Suppose you take an off-
David E. Thomas, author of Afternoon Stroll,
Buck’s Last Wreck and The Hellgate Wind
on the hoof
we moved out to the country a few years
ago and after watching a few YouTube
videos decided to buy a young steer and
put our overgrown pasture to use.
problem is neither the wife nor i grew
up processing our own meat so
not only do we not know how to butcher
an animal we’ve gone and done what
we said we wouldn’t and gotten attached
to him. Sammy the Steer, formerly known
as Steer #9501, likes having his cheeks
scratched and, if he sees us, he’ll low at
us until we give him some attention.
the girls like sitting on his back and loving
on him and i often find myself leaning
on the fence talking to him while he chews
his cud and swishes his tail at flies.
it’s also worth mentioning that we’ve
introduced more beans and lentils to our
diet which is probably a telltale sign
that we’re failing to fully embrace our
carnivorous natures. some folks might
call that consciousness. others might call
it cowardliness. all i know is that we probably
shouldn’t have started with a mammal
with such large, expressive eyes and such
a gentle, trusting nature. even if i can
will myself to shoot young Sammy between
those eyes i’m not so sure how edible
we’ll find him once he fills our as yet
unpurchased freezer especially after he’s
been following us around like a dog
for the past year. but winter’s coming
so we have to decide whether to purchase
enough hay and feed to push him over
to someone who is ultimately more suited
for the deed. as much as the girls and
i would like to keep Sammy for a pet, we
just can’t afford him without some sort
of payout at the end. kindergarten teacher
plus claims adjuster does not equal Lifestyles
of the Rich and Famous and we’ve already
taken on more mortgage then we should
have just to call this place our own.
now what started as a purely economic
decision to raise affordable beef has turned
into a soul-
who we are. do we kill and eat Sammy
ourselves or do we sell our bovine pet
to someone more accepting of his end.
it’s a decision we can’t afford to run from.
lives hang in the balance. we accept that.
i just wish we would’ve done like a neighbor
suggested and went with chickens first.
Kurt Sobolik lives near Alberton, MT, where he has a fine view of Cinderella Mountain and the Bighorn Sheep that occasionally make themselves known there. He enjoys building compost and each year manages to coax a few vegetables out of the ground. His other hobbies include reading, walking, and napping. This is his first book.
is a 100 page hand-
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Montana Poets Series #4
Mark Gibbons, Editor