Warning: DO NOT READ THIS POST if you are vegetarian or have a squeamish stomach. This post shows pictures of our steer being butchered. I don't want anyone whining that they weren't adequately warned about the graphic nature of these photos.
Okay. That said, last Monday we butchered our steer, Chateau (short for Chateaubriand - we always give our steers "meat" names).
We had a few inches of pretty fluffy snow during the night.
My husband was out of town (with the camera - I had to borrow a neighbor's camera, which is why this posting is so late) so a (different) neighbor came over to help.
First thing we did was herd the herd into the front pasture to make it easier for the mobile butchers to dispatch the steer. We figured having his herd around would keep Chateau calm until his time came. This was in fact the case, but we also found it was hard to scoot the herd back to the woods afterward because they didn't want to edge past Chateau's carcass. Ah well, we'll do things differently next time.
We bring in a business called Potlatch Pack, a mobile butchering service, because let me tell you these guys know what they're doing. Here the fellow (I think his name was Chance) is aiming a rifle at Chateau. One shot into the brain (a bull's-eye every time) and the steer was down. Wham, done. Very quick, very humane. After the steer was on the ground brain-dead, Chance slit his throat to bleed him out.
We herded the rest of the livestock back into the woods while Chance and his assistant Ed chained the steer by one leg and dragged him out of the pasture. Then they hauled him up onto the vehicle's hanging arm to finish draining the blood while the men don protective waterproof aprons for the messy work.
First thing they do is remove the head and feet. There are tough tendons in the back legs which they use to hang the carcass, and it's necessary to remove the head and feet to not only get to the tendons, but also to skin the steer.
Skinning the steer. Chance and Ed wear a chain belt with a holster of knives they are constantly sharpening. They are incredibly fast at skinning.
They re-hoist the carcass in order to finish skinning, as well as to gut the animal. I asked them to save the tongue and the liver for a neighbor who loves eating those organs (yuck). They also saved the kidneys for me, because the kidneys are wrapped in lots of fat and I want to learn how to render fat for soapmaking or perhaps tallow candles.
After the steer was gutted, Chance took a modified saws-all and sliced directly down the center of the backbone, dividing the carcass in half.
Then Chateau is put on rollers, all ready to slide into the truck.
There were three other carcasses ahead of him, and another came after (another neighbor was having her steer butchered today as well). Then the men were off to their facility in the town of Potlatch to hang the meat for about a week before cutting and wrapping it. We should have Chateau back, ready for the freezer, by Christmas. We plan to have fresh steaks for Christmas dinner, yum!
Those who read my columns know of my deep admiration for blue-collar workers, whom I feel to be the backbone of this country. I tell you, my admiration for America's working class is exemplified by these two young men. Here they were, working in cold weather, working hard, taking a dirty job and doing it quickly, efficiently, and (in this case) humanely. Hard working young family men doing what it takes to make a living and provide for their wives and children while providing a much-needed and much-appreciated service. What’s not to admire?