Amish Cook: However you slice it, 'butchering day' is tiring

4:50 a.m.: My husband, Joe, didn't have to work today, so we were able to sleep later than usual. I get up as daughter Elizabeth is awake and packing her lunch for work.

5:15 a.m.: Elizabeth leaves for work; Joe gets up to check on the coal-stove while I fix us a pot of coffee.

6 a.m.: I wake up the rest of the children. They want coffee soup for breakfast while they get dressed for school. Seems this hour always goes fast. Usually someone can't find their shoe or someone else has forgotten to do their homework so that it is rush, rush to get ready for the bus. Joe is outside cutting a quarter off the 1,740 pounds of beef we dressed Friday night. The boys go outside to help push the pony wagon that Joe put the beef on down to the basement, where we will cut up the beef. It is nice to have walk-out doors so that they can pull the wagon up to the table. The quarters of beef are heavy, so just lifting them from the wagon to the table was hard enough.

7 a.m.: The bus comes and the children are off to school. Daughter Susan doesn't have to babysit today, so I will be glad for her help. We get some more tables set up in the basement and get everything ready to cut up all that beef.

8 a.m.: Sister Emma and her daughter Elizabeth arrive to help us.


8:15 a.m.: We have breakfast, which is egg Dutch, bacon, toast, cheese, sliced tomatoes, coffee and juice.

9 a.m.: We are ready to start on the beef. Joe cuts out the steaks while the rest of us work on cutting up strips of hamburger for the grinder. We also cut the meat into small chunks which I will process later.

Noon: Emma's son Steven comes off the bus here from school.

1 p.m.: We finally take a break and eat grilled cheese for lunch. I also fixed some "rare beef" for us all.

1:45 p.m.: We are almost finished with the second quarter. It takes a lot of time to trim all the bones and cut all that meat. I am also slicing some of the steaks.

3:30 p.m.: The rest of the children are home from school.

4 p.m.: Jacob and his children come over to help. Our friend Dan also comes in and gives us a lift. It helps that he keeps our knives sharpened, too. Working around the bones the knives get dull fast.

5 p.m.: Daughter Elizabeth is home from work. She is working 10-hour days, which gets tiresome. Elizabeth's friend Timothy also comes to help with the beef. Things are moving faster with so many people helping with cuts of meat. The boys go outside to do the chores. Elizabeth makes supper for everyone.


6:30 p.m.: We are almost done, and the hamburger is being put through the grinder. All the cut-up meat is carried out to the tool shed. It will stay cold while we work on getting it bagged and processed for the freezer over the next few days.

7:30 p.m.: It is late to eat supper and we wanted to finish up first. The younger children ate while we are finishing up. Elizabeth made spaghetti and meatballs and potato soup, along with cheese and crackers for supper. While we start eating, I fixed rare beef. It is best to eat right out of the skillet. It is also time-consuming, since we only make one piece at a time. It just wouldn't be the same to not get to taste rare beef on butchering day.

8:30 p.m.: Dan, Jacob and Emma all leave for home. We appreciated everyone's help. It was really windy and snowy when they left. The children are hoping for a snow day and no school tomorrow. I am also hoping they will have off so I will have more help with the meat.

9 p.m.: Timothy leaves and we are all ready for bed. It has been a long, tiring day.

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