DICK THE BUTCHER – photography by Stacy Kranitz

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


About Jay Babcock

I am the co-founder and editor of Arthur Magazine (2002-2008, 2012-13) and curator of the three Arthur music festival events (Arthurfest, ArthurBall, and Arthur Nights) (2005-6). Prior to that I was a district office staffer for Congressman Henry A. Waxman, a DJ at Silver Lake pirate radio station KBLT, a copy editor at Larry Flynt Publications, an editor at Mean magazine, and a freelance journalist contributing work to LAWeekly, Mojo, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Vibe, Rap Pages and many other print and online outlets. An extended piece I wrote on Fela Kuti was selected for the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2000 anthology. In 2006, I was one of five Angelenos listed in the Music section of Los Angeles Magazine's annual "Power" issue. In 2007-8, I produced a blog called "Nature Trumps," about the L.A. River. Today, I live a peaceful life in the rural wilderness of Joshua Tree, California, where I am a partner in JTHomesteader.com with Stephanie Smith.
This entry was posted in bison, humans, North Joshua Tree and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to DICK THE BUTCHER – photography by Stacy Kranitz

  1. Chris Goss says:

    Dear Jay, First, thanx for spreading the word about Dick the butcher. And I gotta say, your writing style between the pics is concise in such a friendly manner that is really quite fascinating. Like Hemingway doing a kid’s book. Nice one.

  2. Douglas A. Buckley says:

    And his meats are the best around.He is a true gem and a lot a fun to visit.

  3. Nancy says:

    Beautiful photos and writing and a great reminder of how horrific and macabre it is to eat our furry friends!

  4. Nancy says:

    …granted it’s better that they are roaming around happy eating organic vittles before they are slaughtered but still… yikes!

  5. Jill Giegerich says:

    Great piece on Dick! We started buying our meat from him because of the savage way that animals are treated by Big Business meat industry. If you are going to eat meat, this is the way to do it.

  6. fred saal says:

    I like this guy,,has a heart of gold,,,

  7. Bobby Furst says:

    Great story, thanks for posting !

  8. Pingback: DICK THE BUTCHER NEEDS A (PAID) APPRENTICE…NOW | Learning to Live Here

  9. Pingback: DICK THE BUTCHER NEEDS A (PAID) APPRENTICE…NOW | Defend Joshua Tree

  10. Jason Winter says:

    Gotta go meet Dick!! Thx for the post!!

  11. Pingback: RURAL RESOURCES | Learning to Live Here

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