Tuesday, December 22, 2009

One more strike against Ohio

Ever since I moved to Ohio and my husband and I started talking about our farm in the "This is Really Real!" sense, we have discussed what kind of livestock we will have on our property.

I have made it abundantly clear that I am only interested in having horses (plus our indoor pets, of course). But I have made it clear in no uncertain terms that I do not want any other typical barnyard animals: no chickens, no goats, no pigs, no cows, no ducks. Nor yet any of the less-typical barnyard animals: no llamas, no alpacas, no ostriches, no buffaloes. Buffoli?

Dan, on the other hand, has made it abundantly clear in no uncertain terms that he does want other farm animals.

My argument of No Other Species has numerous points of interest, the most noteworthy I have outlined below:

Number 1: Building a stable and stocking it with horses is my dream. I am going to be the one out there every day, cleaning, feeding, mucking, schlepping. I am not such a doofus as to think that the "Your pet, your responsibility" policy is going to work out without a single kink (regarding Dan's horse or horses). If the animal is in my barn, I'm going to be the one taking care of it. I'm not going to skip over Dan's animal and let it go hungry because he's busy when I'm feeding everyone else.

Number 2: Why? Why do we need any other animal species on our farm? We already have (or plan to have) canine, feline, equine, uh . . . fish-ine? Those are enough -ine's for me. Seriously, we're already going to be overloaded with what we have planned.

Number 3: Doesn't anyone care about the fact that I do not know how to care for most of the other barnyard animals? Typical or not-as-typical, ordinary or exotic, the only farm animals I've ever cared for have been horses. I highly doubt that a cow is vastly different in terms of needs (you put in some kind of grassy-roughage--and it's not too hard to figure out which type of hay/grain to feed--and then you clean up what comes out. Dur!). But what about the llamas that my mother-in-law is interested in.

That's just the first part!

To add insult to injury, Dan (completely oblivious to the argument) has requested a steer named "Dinner" and a pig named "Breakfast."

As an animal-lover I was sickened, as an anthropomorphist I was horrified, and as a human being I was disgusted by the the mere thought of "Dinner" and "Breakfast." We have had more than one philosophical discussion about this subject, and I have yet to see any humor or merit to the idea.

Until now.

While the idea of "Breakfast" and "Dinner" as pet names is absolutely abhorrent to me, I have decided to turn a blind eye to having a we-will-eventually-eat-it-steer on our property.

Trust me, that was hard enough.

The reason I am willing to allow this as a compromise (I refuse to acknowledge any animal named after a mealtime) came as a bit of a shock to me. But, as a grown-up, I reserve the right to change my mind.

"Stubborn and ardent clinging to one's opinion is the best proof of stupidity." -Michel de Montaigne

Right? Right.
Therefore, I've changed my mind. To clarify: I am not a vegetarian or a vegan or an anything. I'm just plain ol' picky. I have no aversion to eating meat, but I do have a big problem with seeing it alive beforehand.

It gives me the heebie-jeebies, to be honest.

But, again due to my pickiness, I came across a snag in refusing to allow a cow-we-plan-to-eat on our property that I did not anticipate. You ready?

I can tell the difference between Ohio beef and Oregonian beef.


Yes, I can. It is pretty extreme (even in my extremist point of view). (Intentional misuse of the following word:) It's gamey.*

*I have no clue what "gamey" actually tastes like. I have never eaten anything remotely resembling "game." I've never had venison, buffalo, elk . . . none of it. But Ohio beef tastes like what I imagine "gamey" is because it tastes tough and veiny and something-else-ier. What can I say? It tastes gamier than Oregon beef.

I resisted coming to this conclusion, let me assure you. At first I thought it was because when I first moved here we immediately were due to purchase "half a cow." It was a local cow butchered by a local butcher, and the first time we had spaghetti and I saw gristle floating around in the sauce, I almost threw up.

I thought it was because we didn't buy it from the store.

I tried to be a big girl, but after barely being able to gag down the meal I realized I couldn't pretend for the rest of my life, and finally confessed to my husband that the next time we buy a half a cow, I didn't want them to get any ground beef. I begged him to purchase all our ground beef from the store.

He grudgingly agreed, and the first time we used the store-bought ground beef I almost cried. Am I really this picky? How could that be? Meat is meat, a cow is a cow is a cow. Grow up!

But I couldn't. It was the same. Gristly. Tough. Gamey.

Dan, of course, thought it was hilarious. I did not. "Why, oh why! Why is it like this? What is wrong with the meat in Ohio?" I lamented.

And finally--finally!--it came out. Grain-fed versus grass-fed.

At least it was an answer. Dan assured me that there is a difference, and several folks that I have reluctantly shared this story with have all agreed. Grain-fed versus grass-fed can make all the difference in the world. And that, at last, is why I'm reluctantly and wishy-washily coming around to the fact that having our own steer would have some grass-fed advantages.

Yup, I'm willing to "go there" as long as one non-negotiable condition is met: it is only ever referred to as "the cow we plan to eat."

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