Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hanging Steaks

Graphic images will follow.

After the gun shot, I slit his throat.  Then I stood there, like an idiot, without the foggiest idea of what to do.  Then I started to panic.  I just shot my $1000 bull, and I don't know what to do.  OMG.  What the hell is wrong with me.

#1 was standing beside me.  'What's wrong mom?'

'I can't remember where to start.'

'diaphragm, mom?'

Ok.  It might not have been the exact procedure, but it got my head back in the game.

Note to self;  even when you think you know what you're doing, you've done it before, you should know how to do this- don't wait until you're standing at the back of the pasture with the animal on the ground, every second counts, and let it occur to you, maybe I should have reviewed the procedure...

So I got started.  Slicing the belly skin lightly.  The stomach was already starting to expand at an alarming rate, working against me.  There were some tricky moments, but I managed to get him opened up without slicing through it.  I popped the diaphragm.  Cut around the testicles.  Opened up the pelvis.  Then Husband and the Bigs got him chained up and lifted him up with the tractor.
I didn't have enough muscle to pull out his innards.  #2 stepped in.  Got the job done.  We lowered him back to the ground.  Husband used the hatchet to split the pelvic bone, while I held the intestines out of the way.  Then I removed the testicles and penis.  Cut through the pelvic area to the anus.  Husband lifted him back in the air.  I cut around the rest of the anus and tail.  Husband chopped through the tail bone with the hatchet.  The Bigs each grabbed a lower leg and pulled them backwards to open up the pelvis and let the last of the innards slide out.
Then husband took him up to the garage.

I retrieved the liver and followed on foot.  I left while they were getting him hung up.  It's frustrating for me to watch, because I am worse than useless with the come-a-long, and stand there making odd noises and strange faces, worrying that they are going to drop my beef on the dirty garage floor.  I went to cook supper.  They got it done.

He was a little too big for the height of the garage.  His head and front hooves were still on the floor.  We're definitely going to need a butcher shop if we're going to continue doing these things.


  1. Okay, if I ever have to dress a cow to eat beef, I will become a vegetarian. The pictures do not gross me out, nor do your words. But, to do that to eat? No way. You win my respect more every day. I would be catatonic, not just momentarily stumped.

    Okay, let's pretend we have no power machinery to lift and carry, what next? Eat rabbits instead?

    Your husband must be proud of you. Can he dress a cow, too? I suppose you are raising butchers. I love this post.

  2. i am with PracticalP, who is my dear friend, btw, and from whom i have learned much!

    Wendy - do you realize what a giant you are?!?!!? you are doing things that our ancestors would be proud of and that people today know nothing of?!?!?! and these posts are helping us learn.

    thank you for being brutally honest...like brutally honest...it almost hurts to read some of these posts. but you are doing it for real. and teaching others. there's a special place on the other side for people like you.

    i thank you. sincerely.

    your friend,

  3. WOW!

    you sure do put it all out there AND doing it for real.

    hats of to you!!

  4. PP- Thanks. I wouldn't recommend anyone start out by butchering a cow, on their own, without some previous butchering experience. It was almost overwhelming for me. But the basic structure is the same between birds, rabbits, pigs, bear, deer, moose, cattle. You can practice.

    Without machinery- There's horse power, and come-a-longs, and probably more man power. Ideally you would do your kill next to a big tree. You could quarter your critter at the kill site, making the parts more manageable. But the more cuts you make out in the open, the greater the risk of contamination.

    And yeah- eat rabbits. Eat chickens, turkeys, pheasants, pork... Variety is the spice of life, lol. Seriously, without machinery (and presumably refrigeration) you have to work with the weather. You can't butcher a cow in the summer when the meat will spoil. So you wouldn't be eating beef in the summer. You'd eat lots of rabbits, birds, fish- one or two day meals. Unless you had a really big group to feed, that would eat a whole cow in a very short time frame. You'd eat smaller, lighter meals through the summer, a lot more vegetation.

    Husband could dress a cow. He prefers not to. He'd be happy in a McMansion in the suburbs next to a big chain grocer. He is proud of how little I spend at the grocery store. He is enjoying the meat. But I don't think he'd try it if I wasn't around. The Bigs, sometimes they make really good food choices because they know the difference between real food and the chemical concoctions available for sale. And sometimes, they ask me not to read the label because something tastes really good and if I tell them what's in it it'll wreck it. They've both done chickens and rabbits on their own. They'll both get their hunting licenses. Neither plans to live in the city. The Littles think dead things are gross. They don't even want to look at it. They don't like to touch raw meat. They eat really well once it's cooked though. (Is this comment ridiculously long or what? lol)

  5. Kymber- Thank you. Yes, PP is a wealth of knowledge, determination, and spirit.

    I'm really not a giant though. Our family never really experienced the break away from the roots of our ancestors the way most modern folks have. I'm not even one generation off the farm. Dad was a farm kid. He didn't farm, but we lived in the country, raised chickens, rabbits, and a huge garden. I don't do everything 'right'. My people didn't get into modern farming, and I don't have the knowledge and experience of the old way. I just have the stubborn determination, lol.

    Jambaloney- thanks, I think, lol. Just livin'.

  6. Wendy - you are very humble in spirit and that comes across loud and true on your blog. but you are a giant! you are DOING it the way it needs to be done and you are SHARING it - that's what all of the giants in history have done. learned and shared!

    you are stubborn and even when you don't get it right - you figure out how to do it right the next time. that's the definition of a giant right there. don't disagree or i will have to come down and open a can of whoop-ass on you! and then you will knock me down with a bear carcass. i'd rather not have to go through all of that so just agree with me, will ya?

    your incredibly impressed and wowed friend,