Monday, October 21, 2013

The Boy Gets Messy

 **Graphic images will follow.**

Plans changed again.  We will have beef this winter.  Perhaps a lot of it.
Sharlotte is making her way to the freezer.

We had initially planned to keep her for future breeding stalk.  She was, after all, the first girl born here on our farm.  However, if you recall, there was some confusion about her birth.  We really don't know who her mother was, Mindy or Dorie.

So, we had a long summer filled with fence repair after fence repair, and we nearly put Mindy in the freezer, because we just could not keep her contained.  And then she calved, buying herself a reprieve.  She still gets out from time to time, though not nearly as often as she used to.  We debated making Mugsy a bottle baby, and butchering Mindy anyway.

But here's the thing- When we got Dorie, she escaped a couple of times.  She went looking for a bull.  She got out a couple of times in the spring when the grass was still short.  We had to trailer her home from a far neighbour's place twice.  And then she calved.  And then she pretty much stayed put.  She was out once, with Majesty and the whole herd this summer, but mostly, so long as she has her calf, her bull, and plenty to eat, she's a good girl.

We bought Mindy and Maddy as yearlings.  They escaped with Dorie a couple of times.  Once they got separated in the woods and Mindy came home on her own.  Maddy went to northern neighbour's with Dorie and spent the summer there.  We ended up trading her for stud fees and summer boarding.  It turned out to be an excellent trade for us.  Dorie came home and delivered Casper the following summer.  Maddy stayed there and stopped growing, and never calved.  Northern neighbour sent her to butcher two years later.

Maddy and Mindy almost definitely came from the same farm.  We waited years for Mindy to calve, breaking fences repeatedly along the way.  If we were real farmers, she would have been out of here long ago.

So, there is a possibility that Sharlotte was Mindy's calf.  Sharlotte is small in stature.  Of course it doesn't help that her daddy (Steaks) was kind of a runt either.  Sharlotte was breaking through the fence all the time.  Our fences do not hold goats or calves- uneven ground, so many weak points- so we were playing a waiting game.  Waiting for her to get too big to squeeze through the bad spots.  However, every time she squeezed through the bad spots, she made the weak points weaker.  She made the small holes bigger.  She stretched the wire looser.  And then Mindy or Nelly would follow her out.  She never really went anywhere on her own, just around the non fenced portion of our land, and in the ditch.  But once Mindy got loose, they'd be off to southern neighbour's causing trouble.

We'd patch the fence.  She'd find a new escape route.  Then she'd be on the wrong side of the fence, calling to the rest of the herd, come out and play with me!

We have five calves this year.  Five little calves who could easily duck under the fence or through one of those bad spots and run around causing trouble.  They choose not to.  They choose to stay with their mamas, their daddy- the herd.  Even Mugsy stays put when Mindy's out gallivanting around.

But what about next spring?  What will happen when the calves are bigger, their mamas are tired of nursing, new calves are arriving, and Sharlotte is still breaking through the fence?  If they followed her, that would be half my herd running loose in the neighbourhood.

Add to that her small stature- how long do we keep her, waiting for her to get big enough to breed?  If she does get pregnant, will she survive? 

We decided that Sharlotte is not the type of cow we want to keep, and we'd rather deal with her now before she leads the new calves off into the woods.

Now if you're squeamish, you should probably stop reading here.

**Graphic images will follow.**

 Husband dispatched her.

#2 took the lead this year, while I stood back and guided him through the process.

The gutting was uneventful.  Things went rather smoothly.

Weight Formula:
heart girth X heart girth X length  / 300
67" X 67" X 61" / 300 = 912.7 pounds

She was apparently slightly heavier than Steaks (830 lbs). 

We hung her in the garage last Monday, and I worked on removing fat and making tallow through the week.  She had more fat by far than any of our previous kills.  Saturday we started butchering.  It's a bit early yet, but the weather was a bit warmer than we'd like it (dropping fast now), and we still have two pigs to butcher, so we're in a bit of a hurry.

 We trimmed some of the flanks for jerky and stewing beef.  Most was cut for ground.  Blurry pictures courtesy of #4, who I believe may have been shivering a bit.

#2 got this brilliant idea to toss a bit of flank onto the wood stove.  It smelled really good, so I tossed a piece on too.  Husband, #1, and #4 thought that was disgusting.  No pan!!  lol.  They ate mine.
 After that little snack though, we decided to toss 5 freshly cut t-bones on.  (#3 was at a friend's).  I melted some of the fat on the stove top, then put the steaks on with just a bit of salt and pepper.  Delicious- and no dishes.

Still lots to do- ribs and more steaks today.


  1. Thanks for the graphic warning... and I admire you're being able to do this. I just can't... but admire those who can. Think of the great food you'll have this winter!

  2. You certainly have some adventuresome cows. I like that idea of no pans. But, I don't have a stove to throw meat Blogger is not advising me when people post!

    1. Well, we're hoping we'll have fewer adventuresome cows with the ringleader gone.

  3. Looking good! Yea for full-ish freezers! Nothing more comforting than knowing it's there for winter. Do you ever can or salt your meat?