Merry Christmas!

Readers: when I wrote this post, Sparks and I joked about its potential for causing controversy. Well, it turns out that it has sparked some. I’ve stated my position in the comments, if you’re interested in reading them.

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope yours is merry and bright. We are working on preparing Christmas dinner, here, and configuring our new Wi-Fi Kindles (woohoo!). Sparks gave me my “big” Christmas present yesterday, though.


Meet Stewie. Isn’t he sweet? He’s a Brown Swiss steer, and we’re buying a half of a half of him when he’s butchered in January. Because we’re not buying a quarter, we don’t have to pick hind end or front end–we just get half of everything on one side of him, snout to tail.

Stewie was bottle-fed as a calf by Sparks’ boss’s son. He spent the summer in a grass pasture and is now comfy in a barnyard and stable with three other steer, being fattened up on corn and hay. He’s never had antibiotics or steroids. He’ll be processed and hung for two weeks, the way beef ought to be. We’re so excited and pleased to be having this adventure in local, extensively-farmed, properly processed meat. Hooray! It’s all of our crunchy-granola, River-Cottage dreams come true.


And since a half of a half of Stewie wasn’t gonna fit in the freezer side of our french-door fridge, we also have a brand-new, 16-cubic-foot freezer to put him in. And also gooseberries, blackberries, black raspberries, rhubarb, peaches, applesauce, pear sauce, salsa, tomato puree, hot peppers, and all the other goodness we hope comes out of our garden. Hooray!


11 thoughts on “Merry Christmas!

  1. Merry Christmas.

    Maybe you should buy the other half of Stewie for your husband. Stewie would look nice in your garden instead in the freezer.

    All the best from germany,


  2. Long-time reader, first time commenter. I’ve loved your blog for years but have to say I was shocked by this post, on Christmas no less. I dreamt about poor Stewie last night and woke up having to say something. I’m a vegetarian and animal lover but even my carnivorous houseguest read your post and thought it was twisted. Please don’t let them kill poor Stewie!

  3. Thank you for taking the time to comment, Cigi. I’m sorry that my blog post upset you. Sparks and I are fans of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and ascribe to his meat philosophy, which is basically this: if you start by assuming that someone is going to be a meat eater, then the most ethical course of action they can take is to eat the meat of animals who have lived the happiest lives, and had the easiest deaths, possible. We are so excited about this quarter-share of a steer because unlike the animals who provide the nameless, faceless meat we have been eating, this cow has been spoiled rotten and enjoyed every moment of his life. He will not be subjected to the indignities of intensive farming or feed lot fattening, and his death will be swift and painless. Isn’t that preferable to the alternative? Also, again assuming that someone is going to eat meat, it seems far more honest to confront the fact that an animal is giving its life for that meat, and having met that animal before slaughter, to feel grateful for its sacrifice every time one sits down to the table. So, there is my rebuttal for your carnivorous houseguest.

    As for vegetarianism, it’s unfortunately true that hundreds or thousands of animals die every time an acre of ground is commercially farmed, and not all of them are insects. There are many reasons to go veg, but preventing animal suffering is unfortunately not one that comes through the wash.

  4. Thank you for your thoughtful response to my comment. I’m glad to know we agree regarding the cruelty and indignities of factory farming. As for the rest, I respectfully agree to disagree. Looking forward to reading about your further adventures, especially with your little one on the way. Congratulations and Happy New Year.

  5. No controversy here – I am jealous of your half a steer!

    We’ve been contemplating a chest freezer for months now. Maybe the tax rebate will go toward one. Can’t bring myself to get an upright, though – although easier to get into, they are such energy hogs!

  6. What a Christmas! My husband has just looked over and said, “YUMMY.” Nothing better than ethically raised, well-bred meat instead of that mass produced junk from the store. And a huge freezer to store it in! Bonus! When I was a girl, my family raised cows and butchered them for our family’s meat (and also a few close friends). We kept two huge chest freezers to store the meat and our frozen veg and fruits from our garden. I look forward to the day when I have the space and means to do the same thing, and I’m happy that you guys have already gotten there! Merry Christmas!

  7. Hee hee, there is obviously no limit to a pregnant woman’s desire to store food… if there’s still room in February, I’m going to fill it up with casseroles, and not cook for all of March and April…

  8. Sparks researched energy usage and decided that buying a freezer that doesn’t auto-defrost, and keeping it stuffed full, will offput the operation cost enough to make it worth it to us. We both grew up with big chest freezers that harbored things in their bottoms for years and years. I guess we’re optimistically assuming that things won’t hide in the back of this freezer quite as effectively…

  9. I totally understand the pregnancy / food storage issue…my pantry looks like a well-stocked bomb shelter. I think we could feed ourselves for a couple months without leaving the house. I haven’t even started on the freezables yet, since I’ve got so much time. Oy.

  10. I enjoy reading your blog daily just to see what is your latest developments. I have gotten compliments from the cookie recipes you posted at my office christmas party to a happy kid enjoying some of your dinner choices. This christmas I asked for a dvd series called Homestead Blessings by the west family. These dvds are available on the website Franklin Springs media.Mom and three daughters show you how to do various things from cooking to quilting as they learned in their region of the USA. Since we are both River cottage fans I thought perhaps you might want to hit the website and see if any of the videos are to your liking. The website has video clips of each video for perusal.

    thanks again for having a great blog to read !

  11. Pingback: Summer food « Snapdragons

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