I don't think I can put to words how this feels. First acknowledging the burst of sadness whenever you process an animal that you have spent so much time with - we have had these cows since they were calves and getting attached is normal and expected.
Even though it is never easy to butcher animals you have personally raised, knowing exactly what care these animals have had, what they have eaten, how they were handled and appreciated, brings a deep satisfaction and pride of accomplishment.
Beef is a HUGE step - a long time investment of care, chores and feed. With this step we will no longer be buying beef in the store - beef we know nothing about, how it was cared for, what it was fed, what hormones it may have been given, or even where it came from.
When we sit down to our first meal of our own farm-raised beef, we will not only be feeling the satisfaction of accomplishment, but also a deep gratitude for the animals that provided for our family.