Cookhouse Etiquette

When you stop for a meal at a cookhouse, don’t worry, you’ll quickly learn the do’s and don’ts. As you walk into the long narrow room, you will see a dining table that easily fits 20 people. To your left, there is a kitchen with a large commercial stove. Above on the exhaust hood, a bumper sticker reads, “Beef, It’s What’s For Dinner.” The cook peers over the sink, sipping her coffee as you head in for breakfast. After spending quite a bit of time around a cookhouse table, I have gathered the following to be etiquette. Heck, I think I might start making a few of these laws around my house, especially #8. 

  1. No work-y, no eat-y – if you aren’t working, you aren’t eating. This rule is stretched for only good friends and bankers. (Just kidding, sometimes they too get signed up to ride along and open a few gates.)
  2. Don’t show up with guests that the cook doesn’t know about (especially during haying season).
  3. If the cook is counting on you, show up.
  4. Clear your flatware, plate and cup that you used during the meal before you leave.
  5. Don’t take more than you can eat. (As a little one, I learned quickly that my great-uncle Davey was my garbage disposal for all things I didn’t like or couldn’t finish. When I was done, I would just slide things over to his plate and he would gladly finish them for me. What a guy!) 
  6. Make sure everyone has enough before you go for seconds.
  7. Don’t make special dietary requests unless you plan on sticking around for a while.
  8. Be sure to tell the cook, “Thank you!”
  9. Tell the cook when you like something that they make.
  10. Take your hat and coat off.
  11. Don’t wear your spurs or chinks in.
  12. Wash your hands before you sit down to eat.
  13. Show up on time, a little earlier is better than later.
  14. Stick around and listen to the stories being told, you might learn something. You never know when the person sitting in that chair might not be there anymore.

If you know someone that still runs a cookhouse, tell them you’d like to come by for a meal. It’s a rarity nowadays, but it’s a tradition that they are probably proud to hold onto and it is certainly a memorable experience! Don’t be shy, a table full of hungry working men are not as frightening as they might seem.

  1. Jorden says:

    How much do you charger typically for 1/2 half beef? Or is it’s a 1/2 cow. Sorry I’m new to asking about this lol!

    • Gabriella Nevin says:

      Hi Jorden, the price varies depending on the market value and the price of grain at the time. Please reach out to me on Instagram if you are on there. Currently, I am looking at $5.40/lb. hanging weight and you’d pay the butcher for cut and wrap. I am waiting to hear back the price per lb. for cut and wrap, but I am planning on it being $0.89/lb. or less. A half a beef could be anywhere from 341-372 lbs. I look forward to hearing if you are interested in purchasing! We are just getting started in this direct to consumer side and we are really excited about it. In the past, we have always just sold our calves to someone who backgrounds them or a feeder.

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