Friday, October 1, 2010

Butchering Season

Fall has come. My favorite season. I don't know why, perhaps I feel more at rest knowing there is less daylight and more time to be spent resting indoors than during the spring and summer. Mulching plants and harvesting, finishing up projects and making sure the barns are full and the animals will be cozy. Cool mornings of mist and fresh, clean air after a good rain wash away the heat and dusty dryness of summer.

"No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in one autumnal face."

Now about this post's 'lovely' title...

The last few weeks were a blur of activity: pigs, Chuck Roast, meat chickens and spent hens are finally in the freezer and the extras sold. With our good friends and neighbors, we held our second chicken butchering day of the year, and were able to butcher a few turkeys as well (you haven't seen guts 'till you've eviscerated a 30 lb tom!). Yes, heartless is my middle name ;)

No really, I was blessed to watch or participate in all of the fall butchering and processing that goes with it.

I learned how delicious old stewing hens are when put in a roaster and boiled for 12 hours or so, then the broth is poured off and saved for chicken soup (including all that nutritious fat!)while the tender, flavorful meat is taken off the bones and saved for use in meals.

Also, when you ask the abattoir for the 'leaf fat' from around pigs' kidneys, he will be impressed and more than willing to give them to you for a song. Render these pieces with a bit of water, and you are left with pure white lard for making pastry crusts. Then ask for the fatback and render that as well. It is brownish in color, and will surely taste like pork, but I can't wait to use it as well.

Then there's tallow and beef gelatin, which you can obtain from the boxes of bones that you reserve from your beef steer - I use the tallow exclusively for soap-making, as it is a lovely hard fat that makes a forgiving batch of soap. The beef gelatin my family abhors, but I love the smell and enjoy a savory French Onion soup come those cold winter evenings!

'Eat your heart out' takes a new meaning when you marinate and cook up a beef heart. Pretty disgusting if you allow yourself to think about what you are eating, but I can tell you it's better than liver.

I still haven't learned how to properly prepare liver. Chicken liver is better than beef, but still... yeck. Most of the animal organs go to the chickens who go nuts over them, as well as curded skim milk. Chickens will also clean up the area where butchering takes place, and even eat the feathers. Gross as it sounds (the little cannibals), it probably is not a big deal for omnivores to eat animal products, even of their own kind.

Forgive my ramblin' on! It is nice to wrap up these different projects and focus on the dairy business for a season.

God is good.


Gwennie said...

And strangely enough, I'm not a bit grossed out...

I'm so glad you're enjoying the fruits of your farming!

Happy Fall!! : )

King's child said...

Aw shucks. I can't believe I missed out on the second round of butchering. ;) Don't have too much fun out there without me!! :D