End of the line for #44

I’ve previously written about #44 and the trouble we’ve been having with him. Despite all the work done to him and all the consultations with the vet, things just didn’t work out. Miguel and I both separately noticed that he was laying down and both met in the barn yard to go look at him. I grabbed my doctor bag thinking maybe the trocar in him was blocked and he’d be ok if I could clear it but when we got to him we found that he was just feeling poorly and there wasn’t much to be done. We had the choice of trying to treat him again or putting him down. If we treated him again, then most likely he’d end up getting buried because we’d have to give him drugs which would make the meat unusable. If we put him down we’d be able to use the meat and there really wasn’t much we could do for him anyway. It sounds more callous than it was but that’s the short version of the decision process.

Once we decided we’d be putting him down, things quickly moved into getting ready. The last time we processed a cow on farm, it was the Ninja Cow┬áso it had been a little while. Of course we process pigs relatively often and it’s not all that different, just bigger and messier.

After a humane stun shot to the head with a .44 (my ears are still ringing), we quickly hoisted him up with the tractor and bled him out. A quick trip back to the barn and we went to work. It took about three hours to go from cow on the hoof to quarters hanging in the walk-in cooler. A week of aging in the cooler and then it then took another few hours to go from quarters to cuts of meat. Any real butchers are probably laughing at the time it takes us but we do everything with a couple of knives and a hand meat saw. We are slow but we get it done.

Cow cut into quarters
Quarters heading for the cooler

Yes, this is the Gator you take your tours in. I always call this Gator “the clean Gator” when I refer to it. If you thought that was odd, now you see why. We only haul people and meat in this Gator and keep the bed clean for times just like this.

I saved a few ribeyes for our freezer as that’s the steak I prefer most. Most of the meat was cut up and given to our various friends at the farmer’s market.

Cow being butchered, front quarter
Butchery in progress

They routinely look after us with all the produce they send our way. Occasionally we try to look after them with some complimentary meat.

Lastly, I called one of our customers and asked if he could come by and get some ribs (the picture above is actually the good morning picture I sent him). Fortunately he was available and stopped right by. This customer is one who is responsible for the food porn posts that I’ve been posting. I knew I’d get some good pics back if I gave him some ribs.

I was right. See below.

Ribs, seasoned and ready for the grill.
Ribs, seasoned and ready for the grill.
Rib dinner
The end result, more food porn

It is tough to look a cow in the eye and put it down, especially when you’ve done all you can to save it and it hasn’t worked. It’s hard and messy work to butcher your own cow, handle the heavy primal cuts, clean up all the blood, etc. But knowing that cow is no longer hurting, and knowing our customers are happy makes all the work worthwhile.

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