Due to the drought, which both stressed cattle and reduced their price at the auctions, we and our rancher friends found ourselves with some young bulls, not in prime condition for sale, whose auction worth was less than the cost of hauling them there. So J-, the rancher, decided to fence off a bit of pasture near the house and feed them up a bit. Then, he thought, we could slaughter them one by one, do the butchery bit ourselves, and put the meat in our own freezers. You may wonder why the "we"--well, two of the cows over there are ours, and one of the young bulls is ours. We had four cows, but when J- reduced his herd because of drought, we also reduced ours, shipping out our oldest cow and one who'd lost a calf that year. We helped with the butchering of a heifer that had been injured and then used the ranch setting to slaughter and butcher several lambs. So three of us ( J-, husband, and I) are experienced at all this stuff. When this project became extremely likely, and having dealt with inferior equipment in the previous slaughter/butchery efforts (one heifer, injured, and several lambs) I invested in a proper meat saw large enough to handle beef, a proper power meat grinder, etc. Hand-grinding even a few pounds of meat is a lot of work, and there's no way my hands would cope with hundreds of pounds at a time.
I'm convinced that's penning the young stock is what brought on the torrential rains that started right after we got the six young fellers into the smaller enclosure. (I'm going to suggest that when the next drought hits, we immediately move a few head into the small enclosure and see if that brings on rain earlier.) The ranch has had more rain than we have (we're about 15 miles away) , like about a year's worth in two months, and now there's enough grass for every critter on the place. Except the bulls in the smaller enclosure. However, they've been gaining on supplemental feed, so it's time to do in the biggest of them.
This fellow is a bruiser, older than the others and probably tougher (but more flavorful.) Last I heard we were planning to slice-and-dice him into ground beef. Chunks would make good soup bones and possibly roasts, but at his age and condition, I'm thinking ground beef and stew meat are the best use. Luckily, I like making stew, curry, chili, and soups. I argued for hauling him to the nearest custom meat processor before hunting season (slack time for them) and then cutting him up ourselves, from quarters, but that didn't happen. So it's going to be a big job this Friday and Saturday, involving (besides Mr. Muscle) a tractor, hoist, knives, muck buckets (for the offal), more knives, the big meat saw, smaller saws for smaller jobs, the meat grinder, lots and lots of freezer bags, including specially made bags for ground beef, ice bags, and hours of work.
Unfortunately, we're not only into deer season, we're into holiday-music-rehearsal season, so while I'm free on Friday, I have rehearsal on Saturday (three hours, an hour away, so it's five hours out of my contribution to meat-cutting.) Husband and J- will have to take up the slack (which they're quite able to do, I'm sure, but I'm a worry-wart when it comes to meat handling in ranch conditions.