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Butchery / personal intro

 
J Hampshire
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Greetings,

My name is Justin. I cut meat for a living.

My wife Erica and I are a couple 30-somethings who have been going down the road of homesteading and a self-sustaining lifestyle since we met. The foundation of our life simply being a marrow-deep appreciation for space and silence. 'Some veggies would be cool/I wonder if we could actually raise animals' were topics of discussion early on. But with each passing day we craved more. More information, more connections, more know-how. About a month ago I found Permies and this is simply THE community we've been in search of. So much knowledge to absorb. It's becoming an incredible resource.

I fell in love with meat cutting a while ago and never looked back. I knew it was for me when I participated in the butchering of a 250lb. organically raised heritage Berkshire hog from pasture to plate with a local farmer. Dispatch, blood preservation, gambrel tendons, scalding, scraping, eviscerating, halving... it was other-worldly. Sitting on that porch in the September sun, overlooking an 11 acre apple orchard was a defining moment in my life. Subsequently, the quick-pickled kidneys and seared heart on homemade crusty bread with ice cold beer in hand was without question the greatest meal of my life. Seeing an animal go from this plain of reality to the next, and using every inch of it along the way ignited something unspeakably powerful in me. That's the short version.

This forum doesn't have (not that it necessarily needs) a butchery section. Sometimes too much segregation of topics is a bad thing; Frankly I think it's a bit cluttered as is :/ ... Anyhow! I just wanted to drop in and mention how wonderful you all are and hopefully contribute some meat-based info. Heck, maybe more. If you even have a passing interest in meat, where it comes from, more info about all this "grass fed" marketing and other confusing terms... PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE read Cole Ward's book The Gourmet Butcher's Guide to Meat: How to Source it Ethically, Cut it Professionally, and Prepare it Properly. Part of my personal review from Amazon...

--
Mr. Ward's book is without hesitation, the single greatest resource I've read as it relates to butchery and the meat industry itself. His no-nonsense, digestible and easily retainable manner of writing is excellent.

You need this if;
You're interested in the history and practices of the meat industry (both positive and negative)
You're looking for new insight/truth in the whole 'grass-fed' argument
You're an apprentice meat cutter who wants to read anything they can get their hands on related to the subject
You're a home chef or hobbyist butcher looking to expand their repertoire and knowledge of meat
--


Thank you all so much. We look forward to participating and contributing!

J&E
 
Miles Flansburg
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Howdy Justin, welcome to permies!

Here is a thread you might enjoy.

http://www.permies.com/t/27027/labs/Farmstead-Meatsmith-Workshops-Oct
 
David Dodge
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Great intro, Justin. I would second the butchery section being added to Permies. I have 5 Red Wattle hogs that are about 3 moths away from being in my freezer and I'm not quite sure how they will get there. We have several great meat markets in town and a regionally famous sausage house but nobody will take a farm hog in a 50-mile radius. They accept dead feral hogs all day long but not a live farm hog. What's that all about? Is it the slaughter that's being phased out of the meat markets or some kind of USDA red tape issue?

It's looking more and more like I'll be taking on the task. I can do it, I just don't know that I can do it well (enough to sell the product). Thanks for the Cole Ward book recommendation. I came across his stuff along with The Farmstead Meatsmith, which I thought was really cool. I'd like to bring back some of the meat preparation heritage that we've lost and it would be nice to have someone local to learn from. Any Texas butchers out there? Barring that I guess videos and bloody hands will have to suffice for now. With all the hobby farms springing up I see a real need for a mobile abattoir in this area, but other than chicken processing I have yet to find one.

My ultimate goal would be to raise pastured hogs for sale that are butchered professionally and keep one for myself each year that I could process. Sausage making, charcuterie, and Cochon de Lait are all hobbies I could see adding to the list of "some day." Heck, I wouldn't know what to do with myself if I could actually make my own BACON...
 
Su Ba
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Welcome Justin!

A butchery section is needed in permies.com, in my opinion. It's just that I field plenty of questions from new people in my own location, so I'm sure there are plenty here on permies.com who have those questions too. I'm not experienced enough to answer most questions, so I'd love to have some place that I could send people.

Kind of questions I get...
...how do I humanely dispatch a chicken, rabbit, pig, sheep, goat, cow?
...can I use a 22 rifle/pistol?
...what size ammo must I use?
...how soon do they have to be bled?
...where do I make a cut for bleeding?
...how do I scald a pig without using a giant tub?
...can I skin a pig, chicken, duck, turkey?
...how soon after bleeding does the carcass need to be cut up?
...how soon after killing must the meat go into a refrigerator?
...should the meat be cooled in ice water? Before or after cutting up?
...will storing in a cold refrigerator make all animals' meat tenderer?
...how many days should the meat be chilled?
...how do you cut a sheep, goat, or pig in half?
...what home style tools can I use for home butchering?
...if I use a chainsaw, what kind if oil should I use in place of bar oil?
...can I use a saws all? Or a circular saw? A hatchet?
...how do I keep fecal material from escaping out the anus?
...how long should I hold food from the animal before killing it?
...what should I do if I accidentally cut the intestine?
...can I make chops without having to saw through the rib bones?
...what kind of saw will cut bones?
...does the meat have to be soaked in water to get out the blood?
...at what age should I slaughter a chicken, goat, sheep, pig, cow?
...how long, timewise, does it take to slaughter and butcher out an animal from start to finish?
...after killing a pig, should I wash the body before cutting it up?

I hear dozens and dozens of more questions, but these are the common ones.
 
Cj Sloane
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J Hampshire wrote:
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE read Cole Ward's book The Gourmet Butcher's Guide to Meat: How to Source it Ethically, Cut it Professionally, and Prepare it Properly.


I haven't read the book but attended a hog butchering workshop with him here in Vermont. He was was great teacher & occasionally still gives workshops in the area.
 
J Hampshire
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Wowzers, you guys are great!

Upon re-reading my original post I do want to make it a little more clear that I've not been doing it for any length of significant time. I'm a quick study and have been at it for a little while; But by no means an expert. I don't even like to call myself a butcher yet. I consider myself a 'meat cutter' right now. Knowing so many old-schoolers that have 20, 30 or more years under their belt. I find it insulting to use the same moniker as them.

David Dodge:
Good stuff! An excellent attitude about bringing back real butchery. It is a craft. Although it has dwindled down to almost nothing, luckily the uprising is well underway. In a recent short I watched on artisan butchers there is a quote I fell in love with; "Small, independent butchers are the fulcrum of a local food system." I have recently become friendly with the owners of a small shop in my area that supplies only animals sourced within 100 miles, and meets their personal standards. Which are super-restrictive. They're the only whole-animal butchery storefront within many, many miles. All their products are simply amazing, the passion is palpable. I would love to eventually work somewhere like that or run my own place like it. To your point about a mobile abattoir -- that's actually at the top of my list for the next level of my journey. I've deeply considered making that the niche part of the craft I wish to explore; As any other meat cutter should (in my opinion). With all the tiny places raising animals that don't have the cutting know-how, it could be a fantastic opportunity depending on your proximity to livestock farmers. It's an incredibly under-valued/under-thought piece of the food system.

I would just get in touch with any and every pig farmer you can find within driving distance. Just offer up a helping hand and show eagerness to learn, etc. Hell look at me -- I emailed the very first one I found and he said "Wow, you're in luck. I run a seminar a couple times a year and one is next week, want in?" A year later, I cut meat for a living.

PS; The Farmstead Meatsmith is a fantastic resource from what I've seen. I look forward to their development, they're doing damn good things.


Su Ba:
Maybe permies does need a butchery section after all. Great points! I'll try to be as active as I can, in the meantime let's spread the word and muster up some excitement for it's very own section.

 
William Bronson
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Thanks for sharing your experiences. Perhaps you could reveal the reason for bleeding a carcass. I know the religious objections to blood but what is the practical reason behind this practice?
 
Aaron Althouse
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William Bronson wrote: Thanks for sharing your experiences. Perhaps you could reveal the reason for bleeding a carcass. I know the religious objections to blood but what is the practical reason behind this practice?


For many animals, bleeding out is what actually kills the animal, since typically it is only stunned prior to sticking. No (or insufficient) bleeding leaves a relatively high amount of blood in the muscle, which means that the meat will not reach the desired degree of acidity and its storage/processing time is, in turn, reduced. Also, there is some value in saving the blood for edibles, such as making blood sausages.

-AA
 
William Bronson
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Thank you! I figured it might have to do with preservation, that it is the actual cause of death id a surprise. How would a carcass full of blood taste compared to what we are used to?
 
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