EXPERIENCE in carpenter work need not be extensive in order to build an open-front poultry house. Anyone who has any aptness for learning how to handle tools can soon master the essentials of house building—and will not find the work of construction very difficult.

Right here, in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, two city girls have started in the “poultry business and are making a success of it. They had had no experience with poultry or in carpenter work, but they determined to build their own poultry houses and they did it and did it well. If two inexperienced city girls can frame, board in, and shingle a building and make a good job of it, others can certainly learn to do it and the man or well grown boy who thinks that he can’t, ought to brace up and try.

Prince T. Woods, M.D., Open Air Poultry Houses For All Climates, p.31.

But even more difficult, our age’s individualism greatly decreases a farm’s chance of long-term success. In historical America, the farm was a family-run enterprise. It was more of a generational lifestyle than a “full-time job.” Land was a highly coveted commodity, and a farmer’s children were expected to carry on the work after their father or mother was too tired or old to continue.

But today, children are no longer expected—nor are they usually encouraged—to follow in their parents’ footsteps. Children are not, modernism tells us, to be saddled with the burdens of their forbears. What does this mean for modern farmers? Simply that, unless one of their children takes a liking to the tedium of farm work, today’s agrarians are on their own. They must conjure up a successful, fruitful farm in their few decades of limber life, or else content themselves with a frugal, arduous future.

Gracy Olmstead, “Plowing it Alone: The Difficulties of Farming in the Modern Age" at the American Conservative.

Just before butchering.

Just before butchering.



Crites Seed Co. Moscow, ID, August 2013


A non-satirical article about the engineering behind the Taco Bell Doritos Locos Taco, one of the most successful satires of food ever unleashed on the masochists who eat at these f***ing places.
Some quotes:

"So we had to get that formula changed, then we had to find a way to deliver the flavoring, and then the seasoning. I mean, it was actually important that we left the orange dusting on your fingers because otherwise, we’re not delivering the genuine Doritos [experience]."


He gave his staff until March 2012—slightly under three years—to pull off a complete rethink of traditional Mexican cuisine.


In fact, the companies ended up creating a proprietary seasoner in the process, not least because for workers on the manufacturing line, the plumes of Doritos seasoning would create an almost Nacho Cheese gas chamber. “We realized pretty quickly that we had to seal that all in, because in the facilities, we couldn’t have all that stuff in the air,” Creed says. “It would’ve been too much seasoning and flavor for our workers…


Customers began blogging about their experience; a slew of video reviews hit YouTube; and one Taco Bell addict even drove 900 miles from New York to Toledo, OH for an early taste of the DLT.


Like Android is to Google or iOS is to Apple, Doritos-based flavors represent a whole new framework for Taco Bell to build on. “It’s not just a product; it’s now a platform—Nacho Cheese, Cool Ranch, Flamas,” Creed beams. “We’re going to blow everyone away in the next few years in terms of how big this idea and platform will become.”

A non-satirical article about the engineering behind the Taco Bell Doritos Locos Taco, one of the most successful satires of food ever unleashed on the masochists who eat at these f***ing places.

Some quotes:

"So we had to get that formula changed, then we had to find a way to deliver the flavoring, and then the seasoning. I mean, it was actually important that we left the orange dusting on your fingers because otherwise, we’re not delivering the genuine Doritos [experience]."
He gave his staff until March 2012—slightly under three years—to pull off a complete rethink of traditional Mexican cuisine.
In fact, the companies ended up creating a proprietary seasoner in the process, not least because for workers on the manufacturing line, the plumes of Doritos seasoning would create an almost Nacho Cheese gas chamber. “We realized pretty quickly that we had to seal that all in, because in the facilities, we couldn’t have all that stuff in the air,” Creed says. “It would’ve been too much seasoning and flavor for our workers…
Customers began blogging about their experience; a slew of video reviews hit YouTube; and one Taco Bell addict even drove 900 miles from New York to Toledo, OH for an early taste of the DLT.
Like Android is to Google or iOS is to Apple, Doritos-based flavors represent a whole new framework for Taco Bell to build on. “It’s not just a product; it’s now a platform—Nacho Cheese, Cool Ranch, Flamas,” Creed beams. “We’re going to blow everyone away in the next few years in terms of how big this idea and platform will become.”

It happened one day when we was coming on to some holy feast or other. I was in the kitchen yard helping cut up a pig they’d slaughtered for it the day before. I’d been there for the slaughtering as well, catching the blood in a pail for black pudding when they shoved a knife in its throat and helping drag it over to the pile of straw where they got twists for singeing off the bristle. We poured water on the carcase and scraped it and singed it again and finally with a gambrel between the hind legs hoisted it up to a crossbeam. Then a monk with yellow braids sliced open its belly and groping around up to his elbows delivered it of a steaming tubful of pink slippery insides I carted off to the kitchen in my two arms. They left it hanging overnight to cool with a sack wrapped around its long snout to keep the cats from it and the next day after matins the yellow-braid monk and I set to cutting it up, Ita being at her quern across the yard from us. Hams, trotters, eyepieces, ears for making brawn with, brains, chops—we was laying it all out in the straw when Ita come over and drew me aside to where we kept a black stone on the wall for whetting. She told me with Jarlath’s leave she wanted me to go with Brendan though she didn’t so much as know my name then.
“It’s a smirchy sort of business you’re at with that pig, some would say,” she said. “There’s many a monkish boy either he’d beg out of it or turn green as a toad doing it. But it’s neither of those with you, I see. You could be laying the holy table for mass the way you set those cuttings out. That’s the deep truth of things no matter or not if you know it.”
Ita’s eyes disappeared entirely when she smiled.
“Smirchy and holy is all one, my dear,” she said. “I doubt Jarlath has taught you that. Monks think holiness is monkishness only. But somewheres you’ve learned the truth anyhow. You can squeeze into Heaven reeking of pig blood as well as clad in the whitest fair linen in the land.”

From Frederick Buechner, Brendan, pages 34-35.

Smirchy and holy is all one, my dear.


I think that industrial livestock processing is, like all technology, a kind of magic. Peasant meatsmiths, on the other hand, worked miracles, not sleight of hand. Rather than turn pigs into pork at an astonishing rate and in unfathomable quantity, they multiplied fishes and loaves and this feeds more people with less and more deeply.
Brandon Sheard, the Farmstead Meatsmith, putting into words a thought I’ve had banging around my head for some time. The Bible speaks of magic and sorcery as a kind of counterfeit miracle: the appearance of something arriving ex nihilo that disguises a considerable material and spiritual cost. Modern industrialism, agricultural and otherwise, is a kind of sorcery. But miracles take that same material and spiritual burden and make something new and good out of that raw material. That butchering your own pig fits that definition of miraculous will take more defending than I have time for here, but I will say that when I butchered my hog last October, we took up twelve large baskets full of fragments and scarcely had the space to store it all.

There’s a sweet spot on a rifle trigger where just an ounce more of pressure will fire it. There I held my finger, waiting for my shot. Twice, and then three times, the barrow paused, almost at the right angle but never quite. A fourth time, and he paced again. I grit my teeth and snorted, tense and rigid. He circled around the pen again and barely glanced at me.

Into the muddle of “dammits!” and “stand stills!” in my head, I fit a prayer for his swift death, then exhaled slowly. On his next circuit, he paused a fifth time, the spot just twelve inches from the muzzle, my eyes on it, his eyes on me. I gave the trigger that one more ounce.

In a thousandth of a second: he jerked his head as if startled by the pop; a black hole appeared on the bridge of his snout; he screamed and rammed the fence by Rusty, shoving his snout underneath the wire and lifting the entire panel.

Me, in a piece I had titled “One Shot”, but now called “Dispatch from Idaho: Shooting the Hog" over at Curator Magazine.

From The Hater’s Guide to the Williams-Sonoma Catalog: 
Item #02-6818686 Waffle batter dispenser
Williams-Sonoma says: ”Measures out uniform circles in three sizes.”
Price: $29.95
Notes from Drew: How about a spoon? How about you use a fucking spoon to dole out your waffle batter? The waffle iron itself tells you when it’s had enough batter. If you overload it because you’re a fat greedy pig, the batter spills off the side. You don’t need a dispenser. OH BUT HOW WILL I KNOW I’VE USED THE EXACT RIGHT AMOUNT OF BATTER?! Now this waffle will never fit in my grain sack!

From The Hater’s Guide to the Williams-Sonoma Catalog

Item #02-6818686 Waffle batter dispenser

Williams-Sonoma says: ”Measures out uniform circles in three sizes.”

Price: $29.95

Notes from Drew: How about a spoon? How about you use a fucking spoon to dole out your waffle batter? The waffle iron itself tells you when it’s had enough batter. If you overload it because you’re a fat greedy pig, the batter spills off the side. You don’t need a dispenser. OH BUT HOW WILL I KNOW I’VE USED THE EXACT RIGHT AMOUNT OF BATTER?! Now this waffle will never fit in my grain sack!