My job really rocks. If I haven’t made it abundantly clear by this point, let me just tell you that every single day I get up and get to go to work is like a gift from the God of Awesome Jobs. Getting to break down high quality carcasses, meet awesome customers, be in movies – it’s all pretty much a dream come true. But without a doubt, the best part of my job is getting to go on farm visits.
A butcher’s job is essentially to function as an intermediary between their customers and the farmers who produce the meat. When I fabricate a cut for sale in the shop – a sirloin roast for instance – I’m really just putting the finishing touches on a piece of meat that took a very long time in getting to me. I have possession of that particular roast for no more than a week (unless it’s getting aged), while the animal itself lived for 18 months or more on pasture.
A butcher lives and dies not just on his skill cutting meat, but on the quality of that meat when they receive it. I don’t get to go down to the slaughterhouse and browse through hundreds of hanging carcasses to get exactly the one I want. Once I’ve ordered an animal it’s sent, processed, and delivered before I ever get a chance to lay eyes on it. To that end, finding the best possible farm partners is essential to ensuring a high-quality and consistent product. As much I would love to, I don’t get to be out in the field every day monitoring the health of each individual pig, or selecting the perfect sized steer to send to slaughter – that’s not my area of expertise anyway. The trick really is finding the best possible farmer and letting them do what they do best
Getting out to visit our farmers is not only a great way to maintain that all-important relationship, it’s also a great chance to really see the way our animals are being raised and better understand just how that effects the finished product. It also functions as a way to really cultivate a sick sunburn. The fact that these guys do what they do 24/7 in pretty much every weather condition imaginable is really amazing. I get a climate controlled state of the art butcher shop, they get searing heat and freezing cold – this being the Northeast sometimes they get both in the same day.
Somehow managing to pick the hottest weekend of the year, we ventured out this weekend to meet with our farmers and check out how this summer has been treating them. It’s amazing just how verdant a place can look after a good bit of rain and some abundant sunshine – it’s pretty much just eye-wateringly bright green as far as the eye can see.
It should be noted that most (all?) of these pictures came from the extremely awesome Rettland Farm. Beau is out there growing what is, in my opinion, some of the best heritage breed pork available anywhere. If you find yourself in the neighborhood look him up – or come buy some from me. He was also instrumental in a certain side project we have going on.