I’m half town mouse and half country mouse. My mom loves her creature comforts – full-service cable, air conditioning, and oodles of places to eat out on a whim. My dad grew up on a dairy farm, getting in scrapes, being a buddy with dirt, and being happiest sans roof.
By the time I came into the picture, my paternal grandparents had shifted from dairy cows to beef, Polled Herefords to be exact, and moved to Montana. My brother, sister, and I spent many a summer day up at their ranch, getting into our own scrapes, helping where we could, and learning the all-important lesson of farm to table.
I was really lucky to get these experiences. To look at me, you’d think I’m all town mouse. In fact, whenever playing, “To Tell the Truth,” my story about herding cattle always gets chosen because, well, no one looks at me and thinks, “Well golly, of COURSE she’s herded cattle.” Part of my luck, I feel, is that I was exposed to the whole circle of life and have a pretty priceless understanding of how a calf that I rescued from a ditch would someday end up as hamburger, and I was okay with that.
Understanding breeds acceptance. When I became a vegetarian, my beef-raising family accepted that change with nary a blink. When I returned to eating meat a few years later because of my health, that too was accepted. While I never came back to the place where I ate as much meat as I had before going veggie, I gotta say, a good grass-fed, grass-finished steak or hamburger is a lovely thing to experience.
Locally, we’re gifted with a wonderful beef rancher by the name of Jim Gates. His beef tastes as good as it gets – lean, juicy, and chock full of flavor. Jim is something of a rock star around these parts. Mister Salt-of-the-Earth, brusque rancher-man is like a palette-cleanse – he tells it like it is, with an impish sense of humor.