I'll repeat my warning from last time: DO NOT READ THIS POST if you are vegetarian or have a squeamish stomach. This post shows pictures of our bull calf being butchered. I don't want anyone whining that they weren't adequately warned about the graphic nature of these photos.
Okay. That said, this morning we butchered our bull calf, Beefy. After our debacle a week and a half ago when Matilda was in heat, Beefy suddenly realized he's a bull and has been acting accordingly. We didn't want two bulls around the place, so his date with the freezer came a little earlier than anticipated. He was about ten months old.
Now that Ruby and Smokey are out of the barn, we managed to get Beefy inside the barn and lock him there. Last December, when we butchered Chateau, Don was out of town and I had little choice but to round up all the animals and put them in the small pasture in front of the house (it's roughly triangular in shape so, cleverly, we call it "the triangle pasture"). This wasn't the best technique because the steer was shot in front of the herd, who were naturally upset.
This time we planned to keep Beefy in the barn and shoo everyone down in the main pasture for the first time this spring.
Lydia sleeping (just too cute to resist)...
The day started with wisps of fog creeping around the canyon.
The sun rose around 5:30 am (can you see Brit, our horse, in the foreground?).
When I released the chickens, I noticed what looked like dog urine next to the coop door. I can only conclude it was from a coyote. This is why we button up our chickens at night.
The herd milled around, restless because I had closed the gate to the triangle pasture...
...until they realized I'd opened the gate to the big pasture. Whoo-hoo! Freedom!
Here's Beefy, unhappy that he couldn't join the rest of the herd. Sorry little guy. It's been nice knowin' ya.
Potlatch Pack arrived mid-morning, and swiftly dispatched Beefy inside the barn and bled him out there (at my request - it's easier to pitchfork the blood-soaked hay from the barn). He was so small they could just drag him out into the driveway to butcher.
Here they're starting to skin. This is Mel (on the right) and his nephew Chance (left). They wear holsters with knives around their waterproof aprons, and constantly sharpen the knives from a sharpener dangling at their waist.
Here Chance takes a modified chain saw and slices down the center of the ribcage, so they can hang and gut Beefy.
Most of the skin is off, and Chance pulls out the innards. We saved the liver for a neighbor who (yuck) actually likes that kind of stuff.
The men are constantly hosing down the carcass as well as themselves and their tools. I'm impressed by their cleanliness. Here Chance is hosing the carcass, which they've finished cutting in two with the chain saw.
Hoisting it higher and getting ready to slide the carcass into the truck.
Putting on the rollers. You can see the other carcasses from other farms inside. We were their fourth (and last) stop of the morning. They'll head down to Potlatch, about an hour's drive south, to hang the meat for a couple weeks, then cut and wrap.
Finishing cutting off the skin. They sell the hide to a tanner to subsidize the cost of the farm call.
And that's it. From start to finish took about half an hour. These men are good at what they do!
I've said it before but it's worth saying again: Those who read my columns know of my deep admiration for blue-collar workers, whom I feel to be the backbone of this country. My admiration for America's working class is exemplified by these two men. Here they were, working hard, taking a dirty job and doing it quickly, efficiently, and (in this case) humanely. These are hard-working 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. Potlatch Pack is a family-owned business widely known in this area for its ethical handling of livestock and meat products. What’s not to admire?