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e_moon60

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Friday, Saturday... [Nov. 27th, 2010|06:35 pm]
e_moon60
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[Current Mood |accomplished]

Friday and Saturday--both gorgeous days with clear deep blue skies, brilliant sunshine, crisp air.   And a hard freeze in between.   Yes, we covered the roses.   Friday was spent largely in residual post-Thanksgiving cleaning up  and eating and taking our son back to his apartment (fighting the Black Friday shopping traffic both ways.)    Then came The Lamb.   (Stop here if discussion of home butchery squicks you.)

This is a lamb that had both behavioral and shape problems as a show lamb (belonging to a friend) and was destined for the freezer.   For both the lamb's sake and that of its owner (who had a lamb show to attend and no companion animal to stay with the unshowable lamb)  the owner wanted it to be "done" this weekend.   So this morning we killed and processed the lamb, much more efficiently than the previous times.  Practice, if it doesn't make perfect, makes better.   The shot to the head, the quick slice of the throat to drain the blood, the hanging up, etc., all went smoothly.  This is the first time we've done it in the particular place we used (more often we slaughter at Rancherfriend's ranch, since his barn has many useful toys, like the meat saw and big meat grinder) but it worked OK.   We have a portable stall out in the north horse lot and used that.

The weather could not have been better for the project: the cold (still a solid freeze when we started) kept the flies away and also chilled the carcass quickly.   But it was warming all the time, and--with no wind initially--quite comfortable working.  We put hay down on the blood, and went to work skinning, cleaning, and then (moving the carcass with a garden cart to the back yard, near a hose bib) washed it well and cut into the pieces we wanted.  I used a new knife I got for the kitchen and was amazed/delighted at how much better it worked than the knife I'd used on other lambs and cattle.   Husband started with an older knife (now approaching 40 years of regular use) and then used the other new one.   He broke a hacksaw blade sawing through the sternum. but had a second hacksaw out and ready.

The discarded portions had to be carted out to the place where we've left other discarded portions, and in the afternoon the black vultures and turkey vultures came to see what was on the menu. But it was chilling fast and they prefer to have thermals to get home on.  So tonight I expect the resident gray fox to be quite happy, but perhaps driven away by the non-resident-but-regularly-visiting coyote.  

As of now, all the equipment (pistol, knives, etc. ) has been cleaned, the clothes we were in have been washed as well,  and though we are stiff and sore (which we were when we started, for that matter)  we have the satisfaction of having done a difficult (for us, anyway) job well.   We're not wimpy old layabouts yet.  We have ideas to make it easier in that location next time (pulleys, for instance.   A new knife sharpener.  Etc.)  but by golly we can still butcher a lamb. 

 
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: draconin
2010-11-28 02:24 am (UTC)
I haven't done so in many, many years but I still remember helping my father butcher the sheep every month or so on the farm where I grew up (city boy now!). With Australian heat (and flies!) it was a bit of a rush job to get it all carved and into cold storage.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-11-28 03:07 am (UTC)
My very first experience was Nameless Heifer. It was well over 100 degrees F, and we were rushing like anything--just sliced off meaty chunks which I ran into the house to put in the fridge to begin cooling so they could go in the freezer without bringing the freezer temp up too high to do any good.

I heard that at one time in Australia they had people with refrigerated trucks (vans?) like big meat coolers in custom meat processing plants, that could go from place to place, so people who didn't have the facilities themselves could have some help putting up meat, and then have it chilled down. I don't think someone'd need that for a lamb, but it would've been a big help with last fall's 2000 pound bull.
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[User Picture]From: draconin
2010-11-28 03:19 am (UTC)
I don't remember such a truck but since we left the farm life when I was only nine (in the late 60's) it's probably not something I would have been aware of. Certainly Dad did all his own. With "help" from me. We weren't on a large farm - just 100 acres or so on the edge of town and Dad was the local traffic inspector/health inspector/etc for the town council. We just had orchards and ran a flock of sheep, a few cows, lots of poultry for food and, as I recall, generally butchered sheep rather than lambs. But I may simply be looking back through too many years and not recalling correctly.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-11-28 03:38 am (UTC)
I think I remember that it was something for remote areas, so probably larger acreages.

I've been on a few ranches here that had a true walk-in cold locker. (In my dreams I have a walk-in cold locker, a walk-in pantry for food, a pantry between kitchen and dining room that holds ALL the stuff for entertaining, a dining room that seats 30 at need...but of course at that point I need Staff. We had a someone trained as a butler visit with other friends one Tnanksgiving, and I developed a very undemocratic desire for Staff. Especially ones who can make cheap paper napkins look like flowers, and perfectly carve a turkey faster than I can carve one badly.)

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[User Picture]From: draconin
2010-11-28 04:31 am (UTC)
Although I never felt poor when I was young, I think looking back that we were not very well off at that time and any thoughts of a cold storage locker would have been complete pipe dreams.

I've been trying to remember the times I visited friends' farms - I don't recall there being cold lockers, although most places had very large horizontal chest freezers. Usually multiple. I think the general way was to simply load the cattle up on trucks and send them off to the abattoir. The size of farms here is generally such that you'd not consider doing it yourself except for those one or two head you kept back for your own pantry.

Remember, this is the country where you get farms as large as states in the US! *g* Yes, I exaggerate but still, there's a grain of truth. One of my students last year came from a huge cattle station (="ranch") in the north of W.Aust. It has a town for the workers and I seem to recall her saying that it was well over 5000km2. The only way in and out was by air.

I don't know about this Staff idea! I like my solitude really - although it might be nice to have someone to do "those jobs" that you never want to, the thought of sharing my house with a multitude fills me with horror. Besides, isn't the fun in learning to fold the flower napkins yourself? *g*
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[User Picture]From: made_of_paradox
2010-11-28 11:03 pm (UTC)
As Rhode Island is on the order of 3000 km2, there are probably at least several grains of truth there.

I'd want my Staff to be live-out if I had any.
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[User Picture]From: freyaw
2010-11-28 07:33 am (UTC)
There are still small butchers (albeit not many of them) who run mobile slaughtering businesses around here. You have to rent the mobile coolroom where the meat is hung, but the butcher brings the processing equipment (knives, saws, etc) they like to use with them.

I have meat in my freezer from a hairy coo (Highland cattle meat is taaaasty) slaughtered this way.
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