Tag Archives: processing

crash landing

[This is an open letter, certainly, but also a way to process for me… to write out the steps I’ve taken to see where I started and how far I’ve come. It will be too much and too little, depending on where you stand with me. Simply consider this a page from my diary. Thanks for walking with me.]
pasture

For a good while now, I have been on the verge. On the verge of a breakthrough or a breakdown… it could go either way. For months I processed a little out loud and a lot quietly – but I was just inching forward. I was on the right track, certainly, and pointed in the right direction… but I was farther back than I anticipated. It was going to take more.

MORE of something.

Then I read this:

I have to fight against voices that tell me I’m wasting time, especially mine.

When God gave instructions to build the tabernacle where He would dwell, He gave people the gift of artistic design “in all kinds of crafts” — “to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship” to adorn, decorate and make everything. (Ex.31:11)

Now that Jesus is here, you and I have become the tabernacle where God dwells.

We are the living temples, where Jesus lives.  (2 Cor.6:16)

Each of us is created with beauty in mind, to reflect God’s artistic imprint.

[from Bonnie, over at (in)courage]

and sweet Megan’s confession yesterday…

We are over our heads right now. Like, we have to look up to see Survival Mode.

And I thought,

Yes.

YES.

THIS is what I need to see. Moms, real moms, who struggle with their inner voices. Who don’t always match their blog titles. Who find themselves in the basement wondering where the last 4 months went. Who are afraid, sometimes, to take that first step. Moms who are on a similar journey and are speaking about it out loud.

I was afraid to speak it out loud.

The last few years have been bruising to both my body (GIDEON JAMES) and my spirit. Suddenly I found myself sitting at the beginning of June and completely terrified of the months ahead. No school, no schedule, no help. There were LOTS of potholes that had built up over time… some due to the exhaustion of having Littles, some from a crazy-busy work schedule for the husband, a lot from letting simple care go down the tubes.

I wasn’t reading. I wasn’t singing. I wasn’t eating well. I wasn’t MOVING. I was just… surviving.

Which, and hear me here, is real and good and honest for a time… but at some point you must make an effort to move if the scenery is going to change, amen? So I sat down with Curt over email and in person and we made some plans. Specifically, some plans for me.

And with less of a mighty roar and more of tentative creep, I began to crawl out of the hole.

Again.

Because I have done it before and i will surely have to do it again.

There are some new boundaries in place.

  1. No gluten for 6 weeks, but it’s pretty obvious we’ll be going beyond that. Your brain is clear and you are waking up not mad at the world. Let’s stick with good, eh?
  2. Daily supplements (AdreneVive and NeuroCalm), which are just that: supplements to your regular medication that keeps base camp at a normal level and not in the dungeon. And I do take regular medication… let’s be clear about that.
  3. Regular appointments with a counselor who has objective eyes and no personal claim on my life. This started as a twice-a-month visit and has moved to once-a-month recently. Soon and very soon, this will taper off but with an open-door policy to come back and re-evaluate the tool bag if and when needed.
  4. Regular chiropractic appointments to fight the severe TMJ, creeping arthritis, and headaches that complicate daily life.
  5. A good old-fashioned check of the hormone levels to see if everything is still clicking correctly in there after three (equally beautiful and insane) children. The results of this test will help modify the supplements in #2, but the test takes a month to complete.
  6. Help once a week. This, perhaps, is worth more than everything listed above. Once a week, for a couple hours DURING DAYLIGHT HOURS, I get to leave the house with no children and write, grocery shop, fight with phone companies, go to my regular doctor appointments, and eat. Alone.
  7. I asked a friend to mentor me in the fall. We have no idea what that means… either one of us… but I have loved her for years and always look forward to church softball season knowing I will see her in the bleachers. I was challenged in April to actually ask… like, verbally SPEAK [*freaking out*]… to someone about meeting and walking together for a bit. They said to consider your life at the moment and think of a woman a little older, just one or two life steps ahead that might walk alongside me (and me alongside her) for a little while.  Maybe a class together or a book together and certainly food together… we haven’t figured it out yet. But I did it. I DID IT. She laughed at me, and then she said yes.

All of this?

Completely out of character for me. Do you know how many checks I’ve written this summer? A lot. Do you know how hard it is for me to say out loud that a babysitter comes once a week for me? Ridiculously hard. Because I know there are moms out there with more kids and more special-needs and more animals and more everything and yet function just fine.  The reality is- I was not functioning fine. I was not healthy and I was spinning my wheels.

Thank goodness for a spreadsheet husband (Right, Megan?!) who can step into those chaotic moments and say, “Ok. Here’s what we’re going to try.” This approach doesn’t always fly with me (stop laughing), but when you are on the deep side of a hole, a sturdy, evenly-spaced ladder is exactly what you need.

What I need.

Yeah for marrying well. Go, God.

No, seriously. How amazing is it to have and know a God who begs you to have a full life?

I say all of this to simply acknowledge that I am not above or beyond help.

And, neither are you.

It is not a waste of time.

It is never a waste of time to try to make things better.

If you could change one thing right now… one little thing that might make a world of difference, what would you change?

Come on over. Let’s talk about it.

*pats picnic table*

I’ve got lemonade and brownies to help us figure it out.

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the nitty gritty

THE LOGO WINNER IS DECISIVELY THIS GUY.  Thanks for voting!  I’ll yell to you Thursday about sweatshirt options… still waiting on the printer to give me some prices.

TEXASnorthSTAR1

Em, mind if we go one step further on this whole beef thing? A few of you emailed to ask about the specifics of cost.  Alrighty.  Stick with me.  Let me preface by saying that I speak only from what I know personally. I cannot guarantee this is how all operations work or that my math goes beyond a 2nd-grade level.

PART 1 (our farm)

PART 2 (grocery vs. local)

So, we talked about how we raise Longhorns for the history of the breed. And then, we started having a LOT of bull calves, so we started selling beef to a few friends. How does that beef get from our pasture at 20 months and into their freezer? Good question.

First, we call up the butcher and schedule a pick-up date. We don’t have our own trailer to haul cattle, but the shop is happy to make the rounds and give our guys a ride for a very small fee.  Honestly, this helps me… I don’t think I could take them myself. It would just be too much for me to handle. I love my boys. I see them off from the farm and that’s fine by me.  They head down the road where they will stay the night in stalls at the shop with all the other beef that was picked up that day around town.

The next morning, the boys are put down and immediately dressed. This is where your pictures of a meat locker come in… tough guy in a white lab coat back in a freezer surrounded by sides of beef hanging on hooks.  Those sides you’re picturing are actually halves.  So, the two halves of a cow are hung together over the scale in the shop to get the HANGING WEIGHT.  When the halves are hanging and weighed they are missing (and forgive me, but I’ll just got through it) the head, the hide, the legs, and the non-edible organs.

Prices are all based on the animal’s hanging weight. This is when the animal is in its largest usable state but before the specific trimming is done for each customer.

When you buy a side of beef (a quarter, half, or whole), you pay the farmer a price for raising and feeding your animal, but you also pay the butcher for humanely and precisely processing that animal.

The butcher makes a note of each animal’s hanging weight and then calls the farmer. By the time the farmer calls the customers and the customers have placed their individual orders, the sides of beef will have hung in the freezer and aged for 10-14 days. This helps tenderize and flavor the beef.

Alright. So, the beef has been dressed and weighed and aged a bit.  The customers have all called in their preferences and everything’s packaged for the freezer.  Now it’s time to work out the cost.  Our farmer fee is $3.50 per pound (hanging weight).  Our butcher’s processing fee is $.40 per pound (hanging weight).  Add those two together and you get your total cost per pound, or $3.90 per pound.

EXCEPT. You don’t take all that hanging weight home. Remember, the price is based on hanging weight, but you don’t want to take all that weight home.  You’re still looking at the bones, the excess fat, and the tendons of the animal hanging there… no thank you.

In 2010, we bought a half of one of our steers.  That 20-month old steer hung at 480 pounds. When we brought our boxes home, Curt counted everything out before putting it in the freezer.  We don’t do this every time, but it’s been a great reference. Here’s the break-down:

quantity cut weight
48 Ground Beef 50
1 Brisket 4.25
5 Soup Bone 12.5
6 Loin Sirloin Steak 11
7 Round Steak 20.25
5 Stew Meat 6.5
1 Heel Round Roast 2.75
3 Chuck Arm Roast 6
2 Round Tip Steak 6
2 Chuck Blade Roast 3.75
2 Rolled Round Rump Roast    4.75
8 Short Ribs 9
11 Rib Steak 11.5
6 Loin Porterhouse Steak 7.5
8 Loin T Bone Steak 8
7 Chuck Roast 15
2010’s half    480# hanging weight 178.75

This chart represents a HALF portion, so the WHOLE guy would have put 357.5 pounds in the freezer- or 74.4% of the hanging weight after trimming and packaging. Excellent return.  Because longhorns are so genetically lean (90 to 95%) our steers lose very little fat in the trimming process.  This allows us to bring more meat home.

Let’s figure out the actual cost.  The out-the-door, pretend like I’m buying from Kroger price.

farmer fee: 3.50 x 480 hanging weight x half =  $840

butcher fee: .40 x 480 hanging weight x half =  $96

We paid $936 for 178.75 pounds, which works out to $5.24 per take-home pound. THIS is what you use to compare cost at the supermarket.  We paid $5.24 for ground beef, for roasts, for prime steaks. $5.24 across the board.

And, there you have it. The whole deal. It’s more than just a per-pound price on a sticker. There are people and time and feed bins and haul trailers and massive freezers and phone calls and preferences and a couple checks behind that number… which can be a bit daunting to the buyer. But, I hope this helps explain a little of what goes into those numbers and sheds a little light on the subject.

It’s a little more involved than just cruising by the meat counter at the grocery store, but it’s so very worth it.

The End