Saturday, April 27, 2013


This is not a sweet and fuzzy tale. But it is a fact of life. "The story of grass fed beef" dun-dun-dun.

 This was Vindicator my sweet, darling little Hereford/ dairy cross calf.

He was so sweet, and small. My mom got him, and another calf for beef steers. Then he got sick, so sick he wouldn't move. She expected him to die. We prayed over him, I took care of him, making sure that he got fluids, medicine, moved around, and forced to eat. I pretty much stayed in his pen 24/7 caring for him until he got better. Thats when I claimed him. "I saved him, he's mine." I thought I would train him up to ride (yah, people really do ride cows, just like horses). I halter trained him. Taught him to pick up his feet. I would sit on him when he was laying in the pasture, but he never mellowed out enough to ride. He liked to bounce around like a calf, and was very headstrong (like a typical cow). And he grew, and grew. My health insurance ended and my parents said "No trying to ride that cow!" We moved the cows over to the neighbors 4 acre pasture. And he grew, and grew some more. Then he started jumping, and smashing down fences! So it was time for him to go. He was to big for me to feel safe handling, and was doing damage.  He was over 2 years old now. There is only one place for a steer to go, and thats the freezer.
If you do not feel comfortable seeing pictures of how a steak ends up on your table, you better stop reading.

 Here he is lounging in the neighbors pasture.

We brought him home the morning of... I groomed him up, which he greatly enjoyed. I think it is cruel to stress an animal out before butchering. I think they should be happy till the end. We let him graze on the grass around the yard and gave him lots of alfalfa.

He was taller than me.

 Containers to put the unwanted innards in, that will be buried.

 The butcher backing in. That's when I shut myself in the bathroom, turned on the vent for noise, and waited for it to be over. I just couldn't be there for the shooting. My mom came in and got me after he was shot, and the head was removed. She said that he never saw it coming. He was happy eating when he was shot, and instantly killed. The actual skinning, and cutting up the body process didn't bother me at all. In fact I found it rather interesting how they do it.
I started photographing again when my Mom reminded me. So some of the process is missing.

 Frank (the butcher) removing the hide. Can you believe he's 76. He told me his Grandfather was a butcher, so thats how he learned.

 They were gathering the intestines. Cutting them into sections as they removed them. Then the assistant rinsed them out, and took them home.
They said they taste good. I guess waste not, want not.

 Chablis didn't care at all about what was going on. She layed around watching the whole thing. But gave me a snotty look for taking her picture.

 Cutting it into quarters to fit it in the truck.

We should get the meat back in 2 weeks after being cut and wrapped.
Frank said Vindicator weighed about 1800 pounds, and his hanging weight should be about 800 pounds.

 I did not want to let the hide go to waste. But it would be about $700 to have it tanned. So me, and my Mom are giving tanning a try.

 I washed off one side, then my mom helped me flip it over and I washed the other.

 He even left the head and ears intact on the hide. We cut it off though. It would have been to hard to defat.

He sure had a beautiful coat pattern.

My Mom helped me flip it over onto the tarp. Then we cut as much fat, and meat off as possible. I could hardly keep Sumiko the cat away, before I started defatting the hide. As we cut off pieces of fat and meat we tossed it on the lawn and it instantly dissapeared thanks to Petunia, Vicky, and Sumiko. Then we drug the hide on its tarp into the shade of the mulberry tree in the backyard, and began salting it. It took 150 pounds of salt. Hopefully we will do a good job, and not screw it up. The tanning books say to start with something small, like a rabbit skin. Haha thats for babies! Just kidding. I will try to do a post on the rest of the tanning process. That is if we didn't already fail at the salting, and drying part.



Kristin said...

What great pictures! I'm sure those steaks are going to taste amazing. Good luck with the tanning. Keep us updated!

An At Home Daughter said...

I know that the pictures are very bloody and shocking to some, but I didn't want to cut any of that out, because I wanted to show it as it is.
I don't know how good the steaks are going to taste to me, but I guess I will get used to it.
The tanning is a rather daunting task, but I am excited to see how it turns out.


Kelly said...

That cow was HUGE!!!!! Can't wait to see how the tanning turns out.

Kris said...

He sure was a big steer. You'll get a lot of meat. I am so impressed with the tanning. I hope it does work. And I'll be checking back to see how it's going. Thanks so much for sharing with us. Very interesting. I sure wish I had someone to come butcher here for me.

An At Home Daughter said...

Wow, you do your own butchering!? Or do you have to haul the animals to the butcher?
I know mobile butchers don't seem to advertise their services. It seems you have to hunt them down.


Jolie (: said...

eh.... you actually fed my dog that?!
I shouldn't have looked at this post... I felt light headed from looking at the pictures...
to think about how I knew him as a baby and now he's butchered...
don't try to send any meat please!
I love beef but I don't eat the animals I know

An At Home Daughter said...

I didn't make Petunia eat it. She was in the yard, and decided to help herself ;)
If you were here to see all the fencing he smashed down, you would change your mind about eating him.


Farm Girl Hannah said...

My, My, he was big! We found a "mobile Butcher" Advertised in our weekly "newspaper"! This will be the first time we use them though. We've always brought them in to a butcher. We would do it ourselves but have no way of hanging them up :-(

TrueFemininity said...

How neat that you're trying something new like tanning hides! I hope it turns out well.

An At Home Daughter said...

True Femininity~
I hope it turns out well too, or it's going to be a waste of a beautiful hide. So far the drying proccess was fine. But I can't get started with the rest of the proccess till I figure something out to stretch it with. But as soon as I do I will post a follow up.


Tiffany said...

Kimberly--I'll be looking forward to your follow up post then! (This is "True Femininity" I've made a new blog so I'm writing this from a different account)

I found your blog through Rural Revolution and have really enjoyed your posts. It's a dream of mine to own goats one day.

An At Home Daughter said...

I followed your new blog, and look forward to your future posts.

I hope you fulfull that dream. Goats are wonderful animals, and their babies provide so much humor.