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.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Enternal Fire of the Deerly Departed

Yesterday was a humdinger. But just in case the Fish and Wildlife boys are reading... what follows is entirely hypothetical. You know how I make things up....and it's entirely possible that since today is a snow day - I might have added a little "special" to my morning coffee.

So the other day we headed out and found at the end of our drive - a dead deer. Right in a big heap. We looked at each other.

At this point I can assume there are three camps - the "Awwee's...." who's little hearts are broken at the thought of that beautiful, majestic creature laid low by a speeding Chevy. If that's you then all y'all had better stop reading as there is nothing but offensive material from now on. The "Ewww's" who think that's gross - but it wasn't too gross so keep reading. And the rest of you son's-o-golly-whats who think, "Awesome!" cuz there is a huge heap of free meat sitting right there. Right there!

"Awesome!" I cried and eagerly told my husband to go back so I could get my butcher knives.

"No." He said and drove around my free roadkill prize because there was somewhere that we had to be...and he thought it had been there too long. Drat.

Is roadkill meat gross? Depends on who you ask. A picture perfect headshot with a couple tons of steel is a gift for some but too icky for others. My favorite hunting story was about a guy who hit a deer which landed in another guy's yard. The both of them were out there trading punches to decide who owned it. "Finders keepers" or "I have the front end damage to prove it's mine "  - it's a sticky wicket.

I lobbied heavily for at least taking the back legs off the carcass for the dogs but I was entirely over ruled. By the time we got back it had, in fact, been sitting there "too long." There was only one thing to be done. We both grabbed a set of legs and whomped it in the back of the truck.

Then we showed the dogs.

They were definitely in the "Awesome" camp. Zander loved it the most and he thought his momma was the most wonderful person on earth to bring him such an incredible treasure. Until we told him to "leave it" and go in the house. There was sulking.

So now we had to "do something" with a relatively big carcass now resting comfortably in a wheelbarrow in one of my fenced in gardens. Technically I think you are supposed to call the highway department but because of where we live there is always a dispute over who has to deal with us. And the best we could have hoped for is that some guys might come along and dump a shovel full of lime on the carcass and let it rot. At the end of our drive. Attracting varmints and everyone's loose-running dog.

We also have a totally blind drive on a hill. So the eventual gathering of pterodactyls, I mean, buzzards which are as big as pterodactyls would eventually result in a horrific car crash for someone driving too fast over the hill. We've seen this before and since the shattered remains of someone's car was still all over the road from where that buck was hit we figured we didn't need anymore of that.

So we turned to our go-to solution. An awesome burn pile.

We had a ton of bramble and scrub pine from all of our clearing and a perfectly cleared place for an epic funeral pyre. So we got to work. When we had the fire good and hot my husband went and got the our burnt offering. Zander went nuts when he saw that big trolley of roadkill love coming right at him... then right past him... then be dumped on a scorching hot fire....

"WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?" We could hear the dogs collectively scream. They were agog.

My husband and I gathered even more bramble and pine and soon the fire was amazing. At first it smelled pretty bad. Then it smelled pretty good. The dogs danced and pawed around, noses in the air, behind us whining and whimpering. They thought it smelled delicious. After a while I thought so too.

Fat from grazing on all the free corn in the fields around us that deer carcass burned hot. Real hot. We could hear the fat sizzling and we piled on even more wood. With as hot as the fire was how long could this take, right?

Many hours later we were still out there.

We piled on more wood. The carcass was still burning. Punchy as we were from the hard work, the cold,  and the intoxicating smell of slightly-off venison - the stupid jokes started. I won't tell you which of made the roasted nuts remark. But you can probably guess.

Finally we just had to go and do chores. By that time the fire had pretty much died down and almost all of the carcass was gone. Except for the skull which was still smoldering. If it's still out there latter I'm going to dig it out of the ashes and make Nicholas a war helmet. That will be awesome.

Aside from shockin' y'all you might be wondering why I'm telling you this? Practicality.

If you have livestock at some point you are going to have deadstock. Then you are going to need a plan for disposing of a medium-large to very large carcass that is too big to just bury. If you have a backhoe or a tractor you are golden. If not sometimes you can contract someone to come and haul off the carcass. Or you can have a really awesome burn pile.

Be sure to check your local zoning tho. I kid you not, in a town near us it's illegal to burn varmints. I guess there was a guy who liked to burn roadkill groundhogs - I supposed that everyone needs a hobby. Unfortunately for him the neighbor lady did not think it was funny and apparently it was stinky. Worse for him she was on the town council and got a measure passed that made ground hog burning a punishable offense. Seein' as how burning a carcass is probably the least stinky thing we do over here we figured we were fine.

At this writing it's still dark. But at first light me and the dogs are gonna run right down and see if anything is left. I can't wait for Nicholas to wear his epic war helm.

Happy Tuesday everyone! Any body else burning varmints?


Amanda said...

Too bad you couldn't give the dogs any at least. My dad's german shepherd will bury her raw chicken when nobody is looking, until it starts stinking and then she'll find and eat it (extra flavor??). My dad doesn't really like her doing it but she's about 4 years old and she still manages to sneak some away once in awhile. It's a little nasty but oh well..

Allie said...

Ya know, if there are bones... that you don't need and the dogs don't abscond with, I'm hoarding such things to make a pretty cool bone spirit costume. I'll pay shipping if you shoot them out to Colorado. *is that kid hoarding roadkill* There are probably ordinances about me, too.

Sunnybrook Farm said...

He should have let you get a hind quarter off and see what it looked like. All deer smells too nasty to eat when raw so it is hard to tell if it has been too long. It has been so cold here that it would have been frozen.

Ken Broadhurst said...

Wow, you'd need a lot of brush and wood to make a fire big enough to burn a deer carcass. But it does seem like the best way to dispose of it, as long as the smoke doesn't bother anybody. Why was the meat too old? Doesn't it have to be aged before it is good to eat? Maybe because the animal hadn't been gutted...

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Hi Amanda! Yep the stinkier the better for sure... but then oh the barfing.. blech!

I should have known you'd be interested, Allie! I can't wait to see your awesome costume.

Hey SBF! We weren't cold enough to freeze until the next day - so drat. But next time....

Ken we had a HUGE fire. It was kind of great. And yes it was because the carcass had been there at least overnight and not gutted. Otherwise we could have hung it over night. Thanks so much for the shout out on your blog! I've been hungry for meatloaf sandwiches so I was very jealous of your lovely loaf.

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