Friday, July 27, 2012

Adventures in Farming - WARNING, GRAPHIC

This will be a very graphic post...not one for the faint of heart.

Due to a series of unfortunate events, some within and some beyond our control and or knowledge level, we slaughtered our cows yesterday.  If you do not wish to see pictures of this, STOP HERE!
If however, you have a strong stomach, you are welcome to continue, and see what was actually a very education experience...or at least it will be once my girls get to a place where they can look at the pictures, lol!  (The 4 olders started out watching.  Brianna was the first to be sent in, followed by Bailey, then closely followed by Ashley, and finally, Anna decided she couldn't take it anymore.  I almost followed Anna in, but knowing my husband wanted to see some pics from this, as he had to be at work, I stuck it out - and really, Anna left at the worst part.)

We made a poor choice in waiting to castrate the calves.  I was told by someone over the phone, who I spoke with for quite some time, that he doesn't like to castrate too early as they grow better before that point, so he waits until 6-8 months.  We tried to do the same thing, but were unable at 6 months old, to get the bands over their testicles.  We tried to come up with a new plan, using zip ties, but that didn't work.  We ended up having to call a vet out, who said that there isn't anything she can really do.  We could have tried expensive antibiotics and antibiotic food for them, but it may not have been able to get the infection, so we could have still ended up with (now a very expensive) nothing.  The vet's recommendation was to put them down, or to butcher them and get what we can from them, even though they are very young.

So that is what we planned to do...

Then the neighbor (who is/was a lumber jack), decided to take a row of trees out between our property.  He wanted to make it so we could help keep an eye on his place as he has had several break ins and vandalism lately.  He asked if he could fell the trees into our pasture.  We asked about the fence.  He said he would drop them over the fence, and it would be fine.  We asked to be informed before he got started so we could close gates and keep the cows from getting into the front and side fields...

First, his guys didn't tell us when they were getting started  (Fortunately, my children are observant, and came to let us know.  Chris was able to make sure the cows were safely into the back field.

Then, they completely took out the fence between the 2 properties along BOTH of the fields...

Shortly after this happened, we began having trouble keeping cows in the back pasture...they were getting out on THREE sides.  It became a full time job just making sure they were all here and on our property!

While trying to repair one of the sides, Steak reached into the box of U-nails and ate several of them.  After some research, we found it to be a number one killer of family cows...

The end result of this was that we decided to butcher all 3 cows and get what we can meat wise.  The plan is to repair fences and get ready to start fresh with a good deal more knowledge next year.

So that brings us to today.  The older 4 and I watched from a distance as they took all 3 of the animals down, using a single riffle shot.  That was hard to watch, especially when steak, who had started walking closer to us when he was taken down, kept twitching...I will spare you the video that I took for my husband.

Notice Ashley's look of horror mixed with disbelief as they
put the cows down.
Actually, I found the whole thing start hard to watch, right up until they took off the heads...then it didn't seem so personal for me. 

At this point, it looked to me like a giant turkey!

Gus and Scott worked quickly and skillfully to skin and clean
all 3 of them!

Lifting up one of the calves on the hoist and finishing getting
the skin off, and pulling the guts out (that is the bag looking
thing that is hanging out of the abdomin in this pic).

They cut the carcass in quarters before putting it on the truck.
Here they are using the bone cutter to cut it in half.

Here are the quarters being loaded up on the truck.

They cleaned everything well...

And off they went!  In total it took about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
The whole thing was actually pretty interesting.  It was pretty quick, and they left very little mess.  Gus and Scott were very professional...while the girls spent a good portion of the day crying after this, I think it is just part of the learning process when raising meat animals...we shall see what happens this weekend when we kill the rooster...

1 comment:

  1. Wow, that is a lesson learned. I am sorry to hear that you had to put all three down before you were ready. It looks like they did a good job. Will you keep the hides? If so, what will you do with them? Well, you will get some meat out of it. Probably some good tender veal from the two smaller ones.