we can coordinate delivering about 2,000 lbs of meat across the greater houston area and have it all arrive still frozen! What a day it was… Still tired.

this is how it was growing up….the freezer was always full of meat! when it got low we had a family meeting about which cow looked the best and should be sent to the butcher! ultimately, my dad had the say. it had to be a cow that wasn’t producing to her full potential. we had a dairy farm so, she had to be plump and beefy but not cranking out the milk like she used to selling the milk is what paid the bills!

i remember raising pork and chickens at times but we always had beef in the cellar freezer! it feels like home…freezers full of good quality meat ready to make into delicious meals for my family. our kids are going to wonder what is up! like geoffrey and i, they haven’t eat much meat in the past few years. we all eat the same. we do go out for burgers occasionally but its at burger guys, a place that gets their beef from farm in west texas i believe. and not just any beef…gourmet beef! its delicious!

as i was preparing the shepherd’s pie today my mind was flooded with memories of growing up. when i was telling geoffrey last night i was going to make shepherd’s pie with the ground rose veal i pulled from the freezer he started describing how he remembered shepherd’s pie. but, he doesn’t remember my mom’s way. i made it just like my mom today! doesn’t it feel good to say that? pretty sure my grandmother (mama) made it the same way. how often do we say things like that? probably not as often as we should. i want to teach layla how to make shepherd’s pie like my grandmother and mom and also tell her how grammy (geoffrey’s mom) makes it. it may be different and i might prefer one way over another and have my own opinions about the healthiest way to prepare it but i don’t want to forget how mom, mama and grammy each made it!

so, today meat has gotten me feeling rather nostalgic! (listen to me…) i lead such a crazy life these days but an amazing one. a life changing one. i would have never thought in a million years that this is what my life would have looked like! my days are full of suburban living, urban farming, stay-at-home-momming… i knew i wanted to be stay-at-home-mom and i am very grateful to be able to living that dream and to be married to amazing man who helps make that possible. i did not know, however, that i would want to “farm” again…(my mom is laughing…)

when my crazy husband kept talking about wanting to farm…in houston…i mostly listened. He kept asking me all kind of questions seeing i was the one who actually had farming experience. There is one thing i’ve learned being with geoffrey for 8 years… He won’t give up on a dream. He’ll find a way. He’ll take risks. Learn from whatever mistakes might happen. He’s not afraid of failing so, this farming thing i knew was going to happen and there was no stopping him!

Now, that we have been on this farming journey for a year its amazing to look back and take account of all we have done! All the real food we provided. We are doing it folks! We are providing real, good, healthy food for our family and many others. This is what my parents, grandparents & great grandparents and great great grandparents did. Life has taken me (and my family) on its own journey but today i feel like i’m back to the way life was growing up! Back to my roots but with our own little twist. I thought i wanted to break away from that…i thought finding geoffrey & moving here to houston 5 years ago would be the break away that i wanted but…boy was i wrong. that break is so over.

Today tell your family, your kids or a good friend about something you remember about your ancestors. The gramma that crocheted you a blanket…the loved ones that moved their family to america for a better life…the grandfather who worked fields with horses or mules…the garden you remember your mother growing as a kid…your family that all lived within 15 minutes of each other…sunday dinners around the table…sleepovers with grandparents, or cousins or favorite aunts…the 14th generation dairy farmer your dad was (speaking of my father). Thats what i’m going to tell my kids as we eat the shepherd’s pie that is now out of the oven!

UPDATE – kids LOVED the shepherd’s pie although they wonder why its not shaped like a pie but called one. seamus made the comment that shepherd’s probably ate it! (luv him!!)

so, i was explaining what 14 generations means…i explained to the kids like this – papa was a dairy farmer, and my grandfather (papa’s dad) was a diary farmer and 12 more grandpas were dairy farmers before that! layla says to me…”so that makes us 15th generation farmers, right?” luv.her. 🙂


another trip to the zoo

on sunday we went to the houston zoo to get a members only peek at the new african forest. it was such a perfect day. not too hot. not too cold.

we were so excited to see the new african forest. they giraffes got moved there and they got in a family of chimps and 3 white rhinos!! so exciting.

here are the pictures from our adventure!