By JANET KEHRES
Daily Globe Correspondent
SHELBY - When Tim Johnson was at Shelby High School and attended Pioneer Career & Technology Center he thought about agriculture. He worked for Dawson's Dairy Farm and enjoyed working for the Dawsons.
He was in Don Heffelfinger's “Meat Processing” program at PCTC. Johnson stated he had lots of fun and learned a lot in Heffelfinger's classes. Heffelfinger showed his students how to enjoy meat processing and often would cook some of the meat the students would process to help them learn about the end process. Johnson remembers Heffelfinger teased his students that they would have to be good workers if they ever wanted to work for his nephew's meat market. Johnson has worked for Heffelfinger's nephews meat market for the last 20 years.
Johnson considered going to college to major in Vocational Agriculture, but did not like the idea of going into debt. Meat processing was his back-up plan in case he did not make it to college. He has found that he enjoys meat processing and pride of doing a job well done. He also loves working for his employer who treats him like family. He commented he didn't think anyone could treat him more fairly than his employer. The family atmosphere is great.
Family is important to Johnson. He lost his youngest brother a couple of years ago and misses their adventures with trap shooting. He enjoys being around his family.
During Johnson's student years he was involved in several meat judging contests. He competed on the district level his senior year and loved the competition.
Johnson said he learned butchers cut, trim, and process a variety of meat, poultry, and fish for retail sale. This can include grinding meat for sausage, slicing deli meat, cutting and shaping meats from larger wholesale sized pieces to specific weights, and packaging and labeling meats meant for display to the consumer. On top of actually cutting and preparing meat, a butcher is also responsible for maintaining all equipment, sharpening knifes, monitoring inventory, and tracking the freshness of meat.
A typical day for Johnson would be: slaughter the animal, remove skin, gut it, split it, hang it and trim off unwanted fat. Next he washes the hanging meat, inspects it, sprays anti-microbe (to prevent E.coli) and then lots of paperwork. The paperwork consists of a kill sheet, what has been slaughtered and what will need to be slaughtered for the day, who will get the meat, and how they would like the meat divided and packaged. Every 20 hogs, lambs, goats and poultry must be monitored and logged. Next he checks the equipment to make sure all is clean and sanitized and logs whether it is or not. If it is not, the equipment must be re-done. Human safety is the top of the list at all meat markets.
Johnson loves fair season. He likes to see all the fair animals and compare the difference in how the livestock was raised. Everyone has their own way regarding raising livestock. An example of what he looks for is the muscle and how lean the animal is in live weight. It reminds him of high school days when he participated in meat judging contests.
Fred Cooke, Johnson's Vocational Agriculture teacher in high school inspired him to join the Farm Bureau of Richland County because he knew Johnson's work ethics and interests in livestock. Johnson is a 10 year member of the farm bureau, serving on the board four years, and the President of the group two years. He is excited about attending the state annual farm bureau meeting in Columbus this year. Johnson is impressed with the farm bureau policies and procedures and because it advocates for agriculture rights.
His recreational time is spent camping, hunting, fishing, watching OSU football and spending time with his nephews and the donkeys.
Johnson gives his mother credit for his hard working ethic. He said she works hard on a daily basis, even though she is battling cancer and lost a leg from a previous ailment.
Tim is a “stand-out” in his community and many people care about this young man who has pride in everything that he does.