This isn’t really a story that I want to share… but I think it’s one that needs to be put out there.
I recently had an episode with a butcher that has led me into an area of discussion that I never thought I’d have. I’m ashamed that I dropped the ball this badly. The following is a real situation that I found myself in.
Back in July, I had some give me an referral about a butcher shop, named Dottie Lou’s, located in Stevensville, PA. The shop is an hour drive time plus away but since I had been searching for a couple of years for a good USDA butcher, I thought I would give them a call.
When I called, the first thing I asked was if they were USDA certified. A quick response of “Yes” and I gave them my trust, booked an appointment and the next day, started thinking about the hot dogs I was going to be getting.
My appointment was booked for the week before Labor Day. Upon arrival, we held a discussion with Vincent the butcher/owner and he expressed that he would have our meat ready for pick up for the holiday weekend. Since the majority of meat would be hamburger and hotdogs, none of us thought a hanging time was really needed. We also picked up sample hot dogs from their front counter, along with some beef sticks as samples to test out. Which were really good.
Saturday of Labor Day weekend rolls around, still no phone call. Upon calling down, we were told they hadn’t gotten to it yet but they would on Wednesday. Understandable, but a simple call would have been nice. I let it go, trying to be understanding and accommodating.
Wednesday comes. I decided to call down, set up a time that would be good to talk to the butcher about some other products I would like done and to have him answer a few questions I had about things like emergency cases with animals that randomly turn aggressive or a down cow with a broken leg kind of thing. I even asked if the meat was ready. “Yup. And you can come anytime before 2 pm to discuss your questions” Great! I made arrangements for the following morning and off I went.
I arrived with my list of questions and we started going through the list. When I came to the question about what the extra charge was for individual wrapped beef sticks, an odd expression crossed his face and he proceeded to inform me that I couldn’t resale anything they did.
“Why the hell not??” I asked. “Because all of your packages are marked not for sale.”
“Why would you do that? Was there something wrong with the meat?” Came the next questions. The response left me very angry and speechless, “Nothing wrong with the meat.”
“Well, then why wouldn’t it be USDA certified?” I asked. “We only do USDA slaughter here, so we aren’t a USDA butcher shop.”
None of this made any sense to me. After more questions, a few choice swear words on my part, I loaded up my not for sale steaks and hamburger. All 99 pounds of burger, which they didn’t even offer to help me load. They just wheeled it out into the sun and left it there.
On the way home, the reality of my own screw ups hit me and I realized that I had just cost the farm around $2500 of income for advancements. (I’ll explain more on that below) Even worse, I didn’t even have all of my meat because the hot dogs weren’t even done, after I had confirmed the whole order was ready for pick up the day before!
Thinking about going back made me feel ill. They said they would call when the rest was done. They didn’t. I had to call Sunday morning, again, to make the hour long drive to their shop for the third time now.
The last remaining was picked up yesterday. To say I’m disappointed is an understatement. I requested that everything other than the steaks be divided in half. 230 pounds was split as follows: 99 lbs of burger and 130 lbs of hot dogs. I asked for 1 pound packages, they range from just over 2 lbs to 3 lbs. The “samples” we had are nothing like what was picked up. The samples were 8 dogs/lb., we got 5 dogs per pound. Color and taste were dramatically different.
So now here I sit, with 130 pounds of jumbo hot dogs (that I really don’t care for) and an investment of $1.75 pound and a grand total of a $532 butcher bill for good I can’t even sell!!!
Upon further investigation, these people are NOT even registered as a USDA slaughter facility either! So now I’ve lost $2,500 in income and lost another $532 in processing fees. That doesn’t count my gas or my time.
I will NEVER go back and unfortunately for the next butchers, they will be forced to allow a tour, give me real samples and will be providing me with all of their USDA numbers so I can vet them properly. I will be writing a follow up post on what to ask your butcher and give some ideas on things to look for over the next couple of days.
Chalk it up as a hard lesson learned and blame it on me for not properly doing my job for the interview process too. That income was to go toward a new barn for winter cattle housing. Now I’m not sure what will happen, we needed that income to invest.
*I also want to note that every extra dime is put into advancements to build the farm. No one that has a part of this farm has ever received a “paycheck”. We do this for the future, knowing that the hard work and dedication to that growth will eventually provide. It’s a hard and bitter pill to swallow when things like this happen.
The sharing and advise is handed out for free because I don’t want to see anyone else I go through happen to them. Education is the key to success, we all mess up but by sharing openly, this could save someone else the heartbreak I feel right now.