aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
The cow: #9
I have to tell you that for a city-slicker (gay, at that!) buying a country cow is no easy feat. A friend, involved in organics here, forwarded an email and asked did I want to.
I said yes.
I note that another friend has corrected me; what we bought, says he, is not a cow but rather a steer. Some say that by the look of him he is, in fact, a Black Angus steer. The guy who sold him to me, the guy who raised him on his land, calls him a cow. Cow #9. I will, therefore, continue to refer to him as a cow.
I did the planning for this project and was
told that [CORRECTIONS INSERTED LATER] confused and understood that half a cow would probably weigh 400 pounds “hanging” (!) and yield 300 pounds of meat. We bought in for half, and planned to split that half with another couple. As those figures sank in - three. hundred. pounds. - I began to panic. That’s a lotta cow! I can’t say that I honestly eat that much meat.
We invited in a third couple.
I followed along the progress of the cow, and when he finally got to the abattoir
he weighed in at 1048 pounds. Our half, at $2 per pound, was $1,048. The hanging weight of the whole cow. minus the head, hooves &tc., was 524 pounds. Next we had to tell them how to cut him up. Again, I can’t say that I ever really knew all the cuts of beef, where they came from, how much there was of what, or how to cut it up!
The three people at the abattoir were incredibly helpful; they took us into the office, sat us down, and walked us through… Inch and a half steaks. More roasts than cubed. Leave the sirloin whole. Pound to pound and a half packages of ground. Julia got the liver. (Next time maybe I’ll ask about other parts that the dogs might enjoy; this time I was just happy to make it that far!) The cow must hang in the cooler for at least a week, three weeks if you want it “aged.” Ours hung 10 or 12 days.
When I picked up the meat they hauled it to my car in brown paper shopping bags piled on a hand truck and loaded it into my trunk. Processing costs include a $40 “kill fee” (our half was $20) and then 33Ã‚Â¢ per pound of processed meat. The total was $106.46. When I got home and looked at the receipt I saw that it had written on it, “1/2 524 = 262 lb.” Not wanting to cheat my friend, I returned to the abattoir and asked had they undercharged me?
He explained that the hanging weight of our cow #9 - after the head, hooves, skin, &tc had been removed - worked out to be half of the total weight of the cow (typically, he said, it’s about 60%). We were not undercharged. Each of the three couples has roughly 80 pounds of meat at roughly $4 per pound.
His receipt was right-on. The whole cow weighed 524, our half was 262. The people at the abattoir couldn’t understand where I was coming from saying that the cow weighed 1,048 pounds. The error was in an email from the guy who sold me the cow. In that email he absentmindedly quoted me the whole cow price, not the half, and because I had no idea what a half or a whole cow would weigh, I went from there. When I gave him the check he didn’t look at it until later then called and wondered, “didn’t you think that was too much???” Duh, NO! How would I know what a cow weighs???
All of us bought chest freezers but I’ll spare you that story. We plan to finish it off by fall. And buy another cow.
The abattoir - “You can’t beat our meat.”
With some friends, we bought a cow. I’ll get to the reasons later but I’ll start with the abattoir. Here we call our slaughterhouse an abattoir. From the French verb abattre which means “to strike down, to fell.” I’m not sure why we call it that; maybe to distance it from those industrial scaled cattle slaughterhouses that operate 24 hours a day killing more than 500 head an hour.
Our cow lived a good life and was killed humanely; the place looked and smelled clean. Maybe next time I’ll watch. I’m living Michael Pollan’s call for glass walls in slaughterhouses. As it turns out, the abattoir’s owner is the significant other of a colleague. When I wrote to ask her about him, she replied:
Yes, he is the owner. He has a very heavy [southern] accent, so if you talked with him, you know what I’m talking about. He told me about you coming out. He said that you wanted to take a picture of the cow hanging, but they were cleaning, so you couldn’t get to the cooler. Do you want me to take a picture and send it to you? It will not be your cow at this point, because your’s is cut up, but one side of beef looks just like any other.
“You can’t beat our meat!”
Once you have a hamburger made from a just breathing cow, you will never want to go to the grocery store again! At first the meat smells different from what you are used to, but that is because it is fresh. Not too long ago I got mad at him because he would not bring me any meat so I went to the grocery store and bought some. Joe, when I opened it and the smell hit me, I gagged and threw it away. I will wait for him to bring meat home or I will take the time to go over there myself and “shop”. I’ll be damned if I eat meat from a grocery store again!
The cow is in the freezer and, truth be told, I’m wondering if I’ve been so indoctrinated into corn-fed supermarket meat that it will take some time to get used to it. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Immigrants and crime
In the aftermath of the O’Reilly v Rivera verbal slugfest, Salon spoke with professor Robert J. Sampson, chairman of the sociology department at Harvard University and an academic who believes that immigrants “may actually be the secret to decreasing crime in the U.S.” His research shows immigrants are less likely to commit crime than native-born Americans. From the interview:
In our research, which is based on over 10 years of data collection and analysis of a long-term study in Chicago, our findings tend to be quite similar to other research showing that first-generation immigrants have lower rates of crime, particularly violent crime. In particular, first-generation immigrants, that is, people born outside the country, are much less likely to commit violence, in our data about 45 percent less likely than third-generation immigrants. In turn, second-generation immigrants are about a quarter less likely to commit crime than third-generation.
So, in other words, native Americans, those born here and whose parents are born here, are the most violent and the most criminal.
Lying and Lax Lending Aided Real Estate Fraud
The real estate analogue to resume padding:
Mortgage lenders in theory have a right to compare loan documents to a buyer’s tax returns, but they rarely do. In the few cases where it has been done, results were startling. In a study published by the Mortgage Asset Research Institute, one lender sampled 100 stated-income loan applicants and found that 90 had exaggerated take-home pay by 5 percent or more and that nearly 60 inflated their pay by more than 50 percent.
That from a WaPo story looking at rampant fraud in the mortgage industry. Atlanta was among those cities hardest hit. The fraud hurt honest home buyers first by artificially inflating prices and later by putting several thousand homes into foreclosure, driving down values. The suggestion is that fraud played a role in fueling the real estate bubble; the point in the excerpt above is that lenders didn’t bother checking.
By the way, lying about your income on a mortgage application is a federal crime.