Your facility is impressive, but your staff is even more so. From humane treatment of animals and an organic pest-cleansing bath entry to the slaughter room to high temperature water cleaning of both beast and work area, your sanitary standards are impeccable. Your staff knows these animals and even the pastures from which they came. We didn’t know that the USDA certification requires an inspector to be present at every slaughter and that each part of every beast is examined. From the time it is hooked until cuts are shrink-wrap sealed, the only thing touching the floor is employees’ shoes. Not even a single stray hair is allowed anywhere!
At first glance, the amount and color of fat and condition of the animal’s bones reveal much. For example, yellowed external fat shows the presence of betacarotene from grass and may indicate an older animal. Or a steer lacking outer fat is likely to be tough and is graded lower; at This Old Farm it becomes ground beef sold wholesale instead of steaks and roasts marketed to customers. Such a pastured animal probably needed longer to mature.
Master Butcher Kari Underly explained that butchering the split carcass begins with slashes between ribs 6 & 7; 10 or 11 & 12. Then working between major muscle groups, butchers (robed like a surgeon!) found the most beneficial incisions, coaxing flesh to yield its best primal and sub primal cuts. The tough outer membrane was removed, cuts trimmed, and scraps sorted for ground meat or trash. Employee safety is a high priority throughout; stainless steel mesh gloves protect the nondominant hand, butcher and boning knives are available as needed, and sharpening steels are used frequently because a dull knife is dangerous.
But the most telling point about your operation is your staff. We perceived a unanimous focus on the ideal of harmony between land and table. You radiate a profound respect for the animals we raise and eat, for the relationship between man and beast, and for care taking this world in which we live. Thank you for sharing your day and your work. It is a blessing to us.
Brian & Lois Gribnea