Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Meat Day

So, in any state other than Montana, Meat Day could be many things. Maybe it’s the one day a week you allow yourself red meat. Maybe it’s the day you go down to the local farmer’s market to pick up some corn-fed, all-organic, hormone-free chicken. Maybe it’s the local all-male review that only comes through the last Sunday of every month (not that I’d know anything about that…). But here, in Montana, Meat Day is something totally different.

Yesterday marked my very first Spiker Meat Day. Every year Wes and Chris Spiker buy livestock from the local 4H kids. These kids have spent an entire year hand feeding these animals to make them fat, happy, beautiful and ready for slaughter. This is a horrifying concept to me considering that one summer at the Condon County Fair, I fell in love with a 4H goat, named it Slobber, fed it Tootsie Pops for a few weeks (okay, I shared them with him…) and then forced my parents to buy him so no one would kill him and eat him (lots of tears. Begging and pleading were involved). Oddly, I have no recollection of what happened to Slobber…

Years later, while living with my oldest friend Jeff in his Peace Corps village in Morocco, I gained a new appreciation for the raising and eventual slaughter of animals. I mean, if we didn’t kill that chicken I would have had to go on eating cous cous and sugary, sludgey coffee every day. But my love of goats stayed strong. There were little baby goats running around everywhere and I named my favorite ones Ice Man and Maverick. I made Jeff promise not to tell me what happened to them after I left…

But back to Meat Day. Montanans love their meat and I’m really used to it now. Go hunt and shoot innocent animals. I don’t care. BUT I don’t want to see the dead, bloody deer hanging out of the back of your truck. Take it to the butcher and bring it to me in nice, white paper packages. This year, the Spikers bought two pigs. Pictures of those pigs have been hanging on the company bulletin board for two weeks now. Happy little kids holding on to their lovely, prize winning swine:

Yesterday, those pigs were delivered to Spiker in the form of pork sausage, baked ham, pork chops, bacon, pork shoulder and more. It’s like a national holiday. People bring bags, boxes and coolers and are literally waiting with shining eyes at the door at 4:30pm. In typical Lizzie fashion, I forgot it was Meat Day but someone was nice enough to give me a bag. At 4:30pm exactly, we were let loose on dozens of boxes full of meat.

Now, I’m not much of a pork eater, but who am I to say no to free food? Especially award-winning pork?? I managed to get about 12 pork chops, one ham, some pork sausage and a few packages of bacon. Most of this is for Paige and Justin, but I’m sure I’ll get to it some time.
I’m currently researching delicious pork chop recipes. One more reason for you all to visit Montana: I now have a freezer full of delicious pork meat. Woo hoo for Meat Day!


Brittany said...

Our meat day is totally similar! I, too, remember the heartache of going to the fair, falling in love with black and white cows,and wishing my dad would out bid the guy licking his lips and rubbing his belly, so I could take my pet cow home. Now, on meat day, i just show up with a cooler, keep my eyes down, and leave.

I still want a pet cow though.

Anonymous said...

Good way to supplement the food budget. Way to go Lizzie.

John said...

Meat Day takes me back. You have always had an affininty for animals, and a city-kid naivete about where the food came from. Gloria used to hatch chicks for Easter (in a frying pan no less). Lizzie bonded with her chicken (whose name a cannot remember). It slept with her; rode on her shoulder; hung out in her room; and never messed on her or in her room. That was one amazing chicken. However, love of chickens was second to her love of Chicken McNuggets: total absence of connection. Fortunately, thanks to the Omnivore's Dilemma (by M. Pollan), we know that Chicken McNuggets have little connection to chicken. All turns out well in the end.

Really no logical connection here, but this reminded me of our evening walks when you were little: you would grab worms partially on the sidewalk, but still in the soil (rain makes them do this, and I have no idea why), and yell: "You're under arrest!" Charming, but I recall that it was always a catch and release operation.

Jyoders19 said...

You should've seen my 4H projects. Had a champion steer once. But mostly I just raised pumpkins. We had cattle growing up. And, yes, it sucked knowing you were eating Stuffy the Steer, but damn if he wasn't tasty.

Bonus: sometimes if it was cold enough back in Pa. my Dad would forego the packing plant and just have a side of beef hanging in the garage.