31 March 2006

The Butcher

Throughout the realms where despots reign,
What tracks of glory now remain!
Their people, slaves of power and pride,
Fat Beef and Freedom are denied!
What realm, what state, can happy be,
Wanting our Beef and Liberty?

The above-mentioned verse was an ode to the Sublime Society of Beefsteaks, a song sung by the President of the Day and fitting tribute to the subject matter of the butcher.

It was with interesting appeal that I researched the trade of the butcher, through various cultures, history and times. Perhaps one of the succinct articles that struck the cord in my heart as well as the heart of the matter was this, Waste not, want not written by CJ Mouser for Agriculture Online which I suppose rang true to my own personal modified idiom (and prayer) which is “Want not waste!”

Now when one thinks of a butcher or the term '‘to butcher'’ it is oft easy these days to think of a barbaric ritual of gratuitous bloodletting and a hack & slash manner of consumptive squander.

Far a field from the art and skills employed by the non-industrialized butcher of times past, for it was with care of his craft and the necessities of economy that preserved his labors. Yet the question might be put, is it but by the standards set by the cult of efficiency, more aptly known as modern progress that we have allowed it to pass? Can the ideal and practice of a local butcher be rekindled, and diligently serve a localized economy? I think, ~Yes.

Tom & I were discussing the subject of the local butcher this past week as we '“talked shop'” and I mentioned missing the benefit of our community having one here in Catskill. Knowing that the common practice of one dressing their own has for all practical sense been regulated out of existence to the benefit of the industrialized agricultural companies and cronies at the UDSA. Makes one desire Beef & Liberty!

This topic though is not so much as to eulogies or romanticize the efforts or the local butcher, but to get to the heart of the matter of sufficiency. As well, to dispel some of the hunker in the bunker notions and thinking of those within & without the agrarian community. Was it better said, “No man is an island”?

To the concept of misquoted or misdirected thinking regarding self-sufficiency, it's a lonely row we hoe indeed if we claim that we have no need of another. For in part we are determined to "“provide for one’s own"” and it is of benefit to "“chop wood and carry water”" to use a phrase for our labor that we not become an undue burden to our neighbor. To that I would add that it is not becoming of the hand to say to the eye ~ I have no need of thee!

Community requires us to admit we each need the work, the knowledge and the skill of the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker for each in a local society provide in goods and economy for the general well being of the people. I like the idea that Small, Local, Old, and Particular are almost always better than Big, Global, New, and Abstract. That sufficiency of ones own can be defined within a community (roughly framed) as this:

Accomplishing defined or required objectives, according to the required or defined conditions, conforming with the right time, place, quantity, quality and costs.

As within a family each person within a community should have value, and that value or worth, defined by distant markets is cheapened by the mile. Something to consider when you ask yourself “what is my time worth?” and you gaze not at the face of your clock but at its base...


At 7:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Scott!

Sunny and warm today after our rain and snow yesterday. Come on Spring!

I enjoyed your post and look forward to the next in this series!

May God bless you and yours!

At 10:47 AM, Blogger Emily said...

Good post. Am I on target here? The Lord establishes a model for dependence upon one another within the confines of a community: "From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. - Eph.4:16" As we do spiritually within his body, so do we need each other in other areas of our lives rather than placing our reliance on one huge entity.(Ahem...Super WalMart?)


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