Increased demand for fresh, local food persuaded two Lexington families to reopen a meat-processing facility that will help small farmers and customers alike.
LEXINGTON — Steve Donald was a high school senior when his father decided it was time to fully initiate him in the family business.
“I came home from school, and my father looked at my brother, Rick, and I and said, ‘There’s four cattle down in the pen. Go butcher them on your own.’”
It was daunting, but Donald and his five brothers and sisters had grown up around farming — and slaughtering.
Their grandfather opened Donald’s Slaughterhouse in Lexington in the 1930s, and their father, Bill, took over the business when he left the military in the early 1950s. As long as they were old enough, helping out at the plant was a regular occurrence for the Donald kids.
But by 1988, Bill Donald was suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and the custom slaughtering business seemed to be dying out.
The plant was shuttered, and neither Steve nor Tim Donald thought they would ever see it reopen. Then the local food movement, and a very persuasive farmer, came along.
To continue reading this story I wrote for today’s Extra section of The Roanoke Times, click here.