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, May 20, 2014

We Butchered a Goat

So... we butchered a goat on Sunday.  Not Nibbles. It was great. The meat is terrific. This could be our best project ever. There is a reason that goat meat is the most popular meat, worldwide. The only reason I can think of that it's not more popular here in the States is because we have plenty of room for cows. People, we need to start a goat meat revolution here!

 Look at Pepper if you think you will be upset. Isn't she beautiful?

At this point I'll allow tender folks and goat snugglers to opt out and provide ample warning that we are gonna talk about butchering a goat. Yes a goat. That soft eyed little lovekins you have in your yard. We butchered one and we don't even feel bad. If you feel bad then don't read on. This is not a step by step but just an account of what happened. There is only one picture of meat on a table, a couple stupid jokes, and a fair amount of insensitivity. If you feel the need to tell me you are a vegetarian and blah blah blah I will not publish your comment. I am clear on your position. If you are going to cry then please look at beautiful little Pepper and then look away. Come back tomorrow, I'm sure we'll talk about tomatoes. 

First, I'll say that guy had it coming. Yes I'm talking about Tommy Boy. After Nibbles had her babies I think she went back into heat because he was on a mission to get to her. He might have actually gotten her which is a problem because I don't know what I'd do with babies in October. He was also wildly in rut and becoming not only a pain but a little dangerous. Sure he was not a full sized Boer, but I need to work in the barnyard and not worry about bending over to pick up a feed dish and him conking me on the noggin.

The final straw was when he destroyed the door of the turkey house. So I went out there, chased him down, drug him back and relocked the door. Then Kai started barking and again there he was... he had jumped thru the glass window!  Unfortunately his zeal cost him is position a this farm. I do not have time for that kind of foolishness.

So we boldly marched out there on Sunday morning. The problem was that there is not a ton of information on how to effectively butcher a goat. I supposed it was much like processing a deer. I read what I could and all I could surmise was that everyone is different and there is no "right" way. So as always we did what works best for us.

Before we let any of the barnyard inhabitants out we went and got our volunteer. We walked him to a spot near a tree with a sturdy branch, secured the trotters so there would be no running away, I ran away to the deck to stand with the dogs, and my husband provided the kill shot. It worked. It was not dramatic. Easy peasy. We would suggest a downward shot to the back of the head with a bigger-than-a-.22-slug.

Then hubs used a sharp, boning knife to cut the throat just behind the jaw (to preserve as much of the neck as possible) to allow the bleed out. This worked really well. Then the dogs and I looked at each other and shrugged. That was it.

We used a 'come-along' to hoist the carcass as to hang it from the sturdy branch. This worked great. Then I got the dogs and let them sniff all around. They thought it was terrific.

Then we went and did chores. The chickens showed up and they thought it was terrific.

The goats were all peeping out from under the goat house door when I went to let them out. Mostly they wanted to be fed but Nibbles walked down the hill and gave me a questioning look. But she forgot all about it when I brought out the feed scoop. I don't think they thought it was terrific but they they didn't seem overly concerned.

Look how much meat we got! This was a small, "mini" type goat. But tons of meat.

Then we had to get down to business. To be sure this was a first for us and a trial run. We figured if the meat was bad, it was too hard to butcher, or we were just creeped out then we'd just toss the carcass on a huge burn pile and be done with it. But we sure wanted to give it a go.

The first thing I learned was that this whole thing about how you skin and gut a carcass while it's hanging is for the birds. There was way to much flopping around and I was exactly at eye height with his.. um.. that is... uh.. "coin purse" which was freakin' me out, man. So we went and got my table, lowered the carcass, and got to work.

The skinning wasn't going smoothly so I asked my hubs to go and get my small, hooked paring knife. Instead he brought me my 12" cimeter and I skinned that carcass like a boss. It was awesome.

Because we had laid out the carcass on my worktable we just proceeded to gut and skin like we process pigs. I had a little trouble with the hip/pelvic bones but I think next time it will make more sense. Once again we used the sawsall to take off the trotters and to split the halves. This worked much faster but my meat saw worked just fine.

Then we just needed to quarter up the sides and shove the whole thing in the fridge to cool down.

We had heard so many stories of how the meat from a buck would be stanky, gross, tough, etc that we had no idea what to expect. So I took off the hocks - the lower leg bones - and we fired up the grill eager to see what we got ourselves into. Soon the outside smelled like BBQ heaven....

After double dog daring each other several times, calling each other's courage into question, and some chest beating... we took a small piece of cooked meat.. and ate it.

It was marvelous. Not lamby, not beefy, not porky... but something between lamb and pork. It was tender and mild and not stanky.

As there wasn't much meat on the hocks I gave one to each dog, thusly securing their love for me. They thought it was terrific.

We also couldn't find any consistent information about if or how long we should chill or age the meat. My trusty friend, J, provided the most sensible advice which was if we were gonna cook it then fire it up... and if we were gonna freeze it then let it rest in the fridge for a day or two. So that's what we did.

One thing that made the most sense, tho, was the idea that much of the goat meat is consumed in hot climates.. so there is no refrigeration. I'm guessing they just proceed with the cooking. As I understand it, goat meat is pretty lean so you need to use lower heat so it doesn't get tough.

Our first goat meat experiment was last nite - I made a stir-ish fry. I love meat fried up in a pan so I got out my favorite cast iron pan, heated it up, added some chicken fat then tossed in some meat pieces. With zero spices and no salt the first piece tasted like... meat. Yep. There you have it. It was not stanky or bucky or gross. Just meat.

So then I spiced up the rest of the pieces, tossed with flour and corn starch, fried it up, added some peppers and green beans and voila.... General Tsao's Goat Meat. It was terrific. I'm just about to go and make fried rice with the left overs. Today I'm going to marinate some meat in yogurt, make pita's and we'll have kebabs. It will be terrific.

How about some Q and A with typical questions that I normally receive when we do this kind of thing....

Q. EEEWWWWEEEEEEEE how could you DO that!?!? *gasps* But... but... wasn't that goat your FRIEND and did you LOVE him?
A. No. Calm down. It was not horrible. We'll just file this under "everyone had their own limit" so do what is best for you. Remember that we won't do meat rabbits - for no good reason. But this was very easy and we are not emotionally damaged. And it's now exceptionally peaceful and quiet in the barnyard which are the perfect conditions for me to go and fix the turkey house from all that damage.

Q. But... but wasn't there crying?
A. Only when the dogs saw that I was bringing them a tray of meat... then there were real tears of love in their eyes.

Q. What tools did you use?
A. A gun, a boning knife, my bad assed cimeter, a paring knife, my meat saw, and the sawsall (because it was faster). We worked on an outside table, had the hose nearby, and a big garbage can so we could just dump all the guts right in there. Easy peasy. You can also check out my Amazon store for all our butcher day tools, with links to my knives and such.

Q. Are you sure the meat isn't gross, gamey, stanky?
A. Seriously. It's not. And I was a little surprised. That guy was stanky in life but as meat it's just mild and delicious. We took care not to contaminate the meat from any ...um... spillage. I was worried that the hair would make the meat stanky... which is why we mostly skinned the carcass before we got to the gutting.

Q. What are you going to do with the meat?
A: Eat it. We'll use it like we use all the meat we grow - fried up in a pan, I might grind some, but I'll cut most of it up into chunks so we can grill it as kebabs or use in General Tsao's Goat Meat. And curry... I gotta make a curry. 

Q. Will you do this again?
A: Oh yes. This was such a raging success that we are thrilled with the results. In fact we are hoping for a slew of bucklings so we can load up the freezer. This has revolutionized everything. Our only regret is that we waited so long.

Q. But now you don't have a buck for breeding this fall.
A. We'll get another - around here they are a dime a dozen. We just won't wait so long this time.

So that's what happened. We are completely sold on goat meat and are absolutely excited that we have learned a new skill.

Happy Tuesday everyone!  Is anyone freaked out too bad? Do you think you can butcher a goat? I know you can, come on now... lets get this goat meat revolution underway!

Editor's note: How could I possibly be so insensitive as to include affiliate links to my Amazon store in a post about butchering a goat!?!? Well because folks always ask what tools - exactly - we use. I've tried to say "a boning knife" but then people ask, "which one." So that's why. It's not predatory marketing I'm just trying to answer the questions. And that cimeter is totally bad ass so you should get one. Just don't cut your hand off, seriously it's for professionals. Remember, anything you buy from Amazon by clicking on these links gets me a tiny percentage of the sale. If you like this blog, or if I've helped you at all in your farming efforts, just make a purchase from Amazon from one of the links, my store, or the black Amazon search box on the right side of this page. You can buy anything - hopefully something you need anyway. Thanks!


Ashlee said...

You should talk with Carolyn over at Krazo Acres if you have any questions on preparation, aging, storage, etc. They are like, the masters of goat butchering.

Looks yummy! I have yet to eat goat... We don't tend to get much variation at the market other than the occasional lamb here in the city :( I'd really have to do it myself, and we just do NOT have the space for that!

Carolyn said...

Our first goat meat experience was out of "necessity" as was yours. It was necessary to rid ourselves of some useless (or in your case, dangerous and destructive) animals. Ours were wethered dairy kids that we couldn't sell (even for cheeeeep!) for pets. So they became supper. And since then, I almost look forward to male offspring that I know we can't sell because it will become BBQ'd. Oh, and I hope you didn't toss the ribs to the dogs. There isn't much there, but BOY o' BOY, they are GREAT. Especially when the fat on it gets really crispy. I could eat an entire crispy fat goat on my own. You're just one step closer to Boer goats.....all that yummy meat! I swear, goat meat is the best kept secret. Keep up the farce that it's icky or stanky or whatever, then tell them to just give the goats to you and you'll take care of it. And by take care of it, I mean put that sucker on the Q'.

David said...

Awesome job! Goat is delicious! Do you discard all the offal?

Jovardy said...

How much meat did you get?

Kelsie said...

YESSSS. I used to work on a goat dairy, and every single buckling born was named "Taco." I love that when it comes to goats, it's the females who are valued and treasured and the boys who get the shaft (or the spit, as it were). Try making slow, pit-style BBQed goat. We made some one 4th of July, and I don't think I've ever eaten so much meat in one sitting as I did that beautiful day.

Vera said...

For reasons similar to yours we slaughtered our billy goat a few weeks ago, but we thought that the meat would only be good for dog food! I agree with you about goat meat, - it is similar to rabbit, which is my favourite meat, and very tasty.

As for the slaughtering process - we hang them up to get the skin off and the offal out, leave the carcass over night, then butcher it the following day. Getting the skin off a goat is sooooo much easier that getting the skin plus fleece off of a thickly coated sheep!

Thanks for sharing your experience. It is warming to know that other people think the same way as we do. Vx

Anonymous said...

Okay, not to be gross but how hard was it taking out the insides? Did you use a knife or your hands?

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Hi Ashlee! I totally should have talked to Carolyn! You can try Mexican grocery stores - sometimes they have goat meat as carbarito.

Carolyn! We were just talking about you! and yep i saved the ribs. whoot!

Dave, I saved some of it - liver and heart.. probably will go to the dogs just because I have so much outside work to do.

Hi Jovardy! dang.. my scale is broken but if you think that each of the shoulders/hams were at least 4 pounds each... and then the rest.. gosh. I'll say "enough to make it worth it" and you can see in the pic that I filled 3 9x13 pans plus 2 more big chunks.

YESSS, Kelsie! We totally want to do the pit-style thing. whoot!

Thanks, Vera, always for your great info. And yes I think it's a "thing" now to king of romanticize farming.. but you know I only tell the truth about it. ;-) *gives hugs*

Hi Cat! That's not gross at all. If I get icked out by butchering I just pop on some kitchen gloves - the yellow kind for dishes - and for whatever reason that little bit of plastic just really helps. I used gloves for this because the other day that goat rubbed against me and I got HIVES all over my arm. So that was the main reason. I usually dont wear gloves when I use my knives tho - just so I can make sure I have a good grip on them. It's ok to be a little squeamish and I highly recommend gloves, a good helper, and lots of stupid stupid jokes to make it go easier. I couldnt find a blog link for you so if you have more questions you can email me - or find me on 'the facebook':

Unknown said...

Can you tell me more about the sawsall? I am interested in purchasing but need to figure out exactly how you use it for something like this. And I'm all for supporting your site thru amazon. I learn so much and have fun with all.

Weekend Cowgirl said...

I love to eat goat, but ours are all just pets so we have to get it other places!!!!

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Hi Linda! Yep you just use the sawsall just like you would a meat saw. we use it for cutting off the trotters and with the pigz, halving the carcass. just use a clean blade. we have a cordless one. for a while i thought it was wimping out instead of using a "real" meat saw... but really - its so much quicker. we use a new, clean blade with small teeth. easy peasy. you can see the one we have in the "Butchering" section of the books/tools store. or here is the link to the set we have (we got a set for lots of reasons but butchering was not one...but this really works). :-)

hey WCG! lots of folks do that - i like the idea of the "butcher swap" where you "trade" with a friend so you arent butchering your own animal. or around here you can take goats to the "custom butcher" that does deer and such. so thats easy too.

Wildcard said...

My husband was just telling me (again) last night that he can get a goat from a friend (already processed). I tried goat meat around 14 years ago and I didn't think I liked it - the dish I had was boney. You've given me courage to tell him to go ahead. I usually just have to get past my head on these things.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Let me know how it goes, Wildcard!

Rapid Falls Farm said...

Oh, I love this post!!! We eat goat too! It's so good, it's the main meat we consume actually. We eat wether kids in the fall and just a couple weeks ago we had our dairy buck processed. We bought some boers and his job was thru. That was the first time we ate buck and he was older so I assumed he'd be " Bucky" tasting, but he's not! The hamburg is really lean, and makes the best burgers!! I love making a roast in my crock pot with spices and olive oil and a big ol hunk of goat wrapped in bacon .. = heaven :)

Ohiofarmgirl said...

hey Rapid Falls! thanks for coming by! and yeah - can you believe the meat is so good? we totally need to make this a revolution in this country. i love the idea of burgers!

Xa Lynn said...

I had goat meat (chops) for the first time in my life last week. OH, my, was that tasty! Rubbed the chops with a slice of garlic and pan-fried them, removed to a hot plate, and I threw in a half cup chicken stock and 3T balsamic vinegar and scraped the bits off the bottom of the pan and stirred it up for a couple minutes til it thickened a little, then I poured in on the chops. I thought it was terrific!

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