Thursday, November 26, 2009

ok, i'm still a little freaked out

WARNING THIS POST IS ABOUT KILLING A COW
please be warned and if you are compelled to flame me about it please do it on your own blog.

in the heat of the moment i can do just about anything. my adrenaline kicks in and i get on task. killing anything generally upsets me. i killed that steer, phoenix. earlier that day i spent a little time with phoenix. i thanked him for his gift and hoped that we gave him a good life. i believe that we did.

james a friend that i work with came over to help with the deed. he brought his gun since my twelve gauge would have made a canoe out of his head. i lined him up where i though it would be best for him to stand. i put the barrel right between his eyes, up just a little and fired. he just stood there and staggered away. s#@T what a bunch of crap! it took three more shots, four total. finally the last one i got just over his eye and he dropped instantly.

now i was really upset. the last thing i wanted to do was hurt him. tabitha tried to console me that head injuries don't hurt nearly as much--right... insert plenty of profanity here. anyway, he was finally dead and needed to be moved to where we could hike him up.


he weighed too much for james and i to drag him without a mechanical advantage.

the kids helped.

my block and tackle made my tie-off height too low. he was too heavy to lift entirely with both simple machines. we had to improvise. we decided to try to gut him first.

this where i began to loose myself in the moment.

james gave me instructions every step of the way.

he helped at every turn or would step in where i would stall.

the kids were right there. they saw every little thing.

the innards were ridiculously heavy and near impossible to manage.

finally we hiked him up to to work on.

kassi was especially interested. she stuck through until the end.

i used my cordless saws-all to cut through the neck bones.

finally progress could start in earnest.

i even kinda enjoyed myself.


kassi was amazing, she would size things up and try to be ready to hand me the next ting she thought i might need. here it is a towel.


we cut him into quarters and put him into the freezer. james is coming back tomorrow with his commercial grinder and we will put him into little packages. this is the last photo before the camera battery gave up the ghost.


it got dark and i had to set up a four foot florescent light. kassi was so impressive she helped until the last moment. her little hands were freezing. i tried to shew her inside several times and she wouldn't have it.

we are thankful for our bounty. next time we'll try to afford to have money to have our animals processed professionally. i was overwhelmed and had to severely decompress after that ordeal. i know that some people can do that stuff day and night but it was a big job for me. learning stuff always makes me anxious. i guess there was too many things whirling around in my head compounded with the stress of it taking four shots. we'll see how i feel in a few weeks. it might not be so bad once a little spilled milk has passed under the bridge.

23 comments:

sheila said...

Reminds me of the time my ex and I butchered a 2 and a half yr old Angus Holstein cross. My ex took aim with the 22 rifle and right when he fired, the steer raised his head and the shot went an inch too low to hit his brain. My ex said, "He didn't die, what do I do now?" My response, "Shoot him again!" Lucky for us that shot went right between his eyes and dropped him like a stone. He was way too big (we should have butchered him at least 6 months earlier), but lucky for us we had the farm and a bucket tractor so raising him up to get him gutted and skinned was pretty easy. We named him as a calf, Idi Amin, hoping that would make it easier to butcher. Nope, still hard, Idi was the sweetest steer, loved back scratches and neck rubs. Tasted really good though. I think that once you start grilling some steak you will put today into perspective. Hard work and stressful, but ultimately worth it to know your kids are getting good safe food.

jenny said...

How you feel is how I felt when I killed and butchered my fist chicken all by myself. Took me most of the day to get over it.

That was a big job, I am glad you had someone to help and guide you. I am always amazed at the lack of blood.. It seems like it would be such a bloody process, but it really isn't.

Congrats on your first butchering of a steer. Hope he tastes divine!

tansy said...

yeah, the first time i tried to butcher a chicken ala greg method, i screwed up and had to keep hacking away. luckily, i talked to tabitha and she told me her method of slicing their throats vs. trying to swing a machete. i know exactly how you feel not getting it done the first time.

that's a huge undertaking!

feebeeglee said...

Wow! I had a long comment with, like, armchair quarterbacking of possible future slaughter methods, but blogger ated it.

Wendy said...

My husband could relate, somewhat. He's never butchered anything as large as a steer, although he did help our neighbor with cutting up a deer the other day. The animal was already dead, though, having been killed by a car.

Are you going to process the hide?

MMP said...

In our household, my wife does the plucking, I do the cutting. Slaughter is an unpleasant task, but if we are going to eat meat and drink milk, it has to happen one way or another. If you have the stomach to get practiced at it, there won't be a better way for your animals to go.

mamabug said...

Iadmire your family's dedication to being self-sustaining and aware of where your food comes from and the resources you use to provide it.

I truly believe that our country lacks any understanding of these basics and are the worse for it.

I hope you find the time and place to come to peace about it. I can imagine that it was a traumatic event that will take some time to fully grok.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

tara said...

I have only butchered a chicken but it certainly gives you appreciation for where food comes from. I think that is important. What a big job.

Lucky Lizard Ranch said...

Great job Karl!

RM said...

Nice job! I sure do hate the killing part, but LOVE the butchering.

Homesteading Mama said...

well done. tabitha's right- any head injury puts them into shock so he prbly didn't feel too much. each one will get better. don't be too quick to have it done "professionally"- you have better uses for your money and you'll soon be a pro yourself. i believe anyone who wants to eat meat must take responsibility for its life and death... tho many call us "cruel" for eating our animals. you can't truly appreciate its life unless you, yourself, are handling its death. again, well done. and a hearty cheer for kassi too- she's a great woman in the making!

katrien said...

Wow, what a story. Sorry it didn't go as you had wished, but there's that learning curve, and next time you'll be so much more confident and efficient.

Bon appetit.

Oh, and I don't think anyone will flame you - at least not anyone who knows what you're talking about. You were totally upfront with your readers about what happened, and that is to be greatly valued.

Fleecenik Farm said...

We grew a pig for a couple of years there. Both times the pig took more than one shot. it is what it is. Not pleasant but necessary if we are growing the animals for meat.

This year a friend asked my husband to help kill and butcher 4 pigs. Fortunately our friend and fed the pigs vodka for breakfast. When we arrived they were staggering. By the time it came to do the deed. They were asleep and did not stir when their sty mates met their end. Hubby said it made much easier.

Ed said...

When you aim to kill any animal as quickly and humanely as possible, you are doing the right thing. Although I've put down a lot of hogs, I've never done a cow. Out of the dozens I shot, perhaps only a handful went down on the first shot.

You did it for all the right reasons Karl and I hope that you now get to enjoy the fruits of your labors all year long. I also hope that you don't give up on doing the butchering yourself. Although a locker is cheaper than plastic wrapped styrofoam packages in a grocery store, nothing beats food that you prepared yourself.

Alex said...

it's so great to see kids learning first hand about where their food comes from. our landlord did a pig recently similar to yours. good stuff.

i wouldn't worry about how he went..i'm sure it was ten time more pleasant than any hamburger on any grocery store shelf. people love to hide behind all these institutions we've put in place; but i say eff the middleman...D.I.Y.

Pablo said...

Sounds like you did pretty well under the circumstances. Like laws and sausages, I can eat beef better when I don't know all the details of how it is made.

I'm glad your kids got to partake. It is critical for them to understand how these things work on the world, and I think they probably learned even more from your pragmatic approach (minus the colorful language, of course).

nt moore said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
nt moore said...

What'd you do with the hide Karl? I tanned the hides of sheep (w/ kerosene, baking soda, and salt) a few years ago and the kids now love playing on the the woolly sides. So long as you can keep your kids away from the associated liquids, tanning is a lot easier than you think.

Jessica said...

Oh my. I haven't been online in a while and your blog is the first one I always go to. I was reading this and cried. Not because I think you have done the wrong thing, not at all. Rather, I can tell that it laid a burden on you and it comes through in this post. I just wanted to say that though this was a very difficult and not necessarily enjoyable task, you have shown that you have immense amounts of courage. To do what is needed to provide and nurture your family is not always easy. But to do it and let the children not just watch but engage in the process is amazing. It will probably sit with them for the rest of their lives and help them. Your strength and the fact that you must have let them see it was bothering you is going to go with them throughout life.
I lived right next door to a family that had their own cows and when the butcher came to get them, the first one dropped with one shot but the second one took three and a kick to the head. It was a startling moment and yet, I realize that it needed to be done. Good for you for doing what was needed.

Mashelly said...

wow I am shocked you di't get loads of nasty comments about this..you should have seen the ones I got when I posted about killing our 1st 2 sheep recently...our children watched as well till the end.. they are getting used to it all now..when we killed our 1st duck there was alsorts of commotion about it... its a skill all meat eaters should have ..alos like you we felt a pangs when the kill happens, but we thank God for the life of the animal and continue on..
well done to you all

Beau said...

That's a tough one. I can only identify from a deer hunting perspective, but a steer is a lot more to handle.

Woody said...

Nice job Karl. A very well done post too.

warren said...

I can imagine it was tough Karl, but good work nonetheless...

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