Yep…we got snow last night. Can you believe it? Now it isn’t a lot…and won’t stick around..but it snowed. We were pretty excited.
Now we really need to finish our prep for winter. Today we will be chainsawing a downed tree to dry out for next winter’s wood pile.
This past weekend was a really good weekend. Definitely one to be thankful for. It started with getting some wood cut and stored for next winter. We don’t want to be scrambling next Fall like we did this year.
Then Chris decided to do some hunting, hoping to get a deer to put in the freezer for extra meat on hand just in case. Friday evening we had no luck. Then Saturday he decided to try again. Well he got one! His first deer. It went really well and he got as humane a shot as possible. The deer passed right away. I have been watching videos and reading on how to process your own deer. A lot of people take them to be processed but it costs at least $100, usually more. Plus I like the idea of knowing where the meat started and what all was done. So we took on the task of doing it ourselves. So after Chris got his shot…he came and got me. We got to work right away removing the entrails. If this is not done promptly the meat will start to spoil and rot. It was pretty dark by now so we hurried and brought it down to the barn.
I watched a video in which a hunter used a come-along to hang the deer he was processing. He had a fancy spreader for the legs but mentioned he used to use a board with 2 nails on each end and some string. So I made one of those while Chris set up the come-along. We used paracord and it ended up working out really well. You always hang deer head down. In order to hang the deer by the hind legs you make a slit in between their bone and the tendon that runs along the back of the leg, this is right below a major joint and supports the weight of the deer really well. You then slip your spreader or in our case, board, between the bone and tendon and it hangs. Here are some pictures of the come-along and make-shift spreader.
You can see the way I explained slipping the board between the bone and tendon.
We did a lot of reading and couldn’t decide if we wanted to skin it and let it hang overnight or leave the skin on over night. We got conflicting answers but decided to go with leaving the skin on so the meat wouldn’t dry out. As long as the weather is cool enough (below 40 F) you can let the deer hang, some people will leave it for up to 3 days to let the meat cure!
We left it for the night since it was approaching midnight and hoped for the best. Bill sat outside the barn for the whole time so we knew he would keep critters away.
The next morning Chris made a delicious and quick breakfast. Eggs in a basket…his mom used to make them…thank you Jan! They are the most delicious things ever! Then we headed to the barn to get to work. It was pretty cold for the whole day which was great for the meat. We started with skinning then began quartering.
The process took a few hours but I feel like we did pretty well. As we quartered we put all of the meat into a cooler then lugged it up to the house for me to de-bone and butcher. A lot of people don’t take the ribs or use the lower portion of the legs because the meat is “not very good”. We believe in using ALL of the animal so we took those parts and put them into portions for food for Darci and Bill. We also saved the organ meat and tongue for them as well. We are so glad we can find use for those things that might otherwise be wasted. We’ve got a TON of meat and bone for them now.
I spent the next few hours Trimming fat, cutting steaks, roasts, stew meat and making ground meat and packaging it into butcher paper for the freezer.
I Learned how to cut roasts, thick cut steaks, butterfly steaks, tenderloins and back straps.
Packing is NOT my strong suit…oh well does the trick.
We picked up this manual meat grinder to make ground meat.
We ended up with a TON of meat and are planning on giving some to my friends that are having a rough time.
We are also going to try to tan the hide to keep and use. It is in the freezer and will be a project for this weekend.
I refrained from taking any pictures of the deer before it was almost completely processed. We do not believe in taking pictures of dead creatures especially “trophy” type pictures of animals we have hunted. Taking a life is not easy and we try to be as respectful of the process as possible.
In addition to the deer meat we were able to harvest, our chickens are finally getting settled and giving us a consistent and increasing number of eggs each day. In the past few days we have be fortunate enough to gather almost 2 dozen.
We have put so much time and effort into making our hens comfortable and have been trying so hard to get everything just right. This was really so satisfying for us. As Chris said when he went in to collect eggs yesterday..” I was so happy I could kiss the chickens!” haha.
All in all it was a wonderful weekend. It really felt like we were finally settling into the lives of being homesteaders.