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View Full Version : Well, I did it. (homegrown meat)



katey
02-28-2013, 09:13 PM
Well, I did it. I raised a mammal, had it butchered, and sat down and ate some of it for dinner. (I've done this before with birds, but somehow a mammal raises the stakes.)

She had a really good life, right up until 10 seconds before she died. (Well, she probably didn't much like the car ride when I went to pick her up last spring.) We should all be so lucky.

Her name was "Delicious," and she was a Romney ewe lamb.

Canoeyawl
02-28-2013, 09:34 PM
A fitting end for a Romney.

Willin'
02-28-2013, 09:42 PM
Congratulations on being a consciencious owner and consumer. A thing we learned in a roundabout way is that aging the meat will allow the flavors and textures to develop. I've eaten quite a bit of freshly butchered lamb and mutton and without that aging it's pretty unexciting.

Unfortunately, that's all I know. I've heard it said dry aging and cold storage have different effects on the meat. Hope you enjoy your Delicious meals.

Peach
02-28-2013, 09:46 PM
I tried raising rabbits once but I just couldn't bring myself to whack them, so ended up giving them away.

I have a friend who raises a couple hogs every year and treats them like family. When it's time to fill the freezer he has no trouble getting right at it. He says he loves them when they're living, and loves them on the BBQ.

I'll stick to gardening.

katey
02-28-2013, 09:50 PM
I had a friend who raised pastured chickens on a small commercial scale. When it came time to process, there was lots of waste, so the next year he got pigs as well. I spent a lot of time that summer chasing them after they got out, especially Buster the escape artist. When it was time to do in the pigs, Bob made sure that I got half of Buster, and I ate him with relish.

katey
02-28-2013, 09:52 PM
As for aging the meat, I think that's happening, at least a little bit. I had a mobile slaughtering outfit do the deed onsite, but all they left with me was the pelt, heart and liver (which is what I had for supper). The rest will be returned to me in paper packages early next week.

S.V. Airlie
02-28-2013, 10:01 PM
I had a friend who raised pastured chickens on a small commercial scale. When it came time to process, there was lots of waste, so the next year he got pigs as well. I spent a lot of time that summer chasing them after they got out, especially Buster the escape artist. When it was time to do in the pigs, Bob made sure that I got half of Buster, and I ate him with relish.
How did he taste? I've never used relish on pork. Game to try it once though.:)

Chip-skiff
02-28-2013, 10:19 PM
A thing we learned in a roundabout way is that aging the meat will allow the flavors and textures to develop. I've eaten quite a bit of freshly butchered lamb and mutton and without that aging it's pretty unexciting.

As a campjack for a sheep outfit, many years ago, I learned to skin and butcher a sheep. We were far from roads for several months and had very basic rations: flour, salt, cornmeal, dry beans, etc. Two hungry blokes can eat a sheep in about ten days. First off, we'd do the ribs over coals (a feast). I hung the carcass in a tree at night in the cold air (we were on top of a mountain range.) Days, I'd wrap it in a canvas pack cover and put it on the ground inside the tent with a heap of saddle pads, etc. on top, so it kept cool. Which I guess amounts to dry aging. We always finished up and boiled the bones for soup before it got too high.

Since then I've hunted for food and the killing always upsets me a bit, despite the primal necessity blah-blah. Animals want to live just as much as we do. I'm sure you recognise that in a personal and poignant way.

Paul Girouard
02-28-2013, 10:45 PM
Animals want to live just as much as we do.

\

Prolly more as no critter willing kills itself , like a human committing suicide, nor do they line up for abortions!

Nice work Katey , the full circle of life, seldom done by folks in this day and age! Yum!!

Joe Dupere
03-01-2013, 09:28 AM
We raise dual purpose layer/meat hens. Once their laying days are over we turn them into soups, stews and pot pies. Over the last three years, we've raised six or seven meat lambs. Currently we're raising small 'family homestead' pigs. The top rate is around 250lbs for males and females around 220 or thereabouts. We had one litter last year, and sold four of them and kept one for our own meat, but then decided that we would keep her for breeding. Just before Christmas she suffered from a prolapsed rectum and we decided to have her processed for meat. We got about 45 lbs of meat out of her, and just finished the last of the sausage, and cooked the last ham yesterday.

All of our animals have been taken to a local butcher shop, but we're coming to the realization that we need to learn to do the slaughtering and butchering ourselves. It doesn't seem right to give them a good life, and then have the last two to three hours full of stress driving them to the butcher's and then waiting for their 'turn'.

katey
03-01-2013, 10:56 AM
Yes, that's the next step. I've been involved in chicken processing before. I wish I was still in Maine so I could go to the "Nose to Tail" pig processing class.

Joe Dupere
03-01-2013, 11:02 AM
Yes, that's the next step. I've been involved in chicken processing before. I wish I was still in Maine so I could go to the "Nose to Tail" pig processing class.

I'm going to that workshop this fall. Three days of how to slaughter, butcher, and process pigs. Can't wait.

BrianW
03-01-2013, 11:24 AM
You never fail to amaze me katey! Must be a blur of motion all the time. ;)

downthecreek
03-01-2013, 11:27 AM
Her name was "Delicious," and she was a Romney ewe lamb.

I wonder if that makes you a "looker"?

(Looker is the local name for a shepherd on the Romney marsh, where, I believe, that breed originated)

pefjr
03-01-2013, 11:34 AM
Thanks for the reminder, time to harvest some more Goldfish from the pond.

Bobcat
03-01-2013, 12:30 PM
Years ago I helped butcher a pig named "Pork Chop" Good thing she didn't understand English. She tasted good as did her companion in meat production "J. Edgar"

BrianM
03-01-2013, 01:05 PM
I'm going to that workshop this fall. Three days of how to slaughter, butcher, and process pigs. Can't wait.

I'd like to find a similar class in butchering. With fingers crossed, I may take ownership of a 3 acre plot soon. My plan was to start with Chickens and Rabbits for meat.

What I don't have a feel for is how many goats or sheep will 3 acres of grass provide for?

It seems that if you have to start buying feed, your cost per dressed pound might make it uneconomical. Anyone aware of any "rules of thumb" for acres per animal?

Thanks

Brian

Bob Cleek
03-01-2013, 01:35 PM
I'd like to find a similar class in butchering. With fingers crossed, I may take ownership of a 3 acre plot soon. My plan was to start with Chickens and Rabbits for meat.

What I don't have a feel for is how many goats or sheep will 3 acres of grass provide for?

It seems that if you have to start buying feed, your cost per dressed pound might make it uneconomical. Anyone aware of any "rules of thumb" for acres per animal?

Thanks

Brian

I'm hardly a farmer, but I've been on the periphery for a long while and have from time to time investigated the options for using my land. I've ended up concluding it''s best use is for growing fruits and vegetables, considering the cost/labor/benefit ratios. Now I just have to get the guy out to get a chunk of it plowed, leveled and rototilled for planting! (After which time the rabbits and gophers will probably eat better off of it than we do!)

There are rules of thumb for the number of animals pasture will suport, but they depend upon the pasture and what's growing on it. An acre in our neck of the woods should support maybe three sheep without supplemental feed, but the climate and the type and condition of forage growing on the pasture are major variables. So also are the sheep themselves. Lactating ewes are going to eat a lot more in order to produce their milk. How frequently the pastures are rotated is also an important variable, since the forage has to have time to recover or you'll end up with a "dust bowl" in no time.

Goats can be fun, or not. You can raise angoras for their hair, but you aren't going to get enough to do anything with on three acres unless you're just a hobby weaver. They aren't much good for meat in a lot of people's opinion, although it is a culturally acquired taste and there's a big market among the Latinos for "cabrito" (goat meat). It's just beginning to be marketed to the foodies as "chevon," as it is known in France. You can make some fine goat, or sheep's milk cheeses, but the catch is that you have to milk them. (Which means somebody's got to be there twice a day, every day, to do it, plus all the refrigeration equipment for pasturizing, aging, etc., etc.) Billies can be nasty to have around, as can rams, so figure on buying straws of semen and doing your own AI or paying the vet to come by and do it. Sheep are pretty easy to confine, but goats climb and require special fencing to keep on the property. Goats will, as is their reputation, eat just about anything that grows, so some people have goats they rent out for brush clearing, but that sort of diet isn't what you want if you are looking for good meat or dairy product.

You'd probably do a lot better with laying chickens than anything else. Pasture raised eggs are bringing eight bucks a dozen at the Ferry Building Farmers' Market these days... everybody seems to be getting into that. Folks say they are far better tasting than regular eggs, but I haven't spent what they are getting for them just to find out. A layer should produce an egg every day or day and a half in her prime for about two years. Figure how many eggs you want per day and do the math. Layers aren't much good for eating once they are spent. The egg farms have a hard time even selling them to the pet food producers these days, given the cost of truck fuel. (A lot are just gassed, tossed into pits and bulldozed under.) Pound for pound, Foster Farms chicken at Costo is, I'm sure, less expensive than raising your own on a small scale. As for the larger stuff, it's surprising how much sheep, goats and the rest will graze over time. And hogs? Well, you don't want to go there unless you can keep them a long way from the house! Not only do you have supplemental feed bills, but you've got occasional vet bills for vaccinations, cutting and shearing and so on. Some people do all that themselves, but at that point you're getting into becoming a real farmer. I think red meat procurement is probably more economically left to the supermarkets these days. Some people will raise a couple of beef calves and have them taken out for butchering. That will fill the freezer, but it isn't like they are free to begin with and it isn't like all of the meat you get back is going to be fillet mignon! (In the supermarket, you are buying graded meat. Raise your own and you get what you grew. It may be as tough as shoe leather!) There are books on small scale farming down at Copperfield's Books that are full of the exact information you are looking for.

The Farm Bureau is your friend. http://www.sonomafb.org/ Get the kids into FFA and/or 4H and you'll have access to all the information you'll ever need. Get them hooked on the "gateway" animals like chickens and rabbits, they'll move on to the harder stuff like market lambs and beef calves and away ya go! (Give me a call about this if you want. I can connect you with my office assistant whose kids are really big into this stuff.)

Paul Pless
03-01-2013, 02:06 PM
Pasture raised eggs are bringing eight bucks a dozen at the Ferry Building Farmers' Market these days... One dollar a dozen for free range eggs here in 'rural' Michigan

Katherine
03-01-2013, 02:07 PM
One dollar a dozen for free range eggs here in 'rural' MichiganActually it's $2.

Joe Dupere
03-01-2013, 02:13 PM
Well Brian, I concur with most of what Bob said. Stocking rate depends on a lot of factors. You can put one cow on an acre, or maybe 2 - 3 sheep or goats from one of the large breeds, or maybe 4 - 5 goats or sheep of smaller breeds. On the other hand, we keep 13-15 does and two bucks, (mostly Nigerian dwarfs, which are a small dairy breed), a donkey, a pair of breeding Guinea hogs and upwards of a couple dozen laying/meat hens on four acres of cleared land. In the spring through mid summer, we can't keep up with how fast the grass grows. Late summer through the end of fall, 4 acres is not enough grazing when the grass starts to die back. We do a lot of rotational grazing to force the critters to eat everything in a paddock. If you just set them loose on four acres, they'll wander around and eat all the good stuff down to the roots, and then in a few years you'l have pastures full of burdocks, thistles and goldenrod, and other things they don't like to eat.

Your plan of starting with chickens and rabbits sounds like a good one. Once you're used to dealing with smaller livestock, then you can think about adding larger critters. The only quibble I have with Bob's comments about milking is that you don't have to milk twice a day. It is possible to only milk once, you get more for that milking, but less than with two. In our case, one milking a day from the five goats we have in milk at any time, gives us more than enough milk to drink and make to make cheese. We also dry them off during the winter so we don't milk from December through March, although that is a personal choice that fits our lifestyle needs.

AussieBarney
03-01-2013, 02:19 PM
If you name it, it cant be eaten. SWMBO rules. Saved several beasts over the years

BrianM
03-01-2013, 02:21 PM
I understand young goat stands up well to stewing and curries. We have Pakistani friends who are pretty excited that we will have land and potentially goats for meat. I don't know how to raise/butcher in the "Halal" style, but they can fill me in on that if needed.

Raising hogs is in my blood. When my paternal grandfather came to this country and San Francisco in 1917 he and his brothers raised hogs and supported very successful families off of that (ironically, the "Ranch" was in Butchertown, over by Candlestick of S.F. Giants and 49ers fame for those not familiar). My dad's before school job each day (once he could drive) was to collect all the plate-scrapings and throwaway food from the St. Francis Hotel, Clinton Cafe, and other convention centers and restaurants in Downtown San Francisco. Before garbage disposals (and the city sewage system), the hogs did that job! Now that all that food is flushed own the toilet, getting good "swill" takes some work, but it can be done with nearby food processing plants. Lagunita brewery trucks away all the spent grain each day, the slaugher houses for chickens might have some goodies I can cook up, and tortilla factories regularly dump tons of burnt or mis-shapen chips each day.

Alas, the plot being 3 acres and amongst others of similar size, do not provide adequate "windage" for the delightful aromas hogs produce. Maybe one young pig at a time, but I have not aspirations to follow my grandfather's trade. :p

BrianM
03-01-2013, 02:23 PM
Well Brian, I concur with most of what Bob said. Stocking rate depends on a lot of factors. You can put one cow on an acre, or maybe 2 - 3 sheep or goats from one of the large breeds, or maybe 4 - 5 goats or sheep of smaller breeds. On the other hand, we keep 13-15 does and two bucks, (mostly Nigerian dwarfs, which are a small dairy breed), a donkey, a pair of breeding Guinea hogs and upwards of a couple dozen laying/meat hens on four acres of cleared land. In the spring through mid summer, we can't keep up with how fast the grass grows. Late summer through the end of fall, 4 acres is not enough grazing when the grass starts to die back. We do a lot of rotational grazing to force the critters to eat everything in a paddock. If you just set them loose on four acres, they'll wander around and eat all the good stuff down to the roots, and then in a few years you'l have pastures full of burdocks, thistles and goldenrod, and other things they don't like to eat.

Your plan of starting with chickens and rabbits sounds like a good one. Once you're used to dealing with smaller livestock, then you can think about adding larger critters. The only quibble I have with Bob's comments about milking is that you don't have to milk twice a day. It is possible to only milk once, you get more for that milking, but less than with two. In our case, one milking a day from the five goats we have in milk at any time, gives us more than enough milk to drink and make to make cheese. We also dry them off during the winter so we don't milk from December through March, although that is a personal choice that fits our lifestyle needs.

Good guidance Joe. Thanks...

J P
03-01-2013, 02:24 PM
I've heard that turkeys are one of the most efficient pound for pound (feed to meat yield). There's a few folks around here that raise free-range heritage turkeys and sell/barter them. I've had a few and like'm.

Joe Dupere
03-01-2013, 02:31 PM
If you name it, it cant be eaten. SWMBO rules. Saved several beasts over the years Yeah, when we got our first three meat lambs, we were going to name them Stewey, Savory and Yummy. Then when she saw them, my wife said we couldn't name them, because they were so cute and she was afraid we wouldn't be able to eat them. So we started referring to them as the white one, the brown one, and the other white one. It wasn't too long before they became Fat Face, Skinny Face and Brownie. And they did in fact become, savory, yummy and stewey. In fact, I have Brownie's fleece as a cover on the recliner I'm sitting on as I write.

BrianM
03-01-2013, 02:36 PM
I've heard that turkeys are one of the most efficient pound for pound (feed to meat yield). There's a few folks around here that raise free-range heritage turkeys and sell/barter them. I've had a few and like'm.

Turkeys are beautiful birds too. My inlaws have tenants on their farm who also raise pheasants and guinea fowl. This thread is making me hungry.

katey
03-01-2013, 03:17 PM
I just finished cleaning and salting Delicious's pelt.

S.V. Airlie
03-01-2013, 03:20 PM
Actually it's $2.
Obviously Kat does the shopping or Paul has coupons.:)

skuthorp
03-01-2013, 03:46 PM
Friend of mine bought 4 calves to raise and sell as yearlings, came selling time he'd named them, addicted them to sugar lumps and they followed him around his small farm like dogs. They all died of old age, but he did train them as a bullock team and took them to local shows.

john welsford
03-02-2013, 02:47 PM
Snip>
All of our animals have been taken to a local butcher shop, but we're coming to the realization that we need to learn to do the slaughtering and butchering ourselves. It doesn't seem right to give them a good life, and then have the last two to three hours full of stress driving them to the butcher's and then waiting for their 'turn'.[/QUOTE]

Here in NZ we have a tiny sub branch of the butchers trade known as a "Home kill butcher". The law says that we can kill our own meat for our own consumption but are not allowed to sell it. We're shares with our next door neighbours in a deal where we buy 2 calves each season, keep them between us until about 2 years old then call in the butcher for one at a time to restock the freezer.
They turn up with a small truck with a crane on the back, quietly walk up to the selected beast and put a solid load from a special short barreled 12 gauge in behind its ear. Its about as quick and low stress an end as it could be, the others in the paddock rarely even lift their heads at the sound. The operator takes the carcase away and we pick up all the meat processed into cuts and sausages about 2 days later. Cost is quite modest, we figure that our meat costs about 30% of the retail shop price. Its better meat as well, all grass fed, no grain, no drugs, no stress.

The system is very commonly used by farmers and small landholders, they do pigs, goats, deer and sheep as well.

Some time back I grew all our meat, turkeys have the highest conversion rate of feed to meat, and rabbits are next. We had pigs, much too intelligent and bond very quickly to their owners. Had sheep, they work out well as there is not so much meat on one that its too much for the families consumption rate and storage facility, goats the same.

Incidentally I had trouble with marauding dogs in my flock of coloured sheep, shot several but it did not make much difference, so got half a dozen billygoats (angoras) and ran them with the sheep, they killed one dog the first night and ran the rest off, never had another problem except with the owner of the dog who when she came and complained I made dig the hole for the two pregnant ewes that the dog had killed. No more problem from her either.

John Welsford

stromborg
03-02-2013, 04:10 PM
Yes, that's the next step. I've been involved in chicken processing before. I wish I was still in Maine so I could go to the "Nose to Tail" pig processing class.

You might try these guys over on Vashon: http://www.farmsteadmeatsmith.com/ or http://islandmeadowfarm.wordpress.com/

I have chickens that provide me with eggs, raising them for meat seems like a lot of effort. I keep trying to move to a more plant-based diet but keep coming back to my carnivore roots, partially solved the problem by buying half of an organic grass fed cow and half a pig from a friend of a friend in Eastern Washington.

Portland
03-02-2013, 05:00 PM
About 15 years ago I moved to a small central Victorian farm , when I retired, and started full time training horses and cattle to drive.
It was also the start of an 11year drought.
I got 6 3 day old Illawarra calves , raised them and trained them to be a very good little bullock team ( a top traditional team was 16 head).
But the drought continued.
I sold my best cows , and butchered the rest.
Butchered the bull.
Then we started on the bullock team , at 6yo.
I preferred to do that than have them trucked off , and go through all of the trauma they do.
The bullocks never knew what hit them , they had a good and privilaged life right to the end.
And we ate well , and got plenty of visits from the kids.
Such is life.
Rob J.