Monday, November 4, 2013

Slaughtering and Butchering Lambs

I first captured the lambs in the holding pen and then used a sling and the tractor to weigh and transport them.

If this makes you feel sad, join the club.  Beautiful animals have to die for you to eat meat.  When you do it yourself to animals that you have raised this becomes intensely real and personal.  The words slaughter and butcher are harsh words, and the reality of it is just as harsh.  My respect for both the animals and the people that work in slaughterhouses grew immensely.  It is messy, brutal work, and we that eat meat owe these people our gratitude. 

Skinning a lamb is hard physical work, much harder than I expected.

One the hide is off, the rest is easy.  A sheep is basically a big fermenting tank on legs.  It is this equipment that turns grass into meat and wool.

Finally, number 3, the last lamb.  I started working at nine in the morning and finished just before seven.  There are harder ways to make a living, but this ranks right up there with shingling roofs and digging out crawl spaces.  By the end of the day my fingers were aching, my back was sore and I was asking myself what form of insanity had caused me to raise sheep.

Fortunately, even the darkest day passes and with the morning hope spring anew.  Here we see the Kilpela butcher shop, complete with bandsaw and table saw covered with freezer paper, and two excellent instructional sources. No I didn't use the tablesaw, but it served as a good table. 

 Alive these lambs weighed 64, 90 and 92 pounds respectively.  The cutting weight (after the head, hide and guts are removed) is in the 30-40 pound range.

I need to flesh the hides and salt them.  I'm hoping to tan these; they would make beautiful pelts.

Bandsaw, I love you!  You turned a difficult job into a ridiculously easy task.  It only took me about two hours to do all three lambs, and much of that time was spent waiting for packing department to catch up.

Zing, those lamb chops pile up!

Johnny had the hard job, packaging the meat in freezer paper.  I guess that makes him a meat packer, which was the namesake of the Green Bay Packers.  I'm sure the guys that sawed those big steers into pieces with handsaws were a burly bunch, unafraid to take on lions, bears or giants.

Lamb chops, ribs, flanks...

The survivors - three mothers and two daughters, our breeding stock.

Jonathan's Final Collegiate XC Meet

Johnny finished off his Tech Cross Country career with one last lap around the old MTU trail.

Starting strong.

Chasing the leaders.

Down "Pine."

Catching No. 267

Passing 267

Powering up Hairpin,  267 back ahead.

Making it hurt

Up the final stretch to the finish line.