Friday, August 30, 2013

Meat Week

***Warning*** This post contains information that may be too graphic for those of you who eat In-N-Out burgers, but who don't really like to know the story behind the meat.  As you may know, I've changed my feelings about meat over the past five years.  Our dream is to catch or raise all of our own meat.  This is the story of one meaty week.

I have talked to several vegetarians who started eating meat after living on a farm.  One sweet woman told me she would have never dreamed of eating her animals, but slowly it became just part of the cycle of life. We raise Nubian goats, mainly for their milk (but also for their wonderful personalities).  The only way to get milk out of a goat, is for her to have a baby.  Cutie Pie was born early last March.  He was small and struggling, so we helped him latch on and warmed him by the fire.

Oliver and Pearl loved him to pieces.    

We have struggled with the best way to neuter and disbud a male goat in the past.  We had a veterinarian come out last year, but we weren't pleased with the way he neutered our boys.  My mom bought a neutering device so that I could neuter Cutie Pie as gently as possible.  The neutering device sat week after week untouched on my counter.  No one wanted to hold Cutie Pie down and castrate him.  As he grew, he became stronger and more unruly.  He was a wild man, and although he was almost as big as his mother, he was still nursing.  Oliver and Pearl were unable to play in the pasture without threat of injury.  We knew if we wanted to find him a home, it would involve separation from his family, a painful castration, and a life we could not control.  After weeks of discussion and thought, we came to the conclusion that ending his life and eating his meat might just be the most ethical choice.   

Goat Meat

A friend of our family is a chef and is very knowledgeable about how to slaughter an animal.  Glenn and Ben (the chef) brought Cutie Pie to the barn where he was fed his favorite food, blackberry leaves.  He had his head down in the leaves, when Ben shot him in the head.  He died instantly.  No stress.  No pain.  It hurts so much for me to look at his pictures and write this post.  I still get sad when I look in the freezer.  I try to think about all the burgers in the world that are consumed without a second thought.  Cutie meant so much to us and when we eat his meat, we will honor him.

Fish Meat

Two days after we slaughtered our goat, Oliver and I woke up at five in the morning to head out on a deep-sea fishing trip.  I have wanted to take Oliver deep-sea fishing for years.  I liked the idea of eating fish we caught ourselves.  We set out on a cold morning with choppy waves.

The boat's captain took us out to the deep-ocean water and told us to drop our bait to the ocean floor.  After two minutes, we had a fish on our line and began the long process of reeling him in.  Oliver and I were heavily medicated with Dramamine, so we were shocked when so many people on the boat started vomiting.  

At stop number two, we noticed less than half of the people on the boat were fishing.  I ignored the sounds of retching all around me and continued to drop our bait to the bottom, and reel in fish.  We caught two big red fish on one line.  Oliver was in heaven.

I just pulled in my eleventh fish, when I heard screams and saw the deck hands attempting to help a woman.  She was so sick, she passed out and hit her head.  Being a nurse, I have to get involved with everything medical I see.  The deck hands were pretty happy I was obnoxious and took over the scene.  I love yelling, "I'm a nurse!," especially in front of my kid.  I kept her going until the harbor patrol made a daring and dramatic rescue.  I think Oliver enjoyed watching the EMT jump onto the boat even more than seeing the whale.  

And with that, our trip was over.  Our nostrils were tainted with the smell of vomit and dead fish, but we were on a fishing high like no other.  We are excited for the day when Pearl is big enough, and our whole family can go together.  

The Freezer
Our freezer is now filled to the top with meat from our own chickens, our dear goat and eleven fish.  I'm not sure if I could handle another goat slaughter.  Or perhaps, it will get easier with time.  Glenn said the goat meat is tender and wonderful because he was milk-fed his entire life and was so healthy.  I'm very thankful to him for the nourishment he will bring to my children.  Deep-sea fishing will definitely be a part of our lives for good.  Thank you to the fish for six great dinners!