Several hours ago Keith loaded 5 large SNOW raised hogs (not much pasture out there to speak of) into our livestock trailer and escorted them down Drury Lane to Chenoa Locker. There, they will walk the Green Mile. In the am after doing 2-3 hours of chores which include milking our dairy herd and feeding/watering all the other animals, we pick up the five amigos in a slightly altered state. They are loaded into the back of our Ford Transit Wagon, one half carcass at a time. Heads are kept from rolling down the street by wrapping them in plastic bags and tucking them in and around the carcasses for safe keeping. We venture north towards the land of Good Eats and Great Chefs.
On the way we run into a lot of this:
And when we get home after 5-6 hrs of driving time and another 2 hours of delivery time we are exhausted but not yet finished Chores have to be done again, invoices reconciled and messages answered. Later we wonder if all this work is really worth all the trouble. I mean really, is it so important that food is raised in a honest, sustainable way and available locally instead of obtained from a megafarm 1500 miles away ? Does it matter that we strive everyday to keep chemicals and pesticides from invading our herds thus allowing the meat to taste like...well...meat ? Does anyone really care that our animals are outside and able to enjoy fresh air 365 days a year ?
It is usually at one of those low points that I am blessed with something special, like an email from a chef who took a few moments to tell us thank you. One of "our" chefs, Carlos Ysaguirre of Anteprima and Acre Restaurants in Chicago wrote this:
"Excellent! Look forward to seeing you! Believe you me, this is the quietest time of the year for restaurants. We will enjoy curing and hanging guanciale, lardo and sausages, brining the hams, making fresh sausages, stuffing trotters....it's best we are not that busy. I think the best part of my job is showing my staff how to appreciate the animals. I explain the thought, care and passion that goes into raising the hogs; how the hogs demand respect because it was once living and now it helps to feed people and help the restaurant; the utilization of the whole animal is our responsibility and obligation. My boys are really engaged and thrilled to be a part of such a responsibility. Thank you very much for the opportunity! Have a great day! "
So, OK. I guess tomorrow we'll do it all over again.
For a great meal see Carlos at http://acrerestaurant.com/