Teague Trek

Living life outside the lines

Sheep: It’s What’s for Dinner

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I try not to make assumptions.  It is something I picked up from a self help book and have found it rather useful. It is a lot easier than “living in the moment” so it is one rule I try to implement.  Assumptions just get you into trouble and they confuse things.  Consider these common assumptions, for example: I assumed the car was going to stop.  I assumed that he would remember our anniversary.  I assumed that the dog was house trained.  I assumed that we had more toilet paper. You get the picture. So, daily I remind myself to avoid assumptions and seek out the truth. (I also remind myself to do P90X daily and clearly that is not happening …)  I allow myself a few exceptions to the no assumptions rule.  Like, I think it is fair to assume that grungy white vans rolling slowly down gravel roads rarely bring glad tidings.  That assumption certainly held true today, especially for the sheep.  We have had our share of visitors on the farm.  A guy knocked to ask if I had seen his cows or his wife (true story).  I had seen neither.  Not sure I would have ratted out his wife if I had indeed seen her-pretty sure both she and the cow meant to get lost.  Then, there was a Mexican family that wanted to buy the Billy goat and I was inclined to let them as he is a real jerk but, alas, it was not my call.  A couple from Seattle drove up one Saturday morning to buy eggs and to pick peaches.  They were one of those really peaceful couples that dress alike and travel abroad for greater personal awareness.  So, I was not all together surprised when the van rolled up dusty and full of Guatemalans looking to buy sheep.  I assumed they wanted live sheep but, as I stated earlier assumptions are rarely correct.  You see, if I had known the truth of what they were going to do with the sheep, I would not have let my three young children be a part of catching and corralling them toward their imminent and swift death.  At first it was all fun and games.  The kids were running in the pen chasing the sheep and trying to help. It was a crisp, fall like morning and I, standing in my sweater with a cup of warm tea surveyed the scene and felt internally pleased with it all-until the quiet lady with the long braids pulled out her “gear”.  Keith, the most sensitive of my brood, went pale.  Pale is not an easy state to reach for a red head as they tend to be translucent from the get go.  Yet, I saw all the blood drain from his face and he ran straight to me.  “Mom, why does that lady have an axe? And a bucket?”  Oh.   So I took a deep breath and calmly said “Go ask your dad.”  I have been called naïve, overly trustworthy, clueless.  They are all apt descriptions.  But, truly, would you have guessed that these friendly people were planning to slaughter the sheep right there on the spot?  I do realize  that “friendly” has nothing to do with eating protein but it was just all so sudden, unexpected and raw-excuse the pun- but I mean, process them right there in the yard?  Clearly, I should have gone with my initial assumption about the van.  But, it was too late.  We were living in the present moment and it did not look good for the sheep.  The kids connected the dots and struggled with a mixture of curiosity and horror.  Suddenly, the rapid fire Spanish and the bleats of the sheep took on an eerie sound as we watched them tie up the two they had chosen.   I inched closer to the incredibly small statured woman yielding the knives and struck up a conversation.  I casually inquired, a little too late I am sure the sheep thought as they hung suspended and helpless from the raised tractor lift, about their plans for the animals that my kids had named Blanco and Bob. Unlike say “Fluffy”,  I concede that Blanco and Bob are names that do little to inspire empathy but those were their recently given names (we have only been farming 6 weeks) and I am just trying to keep it real here.   It turns out that the family was celebrating a baptism and the sheep were to be the entrée for the festivities.  She explained that they cook the meat in an enormous pot over an open fire in the backyard.  When I further pressed her for details, (I like to cook and have never attempted sheep-might as well learn from an obvious natural) she looked at me blankly.  Lindsey just stared at me, indignant that I would stray off topic while her pets were dangling upside down.  I don’t think that “duh” translates but eventually the senora offered “well, you just add some cilantro, jitomate, a little garlic, and…”   My experience in getting recipes from my neighbors south of our border is akin to getting directions from people from West Texas: it is all very vague.  This was no exception but there was little time for details as I had to get my kids in the house and out of ear shot.  I mean, why stay when their father was recording it?  Safe inside, I and turned up the music to drown out the proceedings and began damage control.  My pale (er) children listened to my rationale:  this is just like HEB without the paper or plastic question.  It is important to be aware of where our food comes from-probably better not to name our food but still.  Unlike animals raised for mass meat production Bob and Blanco had a great life on the farm. Until that darn van rolled up.  All in all I think that it proved to be a good lesson for the kids.  You can explain farm to market all day long but this was real.  The Guatemalans were no different from us ultimately and in the end they wasted less than the sources that provide our meat. Yet, it was extremely unsettling to have the wool (sorry) pulled from our eyes so abruptly.  So when Lindsey asked what was for dinner, I replied without hesitation “SALAD.”

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8 thoughts on “Sheep: It’s What’s for Dinner

  1. jcteague on said:

    So pretty!!

  2. HAHAHAH! Great job.

  3. Julie, great post. What a great experience for all of you. You’re really a GREAT writer!

  4. Brad Teague on said:

    I love it! What an awesome story!!!

  5. peggy manley on said:

    OK. The sheep story proves it……you are a fabulous writer and need to figure out how to make this a book. There go the next three years!!! Miss you all! Are you going to be in CO for Thanksgiving? I am desperately looking for a blow-up turkey as I do not think I can ever, ever cook another Thanksgiving dinner. I was thinking BUT and chicken salad.
    Love,
    Peg

  6. I loved this story, Julie. Well done. I mean “good job”.

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