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What do a Meat Plant and A Pirate Ship Have in Common?

Updated: Apr 18, 2021

Hey there!


I can tell that lot's of people have their curiosity piqued when I tell them that I work at the USDA Meat Processing Plant in Laramie- 307 Meat Company. Maybe you have too?


Most people ask me, "what is it like to work in a meat plant?"


I have even been asked if it's horrifying!


Well, I wouldn't call it horrifying, but it has been quite a unique experience so far.


The end of this month will conclude 8 months working at 307 Meat Company Part time and boy have I learned a lot in these past few months!


The best (and most fun) way I can describe it is to liken it to what I think working on a Pirate Ship would be like.


So, here is a day in the life of a 307 Meat Company Crew Member:


I start my day at the plant around 2:30 in the afternoon usually; it is my job to swab the decks. I manage a crew of 3 to 6 and it is our responsibility to clean the entire facility and get it ready for the next day of operation.





In a USDA Plant everything revolves around inspection. There is an inspector (or should I say Boatswain?) on site during all operations and it is her job to make sure everything is up to USDA specifications. This includes animal handling methods, refrigeration temps, plant cleanliness, record keeping, food safety, employee safety and practices, and more. It is a truly expansive list of what the inspector is looking out for to keep the ship on the right course and in operating shape at all times.





Now Kelcey Christensen is the Captain. He is the main owner of the business and the guy who spearheaded the building of this ship. He even grew his beard out from the start of the project to the completion, and I have been tempted to call him Blackbeard at times...


The entire 307 crew consists of 5 main groups, kill floor, cutting table, sausage and curing, packaging, retail, and cleaning crew. Each group has a Quartermaster who ensures their part of the ship runs smoothly and completely. My position would fall under this category.


What most folks see when they visit 307 Meat Company is what I like to think of as the Galley, with Nick- the ship cook. My stomach grumbles when I walk into the plant and it is just filled with the sweet and savory smells wafting in from the retail store. ARGH!!!!!




Nick is always whipping up some unique sausage flavors or cooking kits for customers to take home and enjoy. I love stopping in the retail store to give the retail crew members a hard time and to buy a little something here or there. It feels good to support other local producers buy purchasing meat from 307 Meat Co. This is also one of the storefront locations where we sell our eggs!




All the crew members can get loud and rowdy at times. It's part of working in a place where loud equipment and refrigeration units are buzzing, whirring, clicking, whining, squealing, and whooshing all day. you have to yell if you want to be heard and from an outside perspective it probably sounds like we are all about ready to brawl any second, but it's just playful chatter most of the time. Sounds like pirate crew banter to me, and it makes me smile.





We even have gold doubloons! The metal markers used to designate different bellies and hams when they go into the smoker look like gold coins with numbers on them. Every week it is my job to remove all the grease and polish these gold coins up nice and shiny. There's nothing a pirate enjoys more than polishing his treasure right?


As for my job specifically, it is pretty cold and wet. It is a very physical job with lots of lifting, climbing, standing, and squatting. There has been many a time I imagine myself scraping barnacles off the side of our tin-sided ship. I can feel the splashing of the waves on my face, oh wait, that's just a fellow crew member who just missed a piece of equipment with their hose water!





Over time it has become easier to navigate the maze of machinery and keep my footing on the slippery wet floors coated in fat. I feel almost like a pirate gaining his sea legs on a constantly tipping deck. And, I have gained a deep appreciation for the sparkle of the room at the end of our shift.





Ahhhhhh, another day on the sea of local food, finished. I wonder how many people will be fed tomorrow...


If you ever want to see 307 Meat Company yourself you can visit and ask for a tour anytime. Don't forget to stop in their retail store and check out all the awesome locally-raised products they have available for purchase.




Don't live in or near Laramie? Well you are in luck! I created a quick virtual tour of the facility after the crew finished cleaning it here:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ND9UADgWkLQ&t=27s


Enjoy!


-BJ

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