What am I going to eat this winter?
The other option we had planned was to put Toothless on the menu this fall. He was supposed to be big and mean at 2.5 years old, so after breeding season, he was supposed to go on the menu. He is getting bigger, but his temperament is pretty good, except when one of the girls is in heat. He stays in the pasture, and he's fathered 3 calves. So, while he may taste delicious, he really seems to be worth keeping. His daughters won't be ready to breed until 2015, so I don't need to get rid of him yet.
We also have a replacement bull issue. Steaks only fathered one calf, Sharlotte, at 1.5. Murphy or Monsoon, whichever I keep as Toothless' replacement, will only be 1.5 next fall. Old enough to technically get the job done, but I really don't want to go back to a one calf year.
I could butcher whichever one of them I decide not to keep, but they're not that big yet, which seems kind of wasteful.
The girls are also off schedule. Dorie should rebreed for another spring calf, but Nelly could be bred now, after losing her calf, making for a very early baby next year, along with Mildred who may be knocked up for January. Toothless never tried to get back to her after that first incident, and she hasn't shown any signs of estrus. And now with Mindy calving in August, she shouldn't be rebred for a few months. If we butcher Toothless, Murphy or Monsoon won't be old enough to take care of business.
I could buy a steer or yearling bull to butcher. But I paid a lot of money for Steaks. And honestly, he didn't taste that great. He wasn't bad. But he wasn't Casper. Even though Toothless is a Holstein cross, he's a whole lot sleeker, solid and muscled than Steaks ever was. Steaks arrived scrawny and never really put on any weight. There are no feed lots around here, so I expect anything I buy to be grass fed, but still, there was something just not right about him. I don't think I want to spend that kind of money just to put something in the freezer that may or may not meet my standards.
I could get lucky at the auction and find another pig for a steal. I truly feel bad for whoever brought her in, they sure didn't get what she was worth. She did feed us well though. But that brings me back to the same issue I had in the spring- no pig pen. And I'd need to let a pig live here at least a month, just so I'd know there were no drugs in her system.
And of course we have the meat birds. They'll provide many meals this winter.
I didn't buy a moose tag this year, after losing Dad. I could still buy a calf tag, but I don't think I'm emotionally ready to go moose hunting. And of course, that doesn't give us any guarantees.
Bear season just opened. I do have a tag. Still no guarantees.
Grocery store? What a concept. I could buy meat this winter. Oh!! I COULD buy meat this winter. There's a bison farm not far from here, and every time I drive by it I think I should really go and talk to them and give it a try. This could be the year.
And then there's still partridge season coming up too.
For now, I guess I'll start by taking inventory of the freezers. I'm late getting them cleaned out this year anyway!