Home Grown ... Raising Animals and Plants for Food
Farm with cow and calf
A Brown Swiss Named Sweet Pea
If you read my other hubs, you know that my husband, born and raised in a large city, yearned to have a farm and raise livestock. I, myself, born and raised on a real farm with livestock and crops, was somewhat less enthusiastic. Memories of flies, odors, and other disagreeable recollections curtailed my usual delight in a new project.
Crow (my husband's pseudonym in my hubs) purchased a Brown Swiss already named Sweet Pea. She was gentle and produced large quantities of milk. (I wrote about my cheese-making exploits in a previous hub.) Luckily, the first two calves from Sweet Pea were females and we sold these to a rancher who thought Sweet Pea had excellent babies. When we did that, I was thinking about some income to pay for the grain we had been purchasing. At the same time, Crow was thinking about a male that, later on, we could enjoy as steaks, hamburgers, and roasts.
He got his wish ... a totally red male calf that he named Red. I'm sure that most of you have heard the expression "Don't name your food!". Our three children were, by that time, under the age of five and called out to Red every chance they had. Although he was not large yet, Sweet Pea was extremely protective so they kept their distance. Growing up as I did, we were not allowed to refer to gender so I will merely say that Red's daddy was a Hereford and obviously not a white-faced one. I also will not comment on how Sweet Pea was able to bear a calf when no male was around except to say "Yuck!".
When Red was the appropriate age to be referred to as 'meat on the hoof', I caught Crow leafing through my Joy of Cooking. Later in the day, I also looked at that cookbook and found the bright red swatch separating two pages. Before long, those two pages would have red from another source splashed on them.
Crow's guide to meat cutting
Crow's next project ... three little pigs
Since the beef was so very good, Crow decided to purchase three young pigs. While we had to keep them penned up, it was a large area and again they ate healthful food. I am sure you guessed what happened. When looking at the diagrams of beef cuts in my Joy of Cooking, he had noticed that the pork page followed. He knew that pigs are smaller than beef cattle and easier to handle.
By the time it was appropriate for the pigs to be butchered, Crow had made a list of what to do when. A few years earlier, he had assisted (watched) one of my brothers preparing the carcass. I won't say more about this process other than another "Yuck!!".
We decided to make link sausage, rather than patties. I remember my brothers hauling a washtub full of pig intestines so that my mother could clean them. First, she would make sure that all of the undigested food was removed and then would scrape UNSUB residue off both the inside and outside of the intestines. Of course, there could be no perforations of said intestines. One of her favorite sayings was "A job worth doing is worth doing well" ... I don't know how she did it so very well.
Anyway. we used the sausage attachment for my KitchenAid stand mixer and it worked quite well. My youngest, about two or three then, watched the 'pooping out' process with fearful fascination. Just FYI, my mother fried sausage patties, packed them in a stone crock jar, and covered it all with melted lard and then a glass plate with a heavy rock on top. Those were the days of hard work but good food which did not need labels.
Preparing meat for the freezer
When we lived on the Western Slope of Colorado, we had participated in processing antelopes so Crow believed that that experience and the pictures shown above would guide him through an appropriate procedure with Red. Actually, he did quite well, using a movable large counter in our country style kitchen on which the now blood-splattered cookbook was propped upon. My assigned task was to wrap the meat in freezer paper, label the contents, and stow in the freezer as quickly as possible.
Crow said recently that we had rented a meat grinder to make the hamburger. I don't remember that at all. I have never forgotten, however, that as a child I helped with the grinding process. We had a plank that was about six feet long and six inches wide with a grinder bolted to the middle. The plank rested on two chairs and it was my job to sit on one end and a brother sat on the other end. I was the youngest and, of course, was lighter in weight than my brothers. I tried my best to cling to the chair seat and hold the plank down. If not, when the plank moved, it pinched the back of my legs. So ... renting the electric grinder seemed like an excellent idea.
Actually, the cutting and preparing turned out very well and much better than I had expected. By the way, corn fed and free range is the way to go. The meat was very tender and tasty.
Pork cuts; mixer and grinder attachments
Crow was really into this home grown, know what the animals eat, and what we eat sort of thing. We ate our own turkeys for Thanksgiving, a goose for Christmas, and raised chickens for eggs and meat also.
We also had an extensive garden so there were plenty of home grown insecticide-free vegetables and fruits.