The End, The Beginning

☆ July 25, 2012

This morning I stood in a meat locker surrounded by my hanging sides of beef. Talk about intimacy. I have wanted to write about the last days, and have, for myself ~ but haven’t published any of it here because I have learned that sometimes, while emotions and thoughts might seem crystal clear to me, I don’t always express them clearly enough for The Internet and this topic is too potent and too dear to risk misunderstanding. But it’s time to try.

Two weeks before my little herd was slated for processing, Mike and I trailered them from their huge spring pasture to a lush smaller pasture just a quarter mile from home where it would be easier to sort them off when the time came. Over the course of their lives, I have trailed them half the time and trailered them half the time ~ from the beginning, I knew their last day would entail a trailer ride to the processor and I didn’t want that to be a new and stressful experience for them. Trailering them to various grazing land is always a long, hard day for Mike and me, because it takes so many trips, but it’s quick and easy for the animals, and they walk right into the trailer in small groups and think nothing of it. This means so much to me.

When the time came, we took them to the processor in small batches over the course of a week. I chose the processor I did because they are incredibly good at what they do and they care deeply about their work ~ and the animals. It’s just two women and three men, small and personal, and stereotypes do not fit here ~ they are patient and gentle. On the first morning, one of the men looked right into my eyes and said, “I can see these animals are loved,” and that comment reaffirmed my confidence that I was leaving them in the right hands (I did not stay for the slaughter).

That day, I cried several times but it was not for the reason most people assumed, that my animals were being killed. I see it more as a transition than death ~ they were transitioning to beef, to food for people who need it and will respect it and deeply appreciate it, just as I do when I eat meat. No, I cried because of the sheer intensity of being this closely involved in the process. The reality of the process. Stores make it so easy to disconnect from the process ~ whether it’s a grocery store or a clothing store or whatever store ~ because in that context, we ARE disconnected. But the process is potent. It demands acknowledgement and responsibility. It leaves no doubt that waste is disrespectful.

It soothed my soul to know that in addition to the meat, every organ and bone of every beef was spoken for. That every lower leg with the hoof, usually thrown away, was going to someone’s dog. To know that even an ear and an eyeball were going to fuel a child’s imagination (one customer emailed me to say her daughter was in the midst of the Harry Potter books and had asked for an ear and an eyeball with which to make spells). The transition of my herd was not in vain.

When I began this venture two and half years ago, everyone in town who knew about it thought it would fail. Even Mike. Mike and certain friends were wholly supportive, but skeptical nonetheless. I’m so grateful to all of you who have allowed me, over the past several years, to get to know you ~ for even though I don’t know what any of you look like, I knew that our vision and values aligned. I knew, deep down, that this was not a great risk or outrageous fantasy, but simply a step in the right direction that we are taking together.

On a lighter note ~ the beef looks fantastic. The processors were amazed by the sheer size of each beef and by the quality of the meat. It is perfectly marbled ~ the holy grail of beef ~ yet lean overall, without the thick, heavy layer of outer fat that they usually have to trim off with conventional grain-fed beef. I’m really pleased, and think that everyone who ordered will be, too.

Comments

100 Responses to “The End, The Beginning”

  1. hello haha narf
    July 25th, 2012 @ 12:12 pm

    thank you for including us on your experiences. my life is better as a result of all you share.

    becky

  2. Tib
    July 25th, 2012 @ 12:16 pm

    So looking forward to when I can CONNECT to this process and you are able to have Eastern Seaboard shipments.

  3. Dogmom
    July 25th, 2012 @ 12:24 pm

    You post made me cry sitting here at my desk at work. Even though I wasn’t able to order any beef this year, I plan to next time it’s offered (San Diego) and I will treat it with the love and respect that you show here. You have made a difference in my life, Shreve, in little and big ways. Thank you so much.

  4. Maggie
    July 25th, 2012 @ 12:39 pm

    Thank you for sharing that. I know I will appreciate the beef so much more knowing its story. xoxo

  5. pam
    July 25th, 2012 @ 12:42 pm

    You related your experience so beautifully and I could feel the love & peace you felt in each word. I have watched Gordon Ramsay follow his animals from his raising them in his yard to the slaughter house and then to his own restaurant kitchen and can feel your deep passion , as his, that these animals lived fantastic lives that they wouldn’t have experienced anywhere else and now you are providing others with such incomparable meats that makes this is a love story. I know it is now ME who is not expressing the words correctly but I know that you and your readers will know how happy I am that YOU are so happy and proud of yourself and your hard work. *IF the beef ever gets to the Chicago area, I definitely want it!

  6. Karen
    July 25th, 2012 @ 12:48 pm

    Shreve, thank you for continuing on with your vision… it was the right thing to do, for all involved. Congratulations on this huge success in your life.

  7. bonnie
    July 25th, 2012 @ 12:49 pm

    i cried. it’s always hard to end a good life, even if it was begun with the intention of it being short. thank you shreve for having the fortitude to follow thru on your ideals, and thanks to everyone who has made this endeavour a success.

  8. marianne
    July 25th, 2012 @ 12:52 pm

    What a great start to an admirable enterprise. Im looking forward to its expansion!

  9. Nathalie
    July 25th, 2012 @ 12:52 pm

    You did a good thing and I cried reading this but not because of the death as you stated, but because of the caring you showed to the animals during the entire process. It’s not often humanity surprises me in a good way and you have.

  10. Meg A.
    July 25th, 2012 @ 12:53 pm

    Thanks for sharing the story. I’m glad things are working out for your vision/dreams and that everything is being used!

  11. Renee
    July 25th, 2012 @ 1:08 pm

    I am horrible with words, sitting here wanting to let you know how much I am moved by your post…by the level of understanding you have achieved throughout this process, and then your willingness to share it with us.

  12. Suzanne
    July 25th, 2012 @ 1:16 pm

    I too got choked up reading this post, and not really sure what caused the flow of tears. Most likely your deep and tender care of the animals throughout their life. And isn’t that what we all want – to be respected and valued for the time we have on this earth?

    I was disappointed that you were not able to come to TX, but discovered that there are grass-fed and grass finished ranches in the Austin area that share your same values about raising animals this way. We are still trying to connect with them to place our order, but it will happen soon.

  13. Twwly
    July 25th, 2012 @ 1:22 pm

    I just took my pigs to slaughter on Monday. It doesn’t get any easier for me, as they years go. I do wish badly that we could process them on farm, instead of having to transport. I know in some states and in the EU there are vans that will drive to your farm and do on site processing, and take anything away that needs to be hung or smoked.

    We do pasture based meats (chicken, turkey, duck, lamb, goat, pig) and I feel like we are doing things as ethically as possible, that the meat I eat and provide for friends, family and customers is easily amongst the best available. But when slaughter day comes, there are so many details (for every animal) that I wish could be different.

    Unless I own my own abattoir, those details unfortunately are not changing.

    My pigs go easily from field to trailer. To everyone’s amazement, everyone who usually prods their animals through chutes of course. They trust me. I lead them on.

    At first once the door closes, you can tell they’re thinking “neat! what can we play with”. But after a bit, their eyes change.

    Those last looks from them (and I am sure I am not imagining it – I am not the type) are different.

    Every year, that moves me.

  14. Lisa K.
    July 25th, 2012 @ 1:30 pm

    Congratulations on following your dream!

  15. Mary Laiuppa
    July 25th, 2012 @ 1:31 pm

    I cried when I read this.

    I want to say I am honored to be one of those to receive your beef. I feel it is a privilege.

    And while I haven’t prayed over my food in years, I will be saying a little prayer every time my meal includes your beef. I will say a prayer of thanks to the cow whose life will give me life and I will say a prayer to you and Mike for the love, care and hard work you’ve done to make that cow’s life as wonderful as a cow’s life can be for the time it had on this earth.

    Thank you for all you’ve done, you’re doing and what you will do in the future.

  16. BethK
    July 25th, 2012 @ 1:36 pm

    Congratulations, and thank you for sharing the story behind your beef. I think people need to hear these stories to know there are alternatives to grain-fed, grocery-store beef. I hope you plan on doing this again soon.

  17. Kristan
    July 25th, 2012 @ 1:45 pm

    Ditto what Renee said. <3

  18. Patr
    July 25th, 2012 @ 1:55 pm

    Hugs and thank you for sharing your experience. Crying for any transition – after long labors of love, and yes LOVE, is so natural.

    BTW: Do you miss your mountain retreat of last summer? Are you going to spend any time there this summer? I know you have been so busy with this project that you probably need some recharging. Maybe a weekend get away?

  19. Margi
    July 25th, 2012 @ 2:13 pm

    Thank you for your raw honesty. Between this post and Twwly’s response, I’m crying at my desk. It’s all so very amazing.

  20. Jerry Johnson
    July 25th, 2012 @ 2:39 pm

    Shreve, this is the very reason that I love having connected with you. Everything you do is done with love and purpose and respect for all around you. Only from you would I expect such a tremendous labor of love for your animals, knowing what the final outcome would be. I loved that statement made by the processing team too…that they could tell the animals were loved. You are and always will be someone I would love to emulate. Thank you for being you.

  21. Pat
    July 25th, 2012 @ 2:53 pm

    I am so very glad that there are people in the world like you ! Thank you for the post.

  22. LeFiffre
    July 25th, 2012 @ 3:04 pm

    Respect.

  23. Sara
    July 25th, 2012 @ 3:19 pm

    As a vegetarian, I do not agree with you. However, with that said, I very much appreciate and believe your love for the animals. I follow all your posts, including those about your own pets because I think it is very sincere and you communicate it beautifully. Yet, I could not ever ever bring an animal I loved to its end, nor could I eat it. But I do not begrudge the people who do.

  24. Frosty
    July 25th, 2012 @ 3:43 pm

    hugs

  25. SDC
    July 25th, 2012 @ 3:45 pm

    I’ve felt the same way you do about meat for a long time and thank you for trusting us enough to tell us about it. It reminds me of an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations. He was in Malaysia I think with some of the native people there. Part of the tradition (they caught a pig for a feast if memory serves) was that the guest be the one to kill the animal. He did, and then describes his feelings as partly wanting to curl up and cry, but also reminding us that those pork chops we enjoy aren’t picked off trees and reflects that it will feed many and therefore had an honourable ending. As he said that, the pig was accidentally dropped into the water. It was kind of jarring, but funny, like nature letting him know the time for mourning was over, the animal is done for, time to eat!

  26. Rachael
    July 25th, 2012 @ 3:50 pm

    I look forward to the day when I can purchase your beef. I sincerely wish the whole of the meat industry were as caring and mindful as you are. We would live in a better world and be so much more appreciative of life.

  27. sybil ann
    July 25th, 2012 @ 3:57 pm

    Bless you for sharing. I am so proud for you.

  28. Andrea
    July 25th, 2012 @ 3:58 pm

    You are one amazing individual. You have integrity, compassion, and an inner strength that I can only aspire to.

    I was dismayed that only West Coasters could purchase your beef, although I completely understand. I am so in for next year!

  29. Hemma
    July 25th, 2012 @ 4:10 pm

    I’m another one who became teary while reading your post, Shreve. My tears were partly for your heartfelt story but also for the joy I felt when you mentioned that even Mike did not trust the process, yet you did and your supporters came through and made it a huge success and all of us East Coasters are eagerly awaiting next year. Maybe others in your community can join you and make it a bigger venture and raise their cows more humanely to the end. You are a bright star and I for one admire you greatly!

  30. Marg
    July 25th, 2012 @ 5:15 pm

    Sara, no animosity, but my daughter is a Buddhist and vegetarian who worked on an organic farm where they raised animals for food as well as veggies. I asked her how she was going to handle parting with the animals who would follow her around with love in their eyes and she admitted that she had to do some deep thinking and meditation over it. Her response was similar to Shreve’s attitude in that the animals purpose was to provide for humans or in nature, for other animals but HER purpose and show of gratitude for this gift of life was to make that life a peaceful, loved one. No one who reads these blogs is going to accuse Shreve of being deficient in that! Sniff.

  31. Marg
    July 25th, 2012 @ 5:17 pm

    PS I’m still wondering if all those zucchinis made Daisy’s milk green or taste different? Had to put something light in here. Hugs to everyone on here.

  32. shreve
    July 25th, 2012 @ 5:37 pm

    M ~ :) I don’t know! She’s going to calve in the next week or two, and I don’t get any milk till the baby gets here.

    ~ thanks everyone ~

  33. Marg
    July 25th, 2012 @ 5:50 pm

    Ahhhh Soooo, this is one of those pregnancy cravings. You go for it Daisy!!

  34. Brandi
    July 25th, 2012 @ 6:17 pm

    Good on ya, woman. Congratulations, and continued success.

  35. kay
    July 25th, 2012 @ 6:42 pm

    It’s so life affirming to be part of your story Shreve, and part of it with everyone else too. Your post made me cry too, but in a mostly good way. I don’t know if I could do what you did, but I’m so glad you are out there doing it. I wasn’t able to buy beef from you this year, but you’re on my radar for next year, and I send out messages of gratitude and love to whatever I eat for whatever it went through to end up nourishing my body.

  36. Evan
    July 25th, 2012 @ 7:12 pm

    sometimes words fail so…wow.

  37. Claire
    July 25th, 2012 @ 7:46 pm

    I loved all your posts on this business venture. This is something I’m not sure I could do but find the whole process fascinating. Those processing the beef sound like wonderful people. I had distant relatives that had farms and couldn’t be around them when they “talked shop.” You’ve done a good thing Shreve. I look forward to getting my order. AND CONGRATS on this success. You’ve done good. Nov I must find the tissue box.

  38. wright1
    July 25th, 2012 @ 8:59 pm

    Well-felt, observed and written. Thank you for sharing this.

  39. Colleen G
    July 25th, 2012 @ 9:01 pm

    This is a very well written post and makes everyone stop and think about their food choices. Good job and my respect meter for you just went up ever higher. xo

  40. rikku
    July 25th, 2012 @ 9:56 pm

    You’re a true wonder Shreve. Your every post inspires me. <3

  41. J.C.
    July 25th, 2012 @ 10:00 pm

    Um…wow. WOW. Last night I was at happy hour and asked the bartender about his commute to work. He drives 1.5 hours one way. I asked WTF…he replied that he lives on LAND. He lives on a farm and is raising FOOD…in the REAL sense. I am blessed in that I choose (and pay dearly) to live in San Francisco so I have access to some of the best this country produces. That being said, I will “pray” over each and every time that I cook, serve and consume my small portion of your 2012 production. Goddess bless you, Shreve!

  42. Mark Silvey
    July 25th, 2012 @ 10:03 pm

    I cannot think of what I could add to what has already been said. Aside from the responsibility you took on with Charlie and then the rest of your companions as they were added to the farmily, the way you embrace your responsibilities to these four-legged friends in refreshing and inspirational. Don’t just talk about it, you live it.

    Thanks much and take of yourself, Mike and the farmily.

  43. Mikey
    July 25th, 2012 @ 11:01 pm

    I’m glad to read this post. This is how it should be. Personally, I like grass fed beef, not grain finished. There is a definite difference in taste, to me.
    We trade for a weaned calf every so often and raise our own beef. A lot of our friends do too. I’m always very pleased that I know where my dinner has been (btw I name them all Dinner) and that it has no antibiotics or “additives”, it was raised happily, never wanted for anything and had a good life.
    I have what I believe is the best processor, a man who comes out to the house, shoots them with one painless shot, so they never even know it’s coming. He dresses them out here, hangs the meat for 2 weeks and then delivers it back for a very reasonable price.
    It’s amazing the difference between that beef and what you buy in the store. Less grease, better roasts. I wish everyone was able to raise their own beef. Love what you’re doing, it’s a good thing.

  44. Scotty
    July 25th, 2012 @ 11:27 pm

    In Navajo tradition the animals such as elk and deer that are harvested are said to choose the hunter/harvester, and to honor that person with the giving of themselves. Much thought and prayer is guided into this idea of the taker and the taken so that it bestows honor onto both in the relationship. I align myself with that view that the star brand cattle have honored S~ with their trust and good health largely because of the love and respect she has for them. It is more than a little overwhelming that these animals have returned to us the largest honor that a being can give, their life. In seeing these posts I am quite sure that these thoughts of respect for our environment and other living things and thankful prayer will take place in the homes where star brand beef is going.

  45. Kacie
    July 26th, 2012 @ 1:41 am

    I cried when I read this, because it’s so beautiful. You inspired me, when you got Daisy, to begin my own endever with cows. I can’t thank you enough.

  46. CJ
    July 26th, 2012 @ 6:19 am

    I too cried when I read this…you truely have a love for animals. I have been following your adventures with Charlie since the beginning. This has been a lovely journey and I’m so glad that you are letting us share it with you.

  47. Sarah
    July 26th, 2012 @ 7:17 am

    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences, Shreve – this post is no different. Your use of the word disconnect interests me greatly. I was just discussing this with my neighbor in regards to food and meat :) – I was recounting a conversation I had with a chef who works at a prestigious restaurant in my area (DC) and how the restaurant was forced to remove the outdoor rabbit runs because patrons did not want to “see” what they were about to eat – talk about a disconnect!

    But, our discussion also led to the choices we as people make to disconnect from things that make us uncomfortable – as people age they are often put in “homes,” the poor are confined to “their neighborhoods” (yes, I know they could leave, but often transportation to other parts of the city is expensive or inconvenient), etc.
    Anyway – for me, your post was quite timely, honest (as always) and has given me more to think about :) – as always – ha ha. I have to say, even though talking about this stuff can quickly get depressing – seeing such compassionate commenters really gives me hope.

  48. gizmobinx
    July 26th, 2012 @ 7:39 am

    I too amongst everyone here am sitting here crying. Not because of the process but because they are all loved. hugs to all

  49. Robin
    July 26th, 2012 @ 8:03 am

    I read your story and cried also, I think for the same reasons you described. My daughter and I are part of a CSA and the little farm it comes from is about 60 miles from here, we live in Las Vegas. We had the opportunity to help process chickens. It was humbling and an experience I will never forget.
    I get my beef from a company who raised them in Smoky Valley, north of here, in the middle of Nevada. They are no longer in business, so next year I hope to get my beef from you. You are an amazing lady Shreve and my Daily Coyote is always a spiritual way to start my day.
    Thanks you, from Robin’s acre

  50. Debra
    July 26th, 2012 @ 8:14 am

    Thanks for this post. I cried when I read it, but I am so happy for you and your endeavor. I read your every post from my reader, but rarely comment. I hope to buy your well-loved beef someday and will always be in the market for hooves and other dog chews.

  51. Kay
    July 26th, 2012 @ 8:58 am

    As a meat-eater and animal lover, I so appreciate the love and respect you give to these animals. You have literally given me food for thought. I wish all of our meat could be processed the way you have chosen for your cattle. You truly are an inspiration in so many ways. Thank you.

  52. Laura
    July 26th, 2012 @ 9:04 am

    Thank you.

  53. siobhanmcc
    July 26th, 2012 @ 9:22 am

    Thank you Shreve.

  54. Farmer Lady
    July 26th, 2012 @ 10:24 am

    Thank you for posting how you care for your beef, and how it is being processed. You are so correct in that most folks are totally disconnected to where their food comes from, especially meat.
    You show that you can humanely raise animals for the food supply, and love and care for them too, the entire journey. I love it.
    If I raised beef, I would want to do it the way you are.
    I’ll stick to my turkeys, muscovies and pigs for now. They are raised in the way you describe, except they are harvested here on farm. They are loved every day, and they are respected. I try to provide the most natural living I can, and they seem happy. It’s hard work, but the difference between homegrown food and store-bought food is SO HUGE!
    For the folks who can’t get Shreve’s beef this year, I would urge you to explore your area, and see if you can find someone who raises natural grass-fed beef close to you. Talk to the people, ask them about their beef and how it is raised. Is it finished in a feed lot with grain? You don’t want that. You want entirely grass fed and respected, like Shreve’s beef.
    With your blog, you open up folks minds to different ideas, and I think it’s so wonderful. You Go Girl!

  55. Priscilla
    July 26th, 2012 @ 10:34 am

    I also cried at my desk. Funny how I feel so proud of you and I don’t really know you. I think you are wonderful. XOX

  56. Marie
    July 26th, 2012 @ 11:33 am

    This post brings to mind a Wendell Berry poem called, I think, “Grace” (as in grace before meals), which ends with, “May I be worthy of my meat.” Meat raised as responsibly as this demands a complementary attitude on the part of those who eat it. Shreve, I don’t think I could think of a thing I’d do to better the way you raise your cattle. Even the slaughtering sounds humane. Impressive.

  57. Rose
    July 26th, 2012 @ 11:42 am

    Thank you for sharing with us, Shreve. We are looking forward to your beef. I couldn’t do what you do, though.

  58. Pat D.
    July 26th, 2012 @ 12:07 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story and thoughts on this experience and transition. It was a great piece of writing. We need more Love in this world, for all creatures, great and small, and we need to recognize our connection to them.
    Thank you for what you do to provide it.
    Peace.

  59. Lindsay
    July 26th, 2012 @ 12:35 pm

    Wow, how moving. Words fail me but I too feel how you do. And I’m glad that you provided them with love and tender care because I do believe that makes a difference.
    Keep dreaming, dreams do, as you know, come true.
    xo

  60. Stacy
    July 26th, 2012 @ 12:47 pm

    Thank you Shreve for sharing your thoughts. I also had tears when I read your post. We are so looking forward to our beloved beef. I really like the fact the cattle was handled so lovingly, from calf to delivery as beef to us. Congratulations on this venture.

  61. Dina
    July 26th, 2012 @ 12:47 pm

    This post literally gave me chills. So beautiful.
    Thank you!

  62. Mary Laiuppa
    July 26th, 2012 @ 1:02 pm

    Wendell Berry

    Prayer After Eating

    I have taken in the light
    that quickened eye and leaf.
    May my brain be bright with praise
    of what I eat, in the brief blaze
    of motion and of thought.
    May I be worthy of my meat.

  63. Mary Laiuppa
    July 26th, 2012 @ 1:05 pm

    Thank you, Marie, for giving me enough info to track down the poem.

  64. Katie
    July 26th, 2012 @ 2:32 pm

    I ordered your beef this year specifically because I knew the care and attention that you would give to this endeavor. While I enjoy the luxury of being disconnected from the process, I recognize that there is an inherent responsibility in each of us to know where our food comes from. Not to say that we should participate in the actual slaughter of the animals we use for food (more power to those who do!), only that we should make food choices that support our own beliefs. In my perfect world, everyone gives their animals the love and care that you have given to yours. I recognize that this is not the case, which is why I chose to purchase from you and not from a traditional grocer. Although it tests my comfort level – to know the story behind the beef I will receive in two weeks time, this is precisely why I decided to support this venture. Through your blog, you let me participate in the process. People like you, Shreve, deserve this support so that you can continue to make the short lives of your animals so special. I hope that the naysayers understand the merit of achievements and see the value of alternative methods. Even if you can change a few minds of your neighbors or those who read your blog and influence people to adopt your more humane procedures, it’s a win! I wish you luck and continue to give you support from Colorado!

    Thanks for sharing!

  65. Jo Davis
    July 26th, 2012 @ 3:37 pm

    thanks for sharing and always explaining in your oh so special way… so happy that the beef turned out so wonderfully and we look forward to buyin’ some next year as we are in the east too!!! :) jo

  66. @ernstdoubt
    July 26th, 2012 @ 4:07 pm

    i grew up on a farm raising beef cattle — very touching story; love it

  67. Bethany
    July 26th, 2012 @ 5:00 pm

    Sitting here with tears in my eyes. Last week I had to load at a ‘processed foods plant’ or that is what I was told. It actually was a kill plant for chickens (Pilgrims Pride of Texas). I sat there for over 8 hours watching poor, poor birds being hauled into the kill area with temperatures over 100 degrees. It was heartbreaking to see their heads hung low, or see no life in them at all as they went by, figuring they had expired on the trip over. It was awful and I sat there crying feeling so helpless. The worst part though, was watching chickens fall out of the trailers onto the highway, and be run over or kicked to the side by employees as if they were a crumpled up piece of garbage. If anyone eats meat that is store bought, this is what you are eating. We live in a cruel society and I will never load there again- and that event set in stone that I will never eat a chicken that was not raised locally and humanely, and that goes for all meat. The only bright light I had while there was to think of how your animals had a happy & healthy life. Thank you for doing what you have done, and allowing me to be a part of it. I hope a lot of people learn from what you are doing, and someday I hope to load & deliver more animals that have been treated with kindness and respect rather than the industry standard.

  68. Deanna
    July 26th, 2012 @ 5:22 pm

    I had wondered just how you dealt with this aspect, Shreve. I totally expected you to feel deeply about it and, as usual, we are all so blessed with your sharing.
    I was impressed with Ted Kerasote (Merle’s Door) when he paused to thank the elk he brought down as a year’s worth of meat. You are certainly a kindred spirit to that sentiment and I applaud you for it.

  69. shreve
    July 26th, 2012 @ 7:47 pm

    Everyone ~
    Thank you so much for sharing your words here ~ it has been really meaningful and profound to read all these comments and thoughts and feelings… Thank you!

  70. MJo
    July 26th, 2012 @ 8:02 pm

    Thank you for your beautiful and honest post. Like others I was moved to tears. . . I realized it removed some of the disconnect for this city girl. I feel blessed and honored to be one of the recipients of Star Brand Beef.

  71. Samanda
    July 27th, 2012 @ 12:07 am

    We used to buy beefalo from a lady – no longer in business, alas! – who raised her beasts & slaughtered them in a similar way. I’m a ‘druid’; can’t digest vegetabe matter, so meat is important to me. To have animals which are raised w/love is *so* important! (still remember Carol telling of us of a beast that licked her before his death, “he was so cute – hope you enjoy his meat!” she said cheerfully – & he *was* good!).

    I mis her & i miss the wonderful taste of animals raised by those who know where their meat is going…

  72. Barbara R
    July 27th, 2012 @ 9:36 am

    Though I’m many years your senior, if you I have found a teacher. And in your readers, I have found my tribe. Blessings upon all.

  73. LJ
    July 27th, 2012 @ 10:30 am

    Shreve,
    Thank you for sharing such personal thoughts, emotions, and your perspective. And most of all, thank you for trusting us enough to take this great venture and allowing us all to share in the beauty of it.
    I sincerely hope you do feel the love and support we all have for what you do, who you are, and what you stand for.
    Creating a more aware, respectful, and healthy life for everyone – animal & human alike!
    Best always & Thank you again.
    -LJ

  74. Linda D.
    July 27th, 2012 @ 12:10 pm

    For years I had never thought of what an animal goes through at the time of butchering. Then, I heard a story on NPR about Dr. Temple Grandin and how I looked at meat changed. When I went to the grocery store, I would look at a package of beef, chicken, pork, or any other type of meat, and wonder to myself if it had a “happy” death or a traumatized death. I found myself staying away from meat because of this. When I would tell people this, they would look at me like I was from another planet, even when I would try to explain what I meant. I am glad to hear how considerate and caring you were about the manner in which your beef was handled at the end. Thank you for your story.

  75. Jenny C
    July 27th, 2012 @ 4:45 pm

    Every word of this meant the world to me, and you told it exceptionally well. I teared up, and I’m a bit sick to my stomach with the emotion of it, but I’m so glad you shared the experience with us. I’m only a faithful follower of you and your beloved farmily, but I’m proud of you all the same. Good for you, Shreve, good for you.

  76. Laura Oliver
    July 27th, 2012 @ 6:44 pm

    I am not a big meat eater but I wish every animal could be treated so well. Pigs are smarter than dogs – for some reason I can’t eat pigs. I could never raise something from a baby then kill it. I am way too sensitive. My daughter is like me so when she went to work for an animal shelter I did not think she would last long. She had to kill dogs, cats even puppies and kittens every morning. She said she was gentle and gave them hugs when the needle went in. I could never do that.

  77. montanapup
    July 27th, 2012 @ 10:28 pm

    Very moving and touched. Big hug and lots of love.

  78. CathyA
    July 28th, 2012 @ 7:25 am

    Thank you Shreve for being a powerful teacher.
    And I hope all will bow their heads in gratitude for whatever goes into their mouths. It is perhaps those animals that were raised in conventional ways that need our gratitude the most.

    Wendell Berry poem was right on the money.

  79. JoDi
    July 28th, 2012 @ 12:07 pm

    Powerfully expressed. Thank you so much for being the change you wish to see in the world and not believing those who said you would fail. I wouldn’t bet against you for anything!

    I couldn’t order your beef this year, but I was inspired to find someone on the East Coast selling grass finished beef to tide me over until next year! XO

  80. carmel
    July 28th, 2012 @ 8:36 pm

    Pam, I’m with you…another Chicago potential customer…Shreve…well done !! just returned from Ireland and tasted grass fed beef while there…no comparison…!!!

  81. Jeanny
    July 28th, 2012 @ 8:50 pm

    Shreve,
    A lot of people say this to you, and it is so true.
    You have changed my way of thinking about life and love and pain and what everything is about.
    You are an inspiration to me everyday. I love Charlie and the whole farmily.
    Thank you for sharing with all of us, who cannot have the same experiences you have, but feel as if we are.
    Love,
    Jeanny

  82. Coyote
    July 28th, 2012 @ 11:55 pm

    Not a lot of people have the perspective, and the depth of understanding you have.

    I don’t see any disconnect between your love and respect for these animals, and that they become food.

    It may be intense, even painful, but so are many of the experiences of being a living creature.

    In the end, we all feed something or someone else, whether in mind, body or spirit.

    I’m glad that the animals in your care get to know love, respect, and appreciation. They deserve our love, respect and appreciation, especially when they feed us.

  83. Martha
    July 29th, 2012 @ 1:21 pm

    Thank you so much Shreve for letting us be a part of your life and the process.

  84. Marissa
    July 30th, 2012 @ 4:39 pm

    Thanks for caring about your animals, all of them, and for sharing your resources with others. I hope to place an order next time it comes to the West Coast.

  85. Domenico
    July 31st, 2012 @ 12:09 pm

    Being a teen I consume a ton of burgers, but that may change. I cannot shake the feeling I have from reading this post. Lots to ponder.

  86. MK Ray
    July 31st, 2012 @ 6:57 pm

    Bravo for writing a piece that does make people think about their food choices. Even though your care shines brightly in your writing, as a non-meat eater I am still relieved I don’t partake. The deliberate death of another living, vibrant and sentient creature is a giant burden I’m really glad, joyfully and peacefully, not to have to bear.

  87. Gabrielle
    July 31st, 2012 @ 9:09 pm

    Just curious… did you get any negative comments and delete them, or does every person who read this applaud you? I don’t recall seeing any negative comments since you began your beef selling venture.

  88. Lesley
    August 1st, 2012 @ 8:45 am

    Thank you for caring, because that is what it is. There is so little care in our regimented, thoughtless, consumer-driven world. And food is mass consumption, too. It is gratifying to know there are people whose “killing work” involves caring deeply. Understanding, caring, respect. It is a lot to get one’s head around isn’t it? We tend to assume killing is merciless but it doesn’t have to be. When my time comes, and it will come for all of us, I hope my death is merciful and as painless as possible.

    All that said, I have to say I chuckled and am slightly creeped out by the mother and little girl ordering an eyeball for Harry Potter spells. That seems needlessly indulgent. But whatever floats their boat, I suppose.

  89. Lesley
    August 1st, 2012 @ 8:50 am

    Domenico, I encourage you to read Fast Food Nation and Diet for America. Fast food burgers and all major grocery chain meat products and Shreve’s world are light years apart.

  90. Kelsey
    August 1st, 2012 @ 3:16 pm

    This is beautifully written. I am a vegetarian, but work in the food animal industry and can relate to your post.

  91. shreve
    August 1st, 2012 @ 6:58 pm

    Hey all ~ I haven’t had time to check in here in several days ~ thanks again for all your words and thoughts.

    G ~ I haven’t had any negative comments on this post. There are a number of dissenting options on my other Star Brand Beef / Why I’m not vegetarian posts ~ I don’t delete them.

  92. Katie
    August 2nd, 2012 @ 7:29 pm

    I have been following this with a lot of interest, and I just want to thank you for all these really thoughtful posts about what you’re doing. I would have been involved myself, except that our current finances don’t allow it.

    Your blog is one of the most interesting I read; I check it, essentially, every day to see both what you’ve written about and what your other readers have to say.

  93. aLISON
    August 5th, 2012 @ 6:57 pm

    Really, the slaughterer (NOT processer, that’s ridiculous) can tell how much your cattle are loved, as you’re sending them to their death? Give me a break. We DO NOT NEED more killers in this world, especially for the already over-abundant food in this country. Glad you found a way to make a dollar but this goes against every thing your site (and you) used to be about. I am sad and disgusted. What’s next? Will you raise Coyotes for their pelts?

  94. Todd M.
    August 6th, 2012 @ 7:01 pm

    I was born and raised in country where the local economies were devastated by commercial farming. For generations my family existed side-by-side with the type of balance between love and cruelty, seemingly generosity then evil — that you have written of.

    My wife and I eat meat, none “store-bought” in the traditional sense. My reasons are practical — I like family farmers giving the middle finger to today’s world — but I struggle with if my 10 month old son needs to be given life energy from these animals? Do I? I don’t know the answer to that. But my typical reaction when I read something like this is that killing living sentient beings is wrong, period.

    I know many may not share my conclusion, and I offer no judgment on that — but I do suppose making us think for ourselves is the best thing we can do from reading your words.

  95. Jenny C
    August 6th, 2012 @ 7:11 pm

    Wow… just wow. Did you actually write that awful post, aLISON: “What’s next? Will you raise Coyotes for their pelts?” It takes a special sort of evil to say such a disgusting, abhorrent thing. Your venomous words were so far off the mark and so utterly misguided, I am breathless with disbelief. You cannot have actively followed this uniquely wonderful blog; your ignorance is glaringly obvious. You clearly do NOT know Shreve, her philosophies, mission, character, integrity and how she lives her life.

    It takes so little to be positive and affirming; you have to WORK at being so foul. I am guessing that I speak for many when I say that we welcome your immediate departure from this site. Good-bye, aLISON.

  96. aLISON
    August 7th, 2012 @ 6:46 pm

    @JennyC, yes I did write that. I, too, have been reading this site for years and years. That is one of the reasons I am so shocked and dissapointed. As I said, there is plenty of food wasted in this country, no need to add to it. And by the way, I have a right to my voice, just as you do. I know that my last sentence was harsh but I needed to prove my point. Was it literal? No, of course not. Apparently you missed that. Next time you’re so offended, back up your points without emotional babble. You’ll get much farther that way.

  97. Tracy Timmins
    August 8th, 2012 @ 7:52 am

    I love your blog and photos, I appreciate that you helped them feel comfortable on the way to their death. But I have a few questions: Why didn’t you stay for the slaughter? Surely you owed that to them. They couldn’t turn away if they wanted to, even if it was painful and frightening. Why didn’t Sir Baby and Daisy go with the herd to the slaughterhouse? Why are they so different from the others?

  98. Jody Cox
    August 8th, 2012 @ 9:27 am

    This is very well written. Thanks so much for sharing.

  99. shreve
    August 8th, 2012 @ 10:28 am

    I’ve not kept up on comments because I’ve been so busy “offline,” but I want to defend Allison’s comments ~ her opinions are valid. And she’s not alone in them. There are people who feel Star Brand Beef is hugely contrary to the version of me they felt they knew based on my sites, my book, etc. And it’s fair for Allison and others like her to feel angry or upset by this. It’s not going to change what I’m doing, because I’m doing what I believe in ~ and I’d probably keep doing it even if I suddenly became a vegetarian, as long as there were meat eaters out there ~ that’s how much I believe in this alternative to the commercial beef industry. But Allison has the right to be dismayed by it.

  100. Andrea
    August 10th, 2012 @ 2:48 am

    I only just came back here after a couple of months absence and I’m kind of sad.
    I used to eat meat, everybody in Bavaria does. Pork in all variations, veal, you name it even is part of our culture. Hundreds of chickens, pigs and bulls are consumed during the Oktoberfest.
    Then I saw “We feed the world” and I couldn’t eat meat anymore. And then I started again because I chose not to think, I took the red pill and everything was fine or so I thought.
    But actually, it wasn’t. I couldn’t keep myself from crying when a truck packed with pigs passed me one sunny afternoon. Their eyes still haunt me at night. I simply couldn’t eat a steak knowing how the industry works. How we kill people just for our pleasure. We don’t need meat. We have such a variety of vegan alternatives, it’s a shame we still kill cows and their babies, pigs, turkeys, horses, fish just because we think we are better than them.

    We really should be ashamed of ourselves, we harm ourselves, our planet and wonderful creatures. And yes, I agree. You should have stayed for the slaughtering. You should have looked them in the eye as they realised they were going to die(because they do), as they started to get scared, to get restless and as the bolt smashed their brains and their eyes broke.

    I understand your reasons but I think you are wrong. You used to make a difference, you showed people how cows feel about their babies, how they interact with you etc. I loved and still love that a lot. :( I’m just sad about the poor souls that used to be indivduals with a life are now nothing more than “beef”.

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