Today has been a day of getting some dirty stuff done. I’m not gonna lie, Steve has been busy! I can’t help it, there are things I just won’t do in this life unless it means life or death for my family, and only then if Steve were not able! One of those things is killing livestock for processing. I can help with processing and actually have great interest in that. However, the actual lights out. .. not me.
Romeo and Mercutio came to us a couple months after we got our first (and only) two Katahdin ewes. The four of them immediately fell hopelessly in love!
A few months later, Mercutio came out as the dominant ram and both ewes became pregnant. Romeo remained my sweet boy who was more like a dog than a sheep. He loved to have his head scratched and followed me as if I we’re his mom. Unfortunately, he matured and became a huge pain. Tearing through electric fences, putting the other sheep in jeopardy, breaking into the ewe lot and running our American Blackbelly ewe to exhaustion. Romeo finally became an item on the menu. One of the many hard truths I’ve had to learn.
This is our second slaughter. I’m a natural shepherd, Steve is a natural family feeder, and he’s amazing at it. God answered every prayer I ever prayed for a mate.
He took Romeo to the back pasture and feed him corn, said a prayer for him, thanked him, then released his sweet soul via .38 revolver. Thank you, Romeo, for feeding my family.
We hang with our tractor. His body was so fat it pulled the hydraulics down. Steve had a couple fun moments while taking off the hide… just another left over from Romeo’s trouble-making personality I guess.
Steve saved the caul fat for me! I’ve never used it but have seen it all the time on cooking shows. Mostly they use pig caul fat, but I have sheep! It smells like stink. Not horrific stink, but barnyard. I soaked it in regular water for about an hour. Then I soaked it overnight in plain white vinegar. The next day I rinsed and soaked in regular water for another hour, dried it then vacuum sealed for the freezer. Apparently it freezes wonderfully and for long periods of time. You wrap it around meat to keep it moist and it flavors the meat when the fat melts. I’m sure it’s yummy.
The carcass hung in the garage with fans blowing on it to help it dry. It’s much easier to handle when it’s firm and dry. Afterward, though, Steve got the idea of turning an upright freezer into a meat closet. After finding one on Craig’s List and driving to Maryville, he discovered the shelves wouldn’t remove. Luckily the same people were selling a side by side and he bought that instead. He and our son are working on the final product, so I’m waiting to post pics of that.
This is the video Steve watched while butchering Scaredy Cat’s carcass and this is the book we bought at the Simple Living Expo in Alabama last month. One day he’ll be as good as the video. This book is highly recommended. Highly!
Steve is a busy man.
So! What have I done today? ? Well, I’ve watched the girls, fed the girls, broke up girls’ fights. I’ve unloaded and loaded the dishwasher. I bought a hay and grain feeder from the neighbor. OH, and I’ve also cooked lamb testicles. But that’s for another blog.
I’ve also said goodbye to a sweet sheep.
Being a farmer and shepherd isn’t easy. Especially on the heart most of the time. You have to make some pretty strong decisions regarding life and death, and that’s NOT including the normal slaughter. I know why we have sheep, and it’s not for pets. Although, yes, my bottle ram is going to be a pet for as long as God decides to leave him here with me. However, on a normal day, we have the sheep for food. We give them wonderful happy lives. We love on them as much as they let us and we make sure they are as happy as we can possibly make them. We give them names because they deserve that. We have spent more money on those animals with food, shelter and medical than I have on my own kids these past two years. Not kidding. But it’s worth it. I love them. We give them happy stress free lives, and they give us life in return. I’m happier eating the meat of a sweet ram, than the meat of an animal that didn’t have the love and happiness inside of a slaughter house. I like knowing what my family puts into their bodies. I like knowing we eat clean. Mostly I like knowing our animals have it made. They aren’t ripped from their babies immediately after giving birth, but they do get chased by the crazy shepherd lady with fly spray. They get pedicures and vaccinations. They get help with the stubborn wool that wont come off their backs. The treats…they get yummy treats. So they tolerate me.
Romeo was happy. FAT and happy. He actually invented fat and happy. I hugged him and kissed his snout and told him goodbye. I have zero regrets with him. After his soul was released, the body was a carcass given by God to feed my family in the way He intended. That’s how I see it. That’s how it is. So thank you, sweet Romeo. Thank you for feeding my family.