Day 12 12/24/04
We woke up a little earlier today.
There’s a rhythmic sort of sound in the barn. The cows mooing, the sound of the milk machines sucking, sound of cows turning on the water and drinking, Marie saying “Whoa”. The sound of the poop and pee hitting the gutter. There are a lot of layers.
At night when it’s time for the cows to be milked we have to call them in. We yell “Come-On!” It sounds like that, I don’t think it means anything in German. I think we say it because it sounds like the cows mooing a little bit. I think it’s our half-assed way of trying to trick them to come in, like it’s their cow friend saying “Hey come on, it’s fun in here and there’s yummy grain!”
We were taking the milk over in the spudnick to be separated into milk and cream. We have to do that twice a day usually when Peter has a lot of orders. The spudnick looks like a little Russian satellite. Maybe that’s why they call it the spudnick. It’s a big metal ball on wheels that you empty the pails of milk in and can use to transport short distances.
We were almost at Peter’s house and Albert saw a car turning down his street, "The butcher’s here.” He said. We were going to butcher a calf, a cow, and two pigs today. I though we were going to do it at night for some reason. Maybe because I associate “killing” and “death” with being hidden.
I hadn’t had breakfast yet. I was still feeling weird from yesterday. My cut was still open pretty bad. The raw honey that I put on it was helping, I think. My body heat was melting it, every once and a while I’d have to wipe it out of my eyebrows and eyes.
The butcher picked us up and took us back. He was a Mennonite, he had his son Joseph, about 12 years old with him. I forgot the butcher’s name. He looked like a butcher or a hitman. He looked like Jude Law’s character in Road to Perdition. He was wearing a Mennonite hat and glasses, blue medical gloves, he was driving with them on. Thin pale face. His son had crooked teeth, pale, looked like a normal young kid. He was wearing mechanic's overalls. The kind where it’s like a full suit and the pants are attached to the shirt. They both had bloody knife holsters.
We parked behind the barn and Albert went to go get the calf. I helped them open the barn doors. They started putting on these butcher utility belts with knives and sharpeners etc. I went to go help Albert. He was trying with all of his strength to push the calf out of the barn. It was a small white and black Holstein calf. There was a rope tied around its head. I started pulling the rope while Albert pushed. The calf really didn’t want to go. We got it to where the butcher was. He had a small rifle. Albert held the back while he held the rope. He put the rifle on top of the calf’s head. The calf was still struggling. He pulled the trigger, it made a loud pop. The calf immediately dropped to its knees making a loud crack on the cement floor. It fell to the ground and started twitching with a stream of blood coming from its head. Joseph started laughing and shaking like the calf. Sparkle was barking. The butcher came over and stuck the knife into the cow’s neck, or maybe it was the heart and blood gushed out. The blood was really dark red and made little streams that went down the hill. They started cutting off the legs and slicing the calf into pieces.
Albert and I went to the barn, I don’t remember if it was before the calf or after. We had to get a harness around the bulls head so we could call it out. We had to trick it. Albert tied a string to the part of the gate that the cows put their heads through to eat. He gave the bull some grain to get it to put its head through. The bull did and we pulled the string closing the gate on its head. The bull didn’t like that and was fighting.
I was with the butcher and watching them with the calf. I went down to help Albert and I saw the pigs already dead in the horse stalls. They had been shot in the head and had their throat cut out. We got one of the Belgians (the big horses) and tied a rope around the pig to the horse. We dragged it up to the back of the barn. The horse started freaking out and wouldn’t go all the way to where the dead calf was. I think it smelled the blood and didn’t want to be next. We finally got it up there. We went and got the other pig. This time Albert had a stick and had to whack the horse a couple of times to get it to take the pig up there. They cut apart the pigs. It was weird they had a couple of different garbage pails for things. They would put the head and skin in one, hooves in the other. It surprised me how non-kids gloves they were.
We went to go get the bull, it took Albert and me both pulling on it to get it out of the barn. We tied it on the back of a long wagon to which two of the Belgians were hooked up to. The bull was freaking out, it was falling down, jerking its head, it really did not want to go with us. We started going towards the barn. I jumped on top of the wagon. I was above the bull and watching it. It was really angry. We got it to the barn and we had to back up the wagon to get the bull in a good spot so we wouldn’t have to drag its dead body too far. The butcher jumped on the wagon and started kicking it in the side of the head and ribs to move it over. He got it to a good spot and put the rifle in the center of its head. All of a sudden the bull stopped struggling and stood still. The butcher pulled the trigger and the same "THUNK" sound happened when it hit the cement floor.
Earlier when we brought the dead pigs up to the barn, Sparkle started attacking it. When the calf was still shaking and dying, Joseph was laughing and shaking too, mocking it. Sparkle started humping the cow’s legs(1).
We were butchering the bull and the butcher looked at Albert and asked him, “Did you know that we buried my dad Tuesday?” Albert didn’t. Albert said, “So he is sound asleep." The butcher said “No, he is wide awake.” He stated talking about how his dad would talk about “the Lord” to everyone he met, and that is why he is in heaven. He said his dad died of brain cancer. While we were butchering, he would stop everyone once and a while and say something about his dad. He would smile or laugh; talk about memories. How they did not have to take the car keys away from his dad, Ken, when he wasn’t fit to drive anymore. The butcher said, “Some people you have to take the keys away from, but not him.” It seemed like he wanted to talk about his dad. Sometimes he would say something about the Lord like “People who run with the Devil, that’s what they get.” Stuff about the Lord and Devil. Maybe he was doing it because that’s what his dad did and he was trying to be like him. Maybe Joseph will be talking like that in a couple of years. I was surrounded by death. It was one day before Christmas and in those two days before Xmas I had killed more and seen more death that in all of my life put together. I wonder if I am gong to have nightmares. I wonder if the animals I killed are angry at me.(2).
I feel weird. I went to Wal-Mart with George, Susan and Naomi toady. I left the unfinished ice cream in Homer Adams freezer and I needed to stop by the health food store to pick up some groceries. We hopped in the horse and buggy. We drove for around half an hour. On not so busy roads, on busy road and full on stop light/4 way intersections where we barely made it through(3).
It was Xmas day. The streets and parking lots were crowded. It was difficult to try and navigate a horse and buggy through a crowded Wal-Mart parking lot. We got to a hitching post at the far end of the parking lot. There were a couple of other carriages there. We got out and walked over a hill to Wal-Mart. We were shopping for doll baby strollers for Lucy and Lisa. It was fun, there were other Amish people shopping also. It was white trash and physical degeneration city. We were also looking for ice skates. We walked up to some of the employees behind the knife counter. They weren’t wearing uniforms or name tags. I could hardly tell if they worked there. As we got near them I heard the fat, white, toothless, dirty striped shirt girl say to the guy, “I can’t believe you ate 5 dozen eggs, you must be crazy.” They probably needed some Jersey butter. Employees, customers, everyone looked really messed up. Physical degeneration, it’s everywhere. I know it’s everywhere but it doesn’t sink into my head until I’m smack dab in the middle of a place like Wal-Mart. They didn’t have the doll baby strollers, neither did K-Mart, Dollar Tree or any other. I got Marie a retractable clothesline hanger. Naomi said that’s what she wanted.
From there and back it took about 4- 5 hours. It’s exhausting to ride in a horse and buggy. It’s very cramped. I stopped by Homer’s to get the ice cream and give him a copy of Weston A. Price’s Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. They didn’t have it but knew about it. When I first met Homer I didn’t really like him too much. I liked what he did: good food and grass-fed Jerseys. I felt that he was cocky, self-assured, handsome and strong and he knew it. I didn’t like that about him even though that is exactly how I am. It’s funny sometimes when I meet people who are a lot like me, I don’t like them. They bug me. He’s a great human being, loving, caring to his family, dedicated to spreading his knowledge, why do I think the worst of people?
I showed up and he was having dinner. I said hi and showed him the book and gave it to them. They smiled as I was leaving Homer asked, “How much do we owe you?” I said, “Nothing, Merry Christmas," and looked down. They smiled. I smiled.
2. The butcher said according to the bible, animals have no souls, so apparently I am in the clear.
3. Lancaster, Pennsylvania is a culture shock. I have been living in Los Angeles for the last couple of years. The only horses I see are the ones that the cops ride at the beach. On that Christmas Day, we were bumper-to-horse and running red lights. Everyone in the cars seemed used to it. The Amish were used to it. As if car exhaust wasn’t bad enough, I had to deal with horse exhaust too!