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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!