Thursday, November 19, 2009

Honoring the livestock

We spoke with Keizer AA Meats this week and it looks like they'll be out to butcher our steers on December 8th. We approach this day with mixed feelings, because above all we do love our animals and make every effort to ensure they are happy and healthy. Douglas Fir of Seven Trees was conceived here, born here, and will end his life here. He is the only offspring of a purebred Dexter cow, Stella who we no longer own, and it is doubtful as long as we both must work fulltime off farm that we'll have another milk cow again soon. When Douglas and Buddy are gone it will not just be the end of their lives, it ends a cycle here at the farm that will not be repeated again for a long while. It is only appropriate as we close this circle that we make the absolute most of these animals to honor their sacrifice that we may eat meat that we raised with a considerable effort on our own land.

We are keeping Douglas's hide and will be quickly transporting it to Quil Ceda Leather Company in Marysville, Washington where it will be tanned with hair on. We are also thinking of the other products of home butchered animals to make that most people these days never consider, let alone eat or make any more.
One of these is blood sausage or black pudding as it is known in the UK, Blutwurst [Germany], or Boudin Noir [France]. Essentially it is a sausage made with blood cooked with regional fillers like barley, heavy cream, onion, potato, bread, fat, suet or some variation of these items, and then placed in casings to be grilled or boiled in skin and eaten. We'll collect a gallon or two of blood from one of the steers at butcher in a sterile stainless milk pail so we can try making this sausage.

1# Leaf Lard
10# Onions, diced
1 quart heavy cream
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
1 Tbsp Pate spice
1/2 gallon beef blood
Pork casings

Nordic cultures, Swedes, Finns, etc. aso make something that is known in Swedish as Blodplattar or blood pancakes - click the link for recipe. These are a savory pancake with fresh blood as one of the main ingredients, and are traditionally eaten with lingonberry jam.

We will also keep the tongues, liver, heart, bones for soup, and whatever else we can for either our consumption or to stew up as homemade dog food, which we pressure can and the dogs adore.
While it is rather unsusual for most people to have a hand in the slaughter of the meat they consume these days, it is something we felt it was very important to do. There was no factory in the raising of our meat. Our cattle have lived good lives, they frolicked in the sun, slept in our pastures of green grass, ate until their bellies were full, had shade and shelter from wind/rain/snow, and were treated each day with care and dignity. We will honor all they gave us in sustenance and the pleasure of knowing the food we eat.


Anonymous said...

As I read what you wrote about Honoring the Livestock,I felt overwhelmed and a little weepy. As I know your feelings. We butchered our Dexter steer last YR. His name was Steve. We honor Steve every time we eat him, We dont say we are having Roast tonight. We say we are having Steve tonight. It is how we honor him every time we eat him.
So thank you for the post. I thought it was beautiful. I look forward to following along with all the different things your plan to doing.

Chief Dexter Wrangler, Dani said...

Thank you.

Truth is, I felt weepy as I wrote this post and I am so glad that we aren't the only ones who feel this way.

Having cattle on our place connected us to our land and even our ancestors in ways that we never imagined. We also learned so very much about the animals and ourselves in this process. These won't be our last cattle, and we're planning for wiener pigs come spring.

Thanks for commenting and reading our blog, and good luck too in your farming endeavors!

Jannette said...

Well I sure got weepy when I read the post, but it is so good to know that the meat that will be eaten at Seven Trees comes from cows that have had the best possible life.

I still remember the tubs of 1/2 a cow or pig in our pantry, my mother and me packing them into bags for the freezer. Vacuum packaging was done by sucking the air out of the bags via ones mouth after transferring the meat into the bags. A very tactile way of preparing for meat storage.

How good for the cows as well, that their life will end on the farm, instead of transporting them away.

Best to you on the day.

Oldnovice said...

Color me another weepy reader.

I'd heard of (and agree with) the tradition of some to thank the animal each time it's eaten, and I think what you wrote here, Dani, is a great addition to that.


Chief Dexter Wrangler Dani said...

J - your mom is amazing that she did all that herself as well as involved you in processing and packaging! I too am glad that they need not have the trauma of being hauled someplace.

ON - I believe we'll have to take up that tradition as well. Thank you.

nova said...

I suppose for those who do it a lot it is just another job. Chop wood. Cut head off chicken. Haul water.

I remember when I was young look at animals, such as rabbits, getting gutted, and thinking "So that's what the gutsies look like." I think squeamish comes with age.

Seven Trees said...

Hi Nova!
I've been absent CR and your story a while. Hopefully I can catch up over the long weekend...

As far as critter-butchering, I think there should be a middle ground between the factory farm experience and ritual sacrifice. Maybe like the old-fashioned village knacker....

Saara said...

The Finns also make a blood bread which is a rye bread. It's always a favorite at school, perhaps surprisingly. In general, it tends to be sought after since it's not sold in stores.