Last week Wednesday I had the opportunity to tour a group of 4H kids through our operation. This Old Farm is uniquely positioned to be able to go over the entire livestock food process entirely in house. Whereas the typical animal will pass through up to seven different businesses (a breeding and birthing lot, a feed lot, a slaughter house, a processing house, a ready to eat kitchen, a wholesaler, and a retailer) before you take it home to your kitchen, This Old Farm has brought all these functions under a single business to some extent.
We began at the farm operation where we currently raise for sale only Katahdin lambs. We discussed topics ranging from pasture-based operations and the importance of record keeping to the role of agriculture in erosion and the expanding hypoxia zones in the Gulf of Mexico. Having seen how the livestock can be raised, we moved down the road to our processing facility to discuss how a live animal is broken down into the familiar cuts of meat. We started in the slaughter floor where they saw a live beef come in, and the tasks required to break it down into two halves to put into the hanging cooler to age. In the hanging cooler, we discussed the importance of aging meat, and how various diets impact the appearance of the meat. We watched the processing room breaking down a half into the familiar steaks and roasts, and stopped by the value added kitchen to check out the smokehouse and the staff in the process of making lard. We ended in our front retail space, where the final product is on display.
With the exception of a single young girl who got nervous and buried her face in her chuckling father’s arms, the slaughter floor was the unanimous favorite part of the tour. Often there is concern about how kids will react to the slaughter process, but in our experience kids handle it well and find it incredibly engaging. It presents us with the opportunity to discuss the sensitive topic of humane handling and respect for livestock at the stage where many would argue it matters most.
Educational outreach is very important to us at This Old Farm. We really enjoy showing people around, and passing off the knowledge we’ve gained during our years in business. If you’re interested in arranging a group tour, give us a call at 765-324-2161!