Finding where it all begins is always difficult for me. My dad was a butcher. When I was a kid, he processed deer on the side, and, in the fall, we’d always have carcasses hanging around the house. Between that and the occasional trips to the processing facility where he worked at (which was located where This Old Farm is now), it was natural for me to pick up the trade. My dad was the first to teach me the skills necessary to learn the art of butchery, and those first lessons have stuck with me for almost twenty years, making me appreciate this and other jobs for what they were: a skilled craft.
It’s those first lessons that have had the most impact on me. My dad taught me that you can see every cut you need to make on the carcass itself; all you had to do was follow the lines. As I grew within the trade, I always strove to take the next step; if I knew how to cut a steak, then I needed to know where that steak came from. If I could break a beef, I needed to learn how to seam out individual muscles. Knowledge, to me, has always been the essence of craft, and the craft is the most important part of what I do.
Over the years, I’ve been told that being a butcher was a good trade to have. I would be in demand and never without a job. Unfortunately, I saw the harsh reality of being a butcher today while working for a large retail chain: we were just clerks. Firsthand, I got to see the trade die. More hours were cut than meat at my last job. As the “old-timers” left, so too did the interest in the craft. When I accepted the job offer from This Old Farm, I saw an opportunity to be involved first-hand in making the art of butchery relevant again. Here, we do things the old-fashioned way: whole-animal butchery, processed one at a time, and a constant attention to detail. What I see in this business is an appreciation of the craft and all of the baggage associated with it.