Norwegian Farmer’s Son…February 12th


Meat Butcher Shop Granny Old Woman Seller Retro Vintage Cartoon Character Icon on Stylish Background Design Vector Illustration

When they want meat to eat, the grand majority of Americans today will go to a grocery store and pay the man behind the counter for fancily wrapped meats to take home and feed their families.  It seems all rather stylish and fancy, in a way, yet it is a rather sterile experience to just have that pork chop magically appear and not realize the whole story of how it got there in the first place.    Not so for those of us blessed to live in the country on farms.  On our 120 acre farm, we raised our own meat, on the hoof (so to speak), and when it came time to fill our freezer with tasty steaks, hamburger, etc., we called our local butcher to bring his boom-crane truck to “put down” (kill) either a hog or cow to feed our family.

#39=Lowell with cow (circa 1960)
Big brother, Lowell, with one of our young Holstein heifers.

One thing that I will always be thankful for, growing up on our farm in southern Minnesota, is that I was granted the privilege to see the full spectrum and cycle of the life of our various animals, both big and small.   I was able to witness the birth of little kitties as well as piglets and calves, and then, to see them grow to maturity and live among us there on that rich land.  And yes, I was even there to witness the ending of our animal’s lives…..whether it was the sad incident of a dog run over by a neighbor’s tractor, or sickness/old age, or, in this case of the animal becoming food for our family table.

#936 Axel Challgren Family-Butcher Trade
Mr. Axel Challgren (on the left) had such a quiet demeanor and was always sensitive to any little children being around when he had to perform his business duty of butchering.

Our beloved mother, Clarice, always spoke so respectfully of the kindness and gentle nature of Axel Challgren and his family who ran “Challgren’s Lockers” in our hometown of Kiester, Minnesota.   I remember Mr. Challgren as a quiet man with a shy smile as he would arrive with his boom-crane truck on our farmyard.  Mom talked of Axel having a very tender heart towards children and how he wanted to spare little ones from the stark reality of what his job entailed.  In light of that mindset, Mr. Challgren always asked that children be sent away from the immediate area, so as not to have to witness the death of the animal and the necessary gutting and cutting procedures of the butchering process.

#68=Barn in Kiester, MN...looking SW
Elliott’s father, Russell, led a cow outside from the corner door of the family’s large red barn.  The slaughter and butchering of the cow took place where the wagon and straw bales are in this photo.

I vividly recall, that day, how Dad put a halter over the head of the cow selected for butchering and led her out of the NE corner door of our big red barn.  About 20 yards from the barn, Dad and the cow stopped near the butcher’s truck while Axel pulled his 22 caliber rifle from the front seat of his truck.  Axel then inserted a bullet into the chamber of the rifle and “closed the action”; he was now ready to do what had to be done.  Dad, wanting to honor Mr. Challgren’s wishes (regarding children being nearby during butchering), bade me to “go in to the house, Elliott”.  Reluctantly, I obeyed, but there was a wrestling inside of me because I had really wanted to stay and see what butchering was all about.

Being the sly little guy that I was, I reasoned, in my scheming mini-mind that Dad had said to “go in to the house”, he did NOT say that I couldn’t look through the kitchen windows OF the house to see what was going on down there near the barn.  So, as I watched from our kitchen window, that dear and quiet Mr. Challgren gently walked up to the front of the cow and placed the muzzle of that rifle right between her eyes and pulled the trigger……POW!!!!  The cow’s end was quick as a merciful blink as all four legs simultaneously buckled and down she went to the ground.  Now that the animal was dead, Axel went to the work of what a butcher does in creating various meats for our family, and extended family, to enjoy for months to come.

Having spent my first thirteen years of life on that farm, I came away with a deep respect for life, in general, and a gratefulness for God’s provision for us there on the farm.  We all knew the monetary price in feeding, raising, cleaning, nurturing and enjoying the life of all of our animals.  And, yes, we then had a solemn understanding of the “life” price of needing to take an animal’s life when it came to our family’s need for food.  As Ecclesiastes 3:2 says…..”There’s a time to be born, and a time to die”.   Thank you, Lord, for the farm life lessons learned by this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

Kiester, Minnesota’s fine butcher, Axel Challgren, in his young days (on the left in glasses) with his dear family.


5 thoughts on “Norwegian Farmer’s Son…February 12th

  1. Axel Challgren was my uncle. My dad Clair was Axel’s brother, my name is Jon Michael Challgren, I was born in 1948. I live in Southern California

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Jon, Thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to stop by here for a visit!!! I, and my whole family, had great respect for your Uncle Alex!! He had such a kind spirit about him. I take it you found the story about Axel coming out to our farm to do some butchering for us? He, in his gentle ways, wanted to spare children the stark reality of what butchering was, so often asked for children to step away until the “deed” was done. If you’re on Facebook, I would count it a joy to be friends with you there. Did you graduate High School in Kiester? Or California? You are two years younger than our late sister, Rosemary. She graduated in 1964 from Kiester High. Christmas blessings to you and your family and thanks again for the kindness in responding here!!! ;o) >


  2. Hi again, Elliott, reread this story for probably the 4th time. Axel was my uncle. You are so right about Axel, he was a gentle man. In the picture the little girl sitting is my mom, Irene Challgren Zeller. Your stories about Kiester never get old. Brings back good memories of my child hood. Thank you Elliott.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My dear and kind friend, Sharon,
      These are million dollar words to this old wannabe writer’s heart!!! Thanks EVER so much for brightening my day with how my story has touched you in a positive way!!! Kiester was, to me, like our very own “Waltons” or “Mayberry” and that was due to the fine folks, like your sweet Uncle Axel, who made up the fabric of our life in that darling place and village we all called HOME!!! I’m going to print out your kind words here and put them in my ‘Atta Boy’ file. I go there when I’m feeling low to realize that, at least some times, I do something good and right in this old world. Blessings always!!! > ;o)


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