Just a knife?

To you, this knife may not look like much. It may look old, rusty, worn out.

To me, though, it’s so much more.


Look closely and you’ll see the initials “RH” carved into the handle, put there years ago by a man I never met. He was Big C’s great-grandfather, a man he never met either.

I’m not sure how we came to own the knife, but it, like several other pieces of butchering equipment, now belongs to us and is used around this time of year – in fact, just yesterday.

While I certainly enjoy filling my freezer with homegrown pork, days like this satisfy more than just a physical need. They make me feel connected to my family, and agriculture, in a way not much else can.

As I said, we use several pieces of equipment, both large and small, that were used by past generations. Just knowing our grandparents and great-grandparents used the very same tools to do the very same tasks is fascinating to me. It’s also a testament to the quality of the products that were used much more frequently back then because of need, not novelty.

Using a sausage seasoning recipe in my grandpa’s handwriting, that calls for “a little salt,” “a good amount of pepper,” and “sage to taste” makes me think about how he knew exactly what that meant, and makes me wonder if our version tastes like his did.

As I try some freshly-cooked sausage, I think about how it’s truly “farm to fork” and how many farm families were local food before local food was cool. I know the animals we cared for on our farm will help feed not only my family, but families of others as well.

I also think about the fact that butchering is a social activity. There are many jobs to do, but there’s never a shortage of help. Family and friends come together to get the job done and enjoy each other’s company while doing it. While I’m definitely in favor of technology, I do feel that sometimes it causes us to lose the camaraderie of working together for a common goal, something agriculture, and families, are built upon.

So even though it’s old, that knife still has value. It’s still able to be sharpened for use, and a testament to the fact that even though many things have changed and are going to keep changing, there are still valuable lessons to learn from the past.


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