You know that I am a rancher?
You know that I am a rancher? And you know what a rancher eats? Meat. Beef. Right? Oh, some ranchers might have a hog or two. Or they may raise sheep. And there could be a free-range chicken around the yard. Or a goat or two. I guess most of that depends on whether you have a daughter that ties goats, or a couple of kids in 4-H.
I had sheep when I was young. But my dog killed them. Dad said either no more sheep or no more dog. Well, the dog was my best friend.
But I do enjoy lamb once in awhile. Not that Shirley, former Cattlewoman of the Year, would ever prepare it. She had too much mutton when she was young and I can’t convince her that lamb is not mutton. So I have to have it when far, far away.
Now what brought this conversation on was a banquet I attended the other night. It was a wonderful meal. But when you sat down you had to pick between pork, chicken, or vegetarian. And I don’t think the vegetarian meal had a dispensation that allowed steak.
Now I chose pork. And it was very good. But given the fact that cattle have dropped about 25% in the past couple weeks, I really felt bad about supporting the competition. But since someone else was paying for my meal, I hardly mentioned it. Hardly being like hollering, “Where in the hell is the beef?” Shirley had to gavel me down.
But then on the way home I got to thinking about chickens. They walk behind the cattle and peck through the manure. That is if they are free ranging chickens. And if you pen them up in a group, or flock, or whatever it’s called, they eat each other.
I eat a lot of chicken wings. But they don’t taste like chicken. They tasted like Tobasco Sauce, or Louisiana Hot Sauce, or a combo of peppers and sauces. Or you can go to a fast food place and get chicken. It’s dipped in some kind of stuff so you can really tasted the crust, but the chicken is pretty much…Well, the chicken tastes like…I guess you can’t really taste chicken anymore.
Now when I was a kid, which is a long, long time ago, chicken was different. For Sunday dinner chicken was special. You had to grab a couple of those free ranging chickens, wring their neck, scald them, and pick those feathers off. Now, the only thing that stinks worse than scalded chicken feathers is a lump jaw cow. But that’s another story.
But Mom would fry that chicken in that big cast iron skillet and my, oh my, that was chicken. There was white meat and dark meat and gizzards and necks and gravy on new red potatoes. That was Sunday dinner.
Now chickens taste like whatever you dip them in.
Which reminds me of a story. A true story.
Most people are aware that Tyson Foods is the one of, if not the largest meat company in the world. And they started with chickens. All chickens.
One of their plant managers was giving a tour of a plant and explaining the process to a group of interested parties.
One young lady in the group raised her hand to be recognized for a question.
“How do you prepare your chickens for slaughter,” she asked?
“Mam,” he responded, “We tell them flat out that they aren’t going to make it!”
And with that I’m taking a package of steak out for supper. Bon Appetit!
Dean Meyer is a former state legislator and currently ranches in southwest North Daktoa. He has been a featured columnist around the state for many years.