Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Confessions of a Secret Goat Butcherer

It began casually enough... I knew someone who knew someone. Did I have the goods? Did they have the cash? “Burner” cell phone numbers were exchanged, then a clandestine meeting in a badly lit parking lot. They approached our truck, looked in skeptically, then nodded. An envelope was shoved into my hand. Quickly we jumped in our truck and drove away fast, I shouted out the window at the last minute “No take backs!” And he was gone. We were rid of Peanut who had no thunder in his nuts.

It's true. We sold our buckling knowing full well he was going to slaughter. Here is your only warning: What follows is an interview with the Secret Goat Butcherer. There are no process pictures but there are a couple of "after" pictures.  If you are about to burst into tears then click here and look at pictures of adorable cats cuddling each other. Read on at your own risk. Remember - no crying, no judgments. And for heaven sakes no weepy comments will be printed...and you know...we'll mock you later. Ready?

Look at all that meat! This is only part of it!

OFG: Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed. Would you start by telling us why you wanted to butcher a goat? And why the anonymity?

We have goats ourselves but not meat goats...since we have home-grown chickens and ducks for the table it seemed like a natural progression. We wanted to know what goat tastes like and your 'predicament' seemed like the perfect timing for us. everybody won. The anonymity? We don't live in an area where home butchering is acceptable.

OFG: Did you have any farming/hunting experience before you did this?
We both grew up in families where hunting was normal, one of us was raised on a dairy farm so home raised meat was normal, although neither one of us had participated in the activities. Our first butchering experience was a few years ago on Valentine's Day when a big nasty Brahma rooster crossed the line with me. It was one of the best bonding experiences ever! We've since done meat chickens, ducks, and had friends teach us to dress rabbits and we will soon be having our own rabbit on the table.

OFG: Aside from the logistics, what did you learn about about "making your own food?

It's delicious. We discovered that goat is a GREAT meat! It wasn't at all gamey like I was afraid of. It tastes almost like beef, but needs to be cooked low and slow to make it tender.  I see it as being a very practical meat for us to raise in the future.

OFG: What did the kids think?

The kids have different opinions. One doesn't eat alot of meat but the meat making process doesn't bother her at all. One has been sick so she didn't feel like eating and the verdict is not in yet. The other...well, he is oblivious about what we serve and we didn't tell him - because I wanted a real reaction. He just asked for another plate of "chicken" (we only told him it was a roast) and proclaimed it the best meat he's ever had.

OFG: What is your best advice for someone who is hesitant to do this?

Study up if you aren't familiar with butchering a large animal so you know what to do. Start with an animal that you don't know (have not raised yourself) take it home and then don't hesitate - just get right to it. We drove home and 2 hours later that goat was cooling in the fridge. I would also advise to start with something small like poultry if you have never butchered your own meat before.

OFG: Thanks for sharing your story!
I really loved doing this interview. Notice that they said their first butchering activity (a mean roo who deserved it) was a great "bonding" experience. This is one of the best things about home butchering. It's hard to describe to uninitiated folks but the work of butchering builds such camaraderie. The process causes you to work together in a way that is different than building a fence or picking tomatoes. Maybe because there is danger or maybe because its stepping into the circle of life together. But its very primal and very cerebral and deeply satisfying. Knowing that you can make food is extremely rewarding.

Quite possibly my new favorite picture of all time. Nothing like a full stock pot. 

And now a little FAQ from my perspective:

Q. Why didn't you just butcher that goat yourselves?
A. Honestly, I needed the cash because I'm out of Two Buck Chuck.  I'm gonna go up to Trader Joe's and buy me a case of cab this week. And also because we have a freezer full of pork and a hen house full of meat chickens that will meet their just reward in the next couple of days.

Q. Did you cry? Feel bad? Any last words to Peanut?
Nope. Nope. I think my last words were “Smell ya later, pal.”

Q. But he was a little goatsy-woatsy and didn't you love him?
No. We don't think of our goats as companion animals at all. But here is the great thing – everyone has their own limit. So if it's not your thing than that is just fine. We couldn't butcher rabbits – for no rational reason. So it's OK if you aren't going to run right out and butcher that house goat you have sitting on the couch next to you watching TV. (You know who you are). But remember that goat is the most popular meat worldwide. I think we are the only country that doesn't know it.

Q. What did you do afterward?
We threw away our burner phone and went to get ice cream.

Q. I mean... now that you've seen the results?
Are you kidding? I'm gonna get me a whole passel of goats this spring! I was super surprised at how much meat the carcass yielded. As in flabbergasted. Total amazed. I'm strategizing a plan right now to fence in the area below turkey house and stick a bunch of useless bucklings down there and grow them out. This could be a whole new thing for us. I've never considered meat goats before but now I think I am sold on the whole thing.

I'm incredibly proud of my pals. They did a great job with this new venture and did really well. I'm inspired by their courage in trying something new. Congrats Secret Goat Butcherers!

Happy Monday everyone! Now run right out there and consider goat meat!


Carolyn said...

We raise dairy goats, so eventually the odds came due and one of our does had a male kid. We did not want him to be a herd sire so he was destined for the freezer. One of the best uses of a .22 magnum ever. When there was a year with NO males born, I was a bit disappointed. So we started our own meat goat herd this year.
Looks like (goat) meat is back on the menu, boys!

Traci Sumner said...

If cabrito or chevon (or goat) is cooked right, it can be very good. Same for lamb. Lamb = yummy. Mutton = somebody else's plate. A friend of my parents married a very nice guy from Jamaica over 30 years ago. They started having their "goat feast" about the same time. It started out with some friends and family and a goat being rotisseried in the backyard and a lot of "what else do you haves" to a neighborhood party that they advertise in the local paper, sell tickets to, and card you so they serve the legals booze. So, we might not be part of the butchering, but it sure has become part of the community.

p.s. make sure they are meat goats, because dairy goats, unless they are the bigger breeds, aren't worth the effort.

small farm girl said...

I tasted goat for the first time last year. Yummy!!!!! This year if the boys dont sell, they are gonna taste good! We have fainters, smaller goats, but very meaty! We are also crossing them with boer to get bigger/meatier goats. Im going for some food!!!!!!

Provender Place said...

"Maybe because there is danger or maybe because its stepping into the circle of life together. But its very primal and very cerebral and deeply satisfying."

Couldn't agree more. Ask someone to help you the first time. (I know many retirees who would love nothing better than to skip their morning coffee at the local with the guys to show off what they know to us younger folks. Of course you know he'll be right back at the local tomorrow and they'll all get good laughs out of your adventure!)

Also, if you're unsure but you still want good meat, there's no shame in growing or buying a good meat animal and taking it to the processor. We've done that with our birds here because of our location, set-up, and time commitments.

Nic said...

Love the furtivity of it.
Just read the first goat post, that you linked to. Hilarious!
And while I wasn't feeling a squeemish I followed the kitty link. Awww. And too funny that one little cat booted the dogs out of bed :)
I think I need to set aside some quality time to read your blog. Always love your posts

Anonymous said...

Completely off topic but, a
s I was giving my dog a chewy this morning and bemoaning the cost of those little slivers of dried skin, it got me to thinking of doing it for ourselves. Since you slaughter your own pigs, have you ever tried saving the skins and drying/smoking it for dog chews?

becky3086 said...

I really would love to try goat.
I also agree with it being a bonding experience between you and the people you butcher with. I know we felt pretty accomplished when we got that 365 lb hog done.

JeffJustJeff said...

Kudos to the secret butcherers! I have eaten goat before in an Indian restaurant and it was quite yummy. I don't think I could eat one of our goats. I recognize the hypocrisy. I have not trouble scarfing down the pork or poultry.

Maybe we'll get there, but I don't know. I'm definitely a goat snuggler, but I can assure you we have no house goats ;-) Not that I haven't tried, but Chad has his limits.

We currently have a Jersey steer. He's going to be a little bit difficult, but we have know all along that he was destined to be hamburger. I just wish he wouldn't act like a 600 lb puppy LOL.

One of these days, we're going to butcher our own hog. We've sold at least part of all the ones we've raised so far, so we had to have them processed at a USDA butcher. I hate the stress they have to go through being carted off to the butcher.


Kaela said...

Rabbits were never a problem for me, but when it comes to sending a goat boy off to freezer camp, I'm going to have to do a lot of psyching myself up. Right now goats are friends not food.

Chai Chai said...

Goats in the house?

I wonder what you would think of those sappy folks who have cute snuggley goats tucked into their bra's? (And don't tell me that would never happen....)

David said...

Love the goat, tacos, smoked, roasted, stewed, consomme de cabrito... oh oh my.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Ha! Looks like meat IS back on the menu, Carolyn!

I really love lamb, Traci - I'm hoping for sheep someday soon. And yep folks love goat me.

SFG - the fainters just slay me. i guess you can just yell at them so they will fall over? Makes for easy butchering I'm sure.

FF - what a great idea to ask an older guy to help out! And absolutely - if its not your thing than that is just fine.

hi Nic! Great to see you - and yep there was a lot of cloak and dagger. But it sure was fun.

Hey Anon! Sometimes I think about using the hides... but really we let the hens pick over them. I just put the hides in the hen yard for the day - and take them up at nite. Then hens pick all the fat off and think its the best thing ever.

Becky - the thing that we are missing in our culture is that sense of community. Where else can you have a shared experience with other people like that? You have to trust each other, you are all working for a common goal, and everyone wins. Its a great feeling. Much better than those stupid team building exercises from my corporate life.

JJJ - between you, Chad, and Chad's son you could TOTALLY do it. But its ok if not. (You'd have a great time tho and be superduper proud of yourselves!)

CC - there may or may not have been one or more goats in my bra at one time or another.... but that has never been proven.

I'm totally sold on this now, Dave. Wow!

Rae said...

Butchering with hubby and friends is the best! Every year, we butcher a mess of meat chickens and have friends over to help. Once it's all done, we bust out the booze and the deep fryer and feast on livers, gizzards, and hearts. Nummy nummy fun times!

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Isnt it a great group activity, Rae? and i love a good post-harvest feast!

Unknown said...

I'm a "fledgling farmer" and I was thinking after I got the chickens and turkeys established, that I was going to take a hand at fiber and milk goats...always had a thing for goats, (too cute) I have spoken with many ppl on goats, and heard some horror stories on Billies... But, I am undaunted, I'll stick with the girls :)

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