Pets or meat

Many years ago I covered the livestock auction at the San Joaquin County Fair. The reporter who was with me was normally on a sports beat but pulled weekend duty that day. He asked a young 4-H’er what did they think would happen to his prize steer after the auction. The lad, upon the realization that his steer, which he raised from a baby would be sold for meat, immediately began to cry. Back at the office the reporter, who was a city person, kept repeating: “I didn’t know, I didn’t know!”

On the opening day of this year’s fair, I wandered the livestock area looking for a picture. I saw a girl spray painting white spots on her black steer. I asked her what she was doing. She said that there was going to be a “costume” contest featuring the beef cattle and was “dressing” up her steer to look like a Dalmatian (I didn’t have the heart to tell her that the dogs are white with black spots).

I turned the corner down another aisle of stalls and came across 14-year-old Anna Miller with the Linden-Peters 4H Club, painting white lines the side of her steer, Jasper. She said that she was drawing the cuts of beef on the steer’s sides. It’s my guess that Miller didn’t shed too many tears when it came time to auction off Jasper.

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