Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Mr. Goat Goes to Washington

Sunday there was a first here at the farm; we butchered a goat. Tolstoy to be precise. I know, we shouldn't name potential food. But it helps when referring to them for things such as "Hey that big goat is out... no not that one, the other big goat."

It is a hard thing to do to take an animal you've been raising for a couple of years out to the hanging tree and put one in the back of his head. Originally we didn't really plan to butcher him, but over time we realized we didn't need him as a sire any more and he was the biggest meat goat we had. Not to mention the fact that he gave us more problems than any of the other goats since he could easily hop the fence and none of the others can. If I had the chance we'd probably go back and butcher him the fall after we got him, but he gave a lot more meat this way (even if it does have to be pressure cooked and such).

My dad came over and we got things ready and started the process around 10-11ish I think. It took way longer than we were expecting. That was in part due to the fact that three Crowsons have a tendency to over-think everything and second guess each other quite often. The skinning took the longest amount of time due to a few reasons: we were trying to be extremely careful not to get any buck smell on the meat, we were trying to keep the hide as intact as possible, and none of the how-to books I have really explain how to skin around the male genitalia safely. I actually tried to find some info on this Saturday night, since I wasn't sure about how to handle an intact buck when butchering (since most people butcher wethers or castrated males). Some folks said you should never do it cause the meat will be bad. Some folks said that you should just give them a bath before hand. And some folks said that as long as they weren't in rut it wouldn't matter. We decided to go with a quick bath.

The actual butchering or sectioning of the meat didn't take that long. The cutting up and packaging of the meat did take us quite a while though (and we have quite a few large shoulders and roasts packaged whole). I was going to grind a bunch into hamburger, but the grinder we had was old and missing parts and the meat I did try to grind through it came out smelling funny because the grinder was so old and metallic I think. So all the meat I was going to grind just got labeled as stew meat instead.

The whole process has been hard for Lindsay to deal with since she has vegetarian tendencies anyway (which I do respect). After a few days in the doghouse I think I am out of the woods for a little bit now. She realizes the practicality of it, but she has always had a problem eating animals when she really thinks about it. Maybe she'll write an entry about it...

Finn understands that chickens are killed and made into nuggets and eaten, but I don't think he can grasp that goats are the same way. He doesn't like the chickens as much, so I assume that is why the thought of killing them doesn't bother him as much. Yesterday he saw me moving the salted goat hide from the back of my truck when I didn't mean for him to. He immediately knew what it was, and had started figuring on what we had done. I started to have a talk with him about it, but he is not quite to the point where he can grasp the situation yet. Almost. So we just had to change the story slightly to "Mr. Goat went to go be with his family on another farm somewhere." Which didn't fully fly with him either since: "His family is here on our farm." But I just pushed that he went to a new farm for the time being. Might not be the most tactful strategy, but I had to come up with something on the fly cause that 3 year old is swift...

We had our first bit of goat barbecue last night. The taste was great! But it was a bit tough. I didn't pressure cook this batch, and it was from the neck, so I am hoping with some slow cooking or pressure cooking it tenderizes a bit next time. I think I might try a crockpot style barbecue tomorrow and maybe that will loosen it up some. There was no gamey or off-flavor at all in the meat we ate last night. I don't know if the bath worked, or if the other people just did something wrong or had very delicate tastes.

So, do I plan on butchering any more goats? Not soon, but yes. The hardest part of the whole process is the actual killing of the animal. Once that is over it isn't really that bad. It is a lot of work though; the skin was a lot harder for us to remove than a deer hide (but he was 3 years old give or take). The next thing we have to do related to animals around here is butcher a mess of roosters and castrate the two buck kids we had this winter. Not really looking forward to either job, but they are both things we need to do....

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Yours Truly,
The Crowsons