Spent some time mingling with the locals down in Texas last weekend. Longhorns never fail to impress with their size and that massive headgear. These cattle were stopping traffic just outside Georgetown. Resting near a fence, they were content to pose for a bunch of out-of-towners like myself.
I was struck by the beauty of the cow in the front on the right side. I have never seen a more photogenic cow. Look at the tilt of her head, subtle and alluring and just the angle the photographers always try to get out of me as I awkwardly jerk my head about until they finally give up.
Here she is again, that super-model of bovines. The dark guy to the left rear blinks as the shot is taken. The light guy behind her appears drunk with his eyes half-mast and horns pointing different directions. But the lovely cow sits serenely, titling her head in the most becoming of ways.
I have always been a skittish meat eater, and as I realize I am smitten with this Longhorn cow I think I may have just stumbled across why I have mixed emotions about eating beef.
Over the past several years we have attempted to eat locally when possible. As much as I can, I like to know where our food comes from. If it was grown closely enough that I know the farmer, chances are really good that the nutrient levels are still high and the food will nourish us well.
I get eggs from one of the teachers at school, milk from a dairy on the county line. There are people at church who provide us with corn and juicy tomatoes every summer. The fruit trees in our own backyard offer us a bounty. But when it comes to something that once had long eyelashes and big brown eyes, I get a little queasy.
All it takes is the sight of this brand on the hindquarters of one of the Longhorns to remind me that this herd is being grown as a food product. My rancher nephews have no problem with this concept. I remember enjoying a barbecue at my sister’s right up until the moment her youngest son asked, “Is this Snowball?” about his burger. I remembered Snowball. My dinner was over.
I doubt if I will ever get as blasé as my nephew, but we have just ordered a side of beef from a guy my husband knows. He and his dad raise the cattle. They feed them grass rather than a corn diet they were never meant to ingest. They deal in small enough numbers raised in large enough quarters that they have no need to load them up with antibiotics. And on occasion the farmer has even been known to give the cows a hug or two.
OK, I know the hug thing was supposed to make me feel better, but now I am back to thinking about the long eyelashes and pretty cow again.
I think I will just go with a grilled cheese sandwich. Then nobody gets hurt.