It’s What’s For Dinner

by Stefani on 9-September-2007

So last week, the boys and I were driving through a little bitty Texas town named Crockett, after Davy, who is reported to have camped there on his way to the Alamo. I will spare you the photos of us, next to a log cabin, in our coonskin caps, us walking the town square in our coonskin caps, and us, whacking the crud out of each other with our coonskin caps.

I’m sure it means something that my Mom was at the Alamo about the same time we were in Crockett, but I can’t imagine what.

Anyhow, there we were, slowing down to avoid the small town sherrif that no doubt lurks in the bushes waiting for speedsters, when we saw this sign:

Sign

Does that say… why yes it does… it says, “TUESDAY! TODAY is Tuesday!” In case we needed further evidence that there were big goings on at the cattle barn, the usually deserted parking lot looked like this:

Trailers

You know what emptry trailers mean, right? FULL PENS! Well I simply cannot pass up the opportunity to see something that we’ve never seen before, so we pulled over and had ourselves a look see.

The cows looked back.

Littles

So did the cowboys. I didn’t take their pictures though. We might as well have been purple polka dotted parrots for all the bewildered stares that we got. I guess minivan moms and their flip flop wearin’ brood don’t often show up for the Tuesday sales.

Well, it was about this time that we noticed some stairs a the side of the barn, and asked if we might go up and have a look.

The man said, “Don’t know why not.”

Alrighty then.

Up we went, and found ourselves at the start of a long catwalk that stretched across the entirety of the barn. Imagine half a football field, divided into pens which were packed full with cattle, stretch a rickety board plank bridge across the whole thing, and you’ve got a pretty clear idea of what we were faced with.

The sound was deafening. We hung on for dear life, and I tried to think only of the educational value of the experience, and not the fact that one sorry little rail was all that stood between my boys and glory hallelujah, if you know what I mean. I took loads of pictures of the cowboys prodding the cows and bulls through the pens and into the viewing area, but they all turned out really dark. I was too scared that I’d cause a stampede if I used the flash. This is one of the few that came out moderately well.

Cowpens

In case you are wondering, this is not a feedlot, it’s an auction site. These cows are being sold between ranchers. At least I think so.

It was really very interesting to see the whole process of moving them in and out. Not to mention the incredible bovine variety. We were even treated to a few of these:

Longhorns

Of course this left us thinking long and hard about our lunch choices at the town’s cafe. I mean on the one hand, it’s kind of tough to look into those faces and contribute to their demise. On the other, it’s tough to look at the faces of the cowboys and townspeople, their weathered skin and worn fingers and go meatless. Cattle ranching is their lifeblood.

I was thinking about all this, as we waited for the Town Cafe’s one and only waitress to bring our drinks and take our orders. Kind of a heady question, “What’ll it be?”

My guys did a lot of thinking too.

Mostly, they thought about how quickly the cook could make their burgers. Apparently livestock sales leave them famished. After my middle boy finished his lunch, he declared, “they sure do grow good cows here!”

I have to admit, they do.

A little while down the road we caught sight of this girl:

Dsccowbirdjpg_2

She was doing a lot of thinking too. Something like, “Dear God, make me a bird, so I can fly far, far, far away.”

erin September 9, 2007 at 5:58 pm

i am sure that it was a sight your guys will not soon forget! i’d actually like to see that myself.

mountain mama September 9, 2007 at 6:03 pm

Oh dear.. that last photo and last line is going to make it awfully hard for me to eat my hamburger tomorrow. I’ve tried to go without meat, but I just don’t like plain old spaghetti and sauce. What’s chicken soup without the chicken? BLT sandwiches.. yum! So this is the compromise we make: when we can afford it, we buy our meat from a local organic farm where all the animals are free to roam and have no hormones and chemicals shot into them. Makes me feel better about the quality of their lives and the flavor of the meat just doesnt compare! They cost about 20% more than the stores charge and when we go, we buy enough meat to last a month at a time. They aren’t mass butchered and are selected purposely.

We have a cattle auction house nearby and I never thought to take the girls there for a peek. I think I’ll do that one day!

shula September 9, 2007 at 7:00 pm

That last cow was my favourite.

I want to be her in my next life.

kristin September 9, 2007 at 7:12 pm

i would have done this…talk about not missing an opportunity…my husband grew up on a feedlot…the farm trucks still boast bumperstickers: i (club) chickens…

Jade September 9, 2007 at 7:29 pm

great reflection in that last line. i love it! i, too, have always wondered what it would be like to stop and see what all is going on when you see the animal auctions. maybe next time we will. flip flops and all!

Tara September 9, 2007 at 8:05 pm

Hey, I’ve been to Crockett…my first boyfriend’s family had property there. Pretty area.

Sarah Jackson September 9, 2007 at 8:58 pm

That’s a lotta cows. We drive by the stockyards on our way to San Francisco and it always makes me sad. Then we see the happy cows running around in Gilroy and we perk up a little. We try to do the same as mountain mama – buying from organic co-ops so the animals that become our meal only had that one bad day, and we stay connected to how food lands on our table.

Leigh-Ann September 10, 2007 at 2:01 am

you’re the CUTEST mama there is! and your last sentence…. i fell in love with you more 😉

Jody September 10, 2007 at 4:33 am

Oh my, you guys do the coolest stuff! What a knack you have for noticing and immersing yourself and your kids in the details. Love the cows!

Diane September 10, 2007 at 5:07 am

Oh, the cotton and now the cows… you’re making me think we need a trip to East Texas straightaway!

Sarah September 10, 2007 at 7:19 am

This is awesome.

It reminds me of when I took my students on a field trip to the Strawberry Festival in Plant City, FL. They have all sorts of agricultural things there, including those 4H cow contests. Those cows were mean! LOL

Eren September 10, 2007 at 11:54 am

He, he…we’ve been to the sale barns with my dad…although he buys and sells the equine type. It is interesting and amazing, and sad all in one. What a great post pointing out both sides of the barns.

And strangely it makes me miss home so much…aaaahhh, Texas. There is no place in the world like it.

estea September 10, 2007 at 12:36 pm

yes, yes it is. *feels a memory coming on*

i used to ride with my dad to St. Joe, MO to take a trailer of cattle to be sold and then turned into delicious beef steaks and such. we left at 4:30 in the morning and ate peanuts on the way. it was awesome! but then, I’m an incorrigible carnivore 😉

Molly September 10, 2007 at 12:44 pm

Makes me rethink the hamburger I ate last night. Here in California, we have happy cows and delicious cheese.

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