We’re mostly omnivores out here in the heartland. Where I live, farming – both crops and animals, raising vegetable gardens and hunting are a way of life. Even most kids that live in the ‘city’ (defined as a nearby town of about 17,000 people) are involved in 4H or FFA or both because either farming or some other type of a land based lifestyle is represented somewhere in their families. People out here eat meat with their meals and they enjoy it. They bond over summer cookouts and hog roasts and over county fairs and fall hunting rituals. It’s all part of the culture when you live in farm country, USA.
When my spouse and I started dating, my son fell in love with her family’s farm. He hung out there with her nieces and nephews. They were all involved in 4H and so we got involved too. ‘The boy’ loved it. He raised a dairy market feeder calf one year but that was a difficult project for him because we had to keep the calf at the farm and we lived more than an hour away in the suburb of a major metro area. We relied a lot on the nieces and nephews to help out. In subsequent years, we raised chickens and turkeys right in our suburban garage in a poultry palace one of my nephews helped to build as part of a carpentry 4H project. One of our fondest memories of those times is the way the neighbors would all come out to gawk when we rolled the big pen out of the garage to clean it and let his turkeys wander around in the yard while we did it.
County Fair time was a fun time and it was a hard time. Kids don’t always do what they should do when they should do it. Animals almost never do what you want them to do or exactly what you hope they will. Couple those things with the constant watchful, vocal presence of members of P.E.T.A. and of the Humane Society of the United States (NOT to be confused with your local humane society) and you had a recipe for a little heartburn…sometimes a lot.
More than a few of my city living lesbian friends are vegetarians or vegan. They espouse the benefits of an all vegetable lifestyle. I get where they’re coming from. I just don’t happen to agree with them. Life in the big cities is quite a bit different than life in the small towns and tiny villages of the heartland. Food out here is as much about community as it is about nourishment. There’s less pretension and more shared spirit. Unexpected guests show up at dinner time? Grab a plate! There’s always room for one more.
‘Hitched and Tied‘ will be as much about county fairs, kids raising livestock and learning responsibility and about learning how to feed the world in subtext as it will be overtly about mystery and romance. Not a meat eater and can’t accept people who are in the subtext of a story? Maybe you should just skip this book…