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Callicrate's 'missing link'

Forget your stupid reality TV. "This is the real deal; proceed with caution if you feel squeamish," warns this week's Ranch Foods Direct ( newsletter.

Why? Because Ranch Foods head Mike Callicrate is providing a free, live slaughter demonstration between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., Friday, Nov. 12, at Venetucci Farm (5210 S. U.S. Hwy. 85). If you desire, you can view it all, skinning to carcass-splitting.

Assuming you still have an appetite, you can also enjoy a free hamburger lunch (not from the same animals killed that day).

Callicrate aims to educate on a new, self-contained mobile slaughter unit that he's helped design, which he argues is "a critical missing link across the country for farmers and ranchers to be able to connect with local consumers."

He cites several benefits of bringing the slaughter facility to the farm versus shipping animals to slaughterhouses:

• The units are more affordable and "less risky" than brick-and-mortar outfits; $163,000 in this case, compared to millions.

• Slaughtering on the ranch reduces stress on the animals, avoids "shrink" (weight lost in transit due to dehydration) and improves the overall quality of the meat.

• Ranchers save on shipping costs by transporting carcasses rather than live animals. Also, when ranchers connect and sell directly to the public, they can make more money — up to five times more, according to a Pueblo-area farmer in a recent Colorado Public Radio segment.

Callicrate plans to buy two of these units for use in the Arkansas Valley and eastern and southwestern Colorado, after he installs one on his land in St. Francis, Kan. He believes combining this mobile element with the "cut-and-wrap facilities with retail markets, like I have here in the Springs, will step it up to a much more beneficial model."

À la carte

• The Margarita at PineCreek (7350 Pine Creek Road, 598-8667) has a new à la carte menu in its lounge, featuring items like winter squash pierogies and clam chowder pot pie. Four-course Sunday suppers for $27 resume Nov. 21, and the third installment of the outfit's Spice Route Wine Dinners (six courses with wine, $55 plus tax/tip) will take place at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 8, with a look at the cinnamon route from Persia to South Africa to Indonesia.

• Congrats to the brewers at Rocky Mountain Brewing (625 Paonia St.,, who at this past weekend's All Colorado Beer Festival earned the Favorite Brewer Award (a people's choice nod) at both tasting sessions. Though they also served an IPA, stout and gluten-free raspberry cider, drinkers were most enthusiastic about their Eat a Peach and Da Yoopers Cherry Pie fruit beers. Both are super-fruit-forward, made with real fruit for a natural flavor. The Cherry Pie also won a gold medal at this year's World Beer Cup.

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