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Remember the hamburger?

When I was a kid, I adored the taste of a hamburger. It was simply awesome. Over the years I lost my love for the hamburger. How did this happen? Were my taste buds changing, or has the hamburger changed? For years I believed that I had aged and my food preferences had matured.
Then in the 1980's I found myself living on a farm and running a small beef cow/calf operation. I had 2 Angus, 1 Hereford and 2 Charolais cows. I would go to livestock auctions to see what was going through the ring and one day an incredible Angus cow was brought out with her fat little bull calf. The cow was not for sale but the calf was and the cow was brought out to show the lineage. I was the winning bidder for the calf which kind of surprised me to be so lucky. I concluded none of the big buyers present needed a bull calf that day. The truth was elsewhere. When I got the calf home I put him in the barn (it's good practice to keep a new animal separated from your herd in case he has cooties) he began eating hay immediately. This was odd because he was too young to be eating hay already. He also seemed to be coughing quite a bit. Not wanting to take any chances with infecting my herd I hauled him to a large animal vet in my Chevy van. He was found to have pneumonia and was infested with worms which was what gave him his nice round appearance, he was also about 6 months old, not a month old like I thought. This explained the hay eating. Thinking back I remembered something I observed in the auction ring but disregarded at the time. The mother cow was avoiding the calf totally. Apparently she had never even seen this calf prior to being brought into the ring with him. The other, far more experienced buyers didn't miss this fact and withheld bidding. They could see the scam the auction was perpetrating by offing this runt on some shmuck (me) and I couldn't. WTH, I grew up in midtown Manhattan I had a lot to learn about cattle farming, apparently I needed educating about livestock auctions too.

Comments (6)

ooby_dooby
Well, I got rid of the worms and treated the pneumonia with anti-biotics and banded the little bull (turned him into a steer) and after the quarantine period, turned him out onto the grass to grow to 1500 lbs or so. $250.00 poorer for my ignorance. About 2 years later my steer got to the incredible weight of about 600 lbs and refused to get any bigger. Then he went blind. I put the steer in the barn and fed him grain & hay and treated his severe case of Pink Eye with the old timey salt treatment. Don't ask! Farming is not always pleasant. I was learning that in farming you don't run to the Vet for every little thing like when your dog has a runny nose, you learn to treat it yourself, farming is a business after all. After about 3 weeks I was working in the barn and noticed the steer was following my movements with his head. I said "You SOB I bet you can see
me." I silently moved my hand to the side and his head followed. I did this a couple of times with like results. At this point it was time to send this animal to market. There was no more to gain by keeping him, he wasn't gaining any more weight and I just grained him out. Putting him back on grass would be a waste of time. All in all, this whole venture was an excersize in losing money. I decided to haul him to a finished beef auction. All the livestock sold here were going to slaughter. They've all been either grained out to produce prime beef or were right off the grass aimed at the lower commercial market (think MacDonalds, Hardies, & Burger King).
Well, I got rid of the worms and treated the pneumonia with anti-biotics and banded the little bull (turned him into a steer) and after the quarantine period, turned him out onto the grass to grow to 1500 lbs or so. $250.00 poorer for my ignorance. About 2 years later my steer got to the incredible weight of about 600 lbs and refused to get any bigger. Then he went blind. I put the steer in the barn and fed him grain & hay and treated his severe case of Pink Eye with the old timey salt treatment. Don't ask! Farming is not always pleasant. I was learning that in farming you don't run to the Vet for every little thing like when your dog has a runny nose, you learn to treat it yourself, farming is a business after all. After about 3 weeks I was working in the barn and noticed the steer was following my movements with his head. I said "You SOB I bet you can see me." I silently moved my hand to the side and his head followed. I did this a couple of times with like results. At this point it was time to send this animal to market. There was no more to gain by keeping him, he wasn't gaining any more weight and I just grained him out. Putting him back on grass would be a waste of time. All in all, this whole venture was an exercise in losing money. I decided to haul him to a finished beef auction. All the livestock sold here were going to slaughter. They've all been either grained out to produce prime beef or were right off the grass aimed at the lower commercial market (think MacDonalds, Hardees, & Burger King).
ooby_dooby
I had made the acquaintance of a guy who worked at the auction and made a deal with him to act as my shill to get the bidding up (I was learning the game). If I couldn't get a decent price I had planned to haul the steer right to the butcher and eat the bastard myself. The auction got going and the cattle were going through the ring and selling at a good clip and I waited for my steer to come out. I waited, and waited and suddenly the auction was over. WTH? Where is my steer? “Hey, I shouted to the auctioneer what about MY steer?” “You mean that little one?” he asked. “Yeah.” I said. “You mean you actually wanna sell that
thing?” “Nah I just brought him here to make friends.” I said. “Ok, bring out that little cow.” “It's not a cow” I shouted. They brought out my steer and everybody was making jokes about him and nobody was making an opening bid. My shill gave me a quizzical look implying “What do you want me to do?” I made the throat slitting gesture and told the auctioneer to forget it. I fell back on plan B.

A few days later I got a call from the butcher to come and get about 450 lbs of various cuts of beef including steaks, roasts, ground beef etc. The moment of truth was upon me. Would I be able to actually eat the flesh of an animal that I raised from a calf and cared for for so long? I had to fight back the revulsion I was feeling telling myself if I can't get past this, I had no business being a farmer. What did it really matter anyway? It was all in my head. I made a patty out of some of the ground beef and fried it up, put it on a bun with some ketchup and bit into it. Ho lee shit! I was transported back to when I was 10 years old. It tasted like a hamburger tasted when I loved hamburgers. I couldn't believe how different this was compared to what I had been accustomed to for decades. It suddenly became obvious how fast food joints had manipulated the consumer into accepting incredibly low quality tasteless mystery meat
disguised as beef. It was like I hadn't had a hamburger for over 50 years. I still go to MacDonalds, you gotta eat to live after all. I don't have the farm or even a chest freezer anymore, but burned in my memory is what a real hamburger tastes like.
About 4 years ago in Washington state at a McDonalds warehouse there was a brief scandal when upon following up on a tip it was learned that some of the hamburger meat there contained DNA that matched that of a missing child. Further testing discovered the meat of 2 other humans mixed in with the sampled McDonalds beef and beef product burgers. The investigation was continuing, but the papers never reported any more about it.
Agentbob
Great story ! Speaking of hamburger

Boy, do eYe know what you mean...
Lane's Charcoal, 1966, corner of Camp Wisdom & Library Ln......Dallas TX my first very well made hamburger


Haven't really had anything like it since.
Orzzz
Animals used to be fed corn and hay and grass. Now they eat soybeans and fish meal and grass. Lean lean lean. So pork is dry and tastes like cardboard. And beef has no taste at all.
When I was a kid we raised sheep. I wanted a calf. So dad paid $5 for a Hereford bull calf. Then he said have to deal with one, might as well have two. Farmer sold us a Holstein bull calf week old too for $10 cause not a pet he said.
Well, Herford was fine. Holstein got scourers. Dad talked to farmer. Need cows milk with eggs and sugar. So dad paid him for milk. Calf lost most of his hair, keep getting covered with manure and flies. We babied him and he made it. New hair came in soft as velvet. I played with them. Hereford was my pet more. Dad said remember, they are meat. They got castrated and grew. By fall, they were around 500#. Not so much fun when I got butted now. Dad said sheep were coming back from summer pasture and he didnt want them in cow crap so time to ship to butcher. We looked at the Holstein and saw him in manure and flies. Agreed he got sold to market!barf Mom couldnt believe I could eat the meat from my pet. I said knew it was the way it would be. And he was not so much fun that size already.
Bad part was he was too young. Too old for veal and not beef. Just mushy.
All beef got down graded. Choice used to be grade. Try to find prime anymore.
There was a franchise here in Canada during the 60s and 70s called the RED BARN their burgers were truly tasty like no others. That taste is so gone away from a good hamburger these days. In the early 2000s I spent alot of time northern Cal and the double double burger at "In and Out" to die for yummy. burger gotta go cartwheel joy

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