Dick the Butcher (real name: Dick DeRidder) is 73 years old. He’s been butchering since he was 12. He keeps cattle, pigs, bison and other animals on his ten-acre ranch in Joshua Tree.
Dick grew up in Chicago. He quit school at age 9, doesn’t read or write. He can recognize numbers and do calculations in his head; if he needs to read something, he has somebody else read it to him.
Dick has a prodigious memory but has difficulty remembering names. Since he doesn’t read or write, he takes photographs of people he interacts with regularly, then writes their phone number under their picture.
Dick butchers his own animals, as well as doing rendering jobs for other local ranchers. He feeds his own animals a strictly organic diet, which he says makes them happier, healthier and makes for much better meat.
One of his butchering customers was feeding her pigs a diet that Dick didn’t think much of. When he butchered her pig, he hung it next to one of his own for her to compare.
Besides ranching, butchering and smoking meat, Dick repairs vehicles and welds tools.
He also maintains a large, ever-growing, organized collection of spare parts that takes up a whole cargo container.
Dick lives with his wife, Cheri. Both use scooters to get around their property.
Dick and Cheri’s living room. Note the partially viewable photograph up above Dick’s head: that’s him in his motorcycle riding days. He used to chop Harleys when he lived in Bellflower.
Dick and Cheri have several dogs as guards and companions.
And this is where you can find them.
Photography: Stacy Kranitz / stacykranitzprojects.com
Text: Jay Babcock / jaywbabcock.blogspot.com