Sunday, February 15, 2009

Our Valentine's Day

**************WARNING: THIS IS GRAPHIC********************

Well as some of you may know, my dh and I celebrate Valentine's Day on February 15 instead of the 14th. We're not cheap (we so are), it's just that everything is 50% off then :) Anywho, the weather was right for another butchering and so we were up early getting it all ready. I must say that this was a delightful comedy of errors. Since dh hadn't separated the 2 pigs we had to get one out to be butchered. I decided that a nice "box" would do just the trick and began to work on it. We went to Lowe's yesterday and got a cull packet - these are pieces of wood that are not "perfect" and so they pull them out. You can get these at far better prices than the perfect ones so depending on your project, I highly recommend using it - the catch is you have to buy the entire packet.

I digress, my box was way more difficult to build than I anticipated, for one thing the screws and drill bits were cheap :( Anyway, when it was finally done - so very unpretty it was, we discovered that our pig would not go in . . . willingly anyway. During this time we also realised that there was no gun either :( The plan was that we'd strike her on the head and then slice the throat. Turns out she was not about to go that easily. After 2 strikes, she had run off and escaped into the larger barn area. Remembering that we didn't want to stress her out too much, the men held back and get her calmed down.

We decided that the 20 gauge shot gun would have to do - even though it would be messy. The shot got her down so that her throat could be cut but she was determined to live. (I've decided I like her spunk and want to be just like her when I grow up). They dragged her out to be hung and she still continued to put up a fight, the other side of her throat was slit and we could still hear her trying to breathe. After, what felt like forever, we get her all drained out, we moved her to the new fire pit. (Lot had finished off our wheel barrow and it turned out to be an excellent fire pit).

We moved into the scald and scrape mode and it seemed to go like clockwork, that is until the 2nd dunk. All of a sudden we realised that the hair was not coming out and we would have to improvise (again). I got dh to get the hair clippers, that worked for a little time but the hair was far too coarse and the clippers died. The men began to work the hair off using their knives. This was actually far more effective than i thought it would be.

Just as we were getting in the swing of things, the boys run over to deliver terrific news . . . Marian gave birth!!!! The boys were convinced that the baby was a bull but I have heard too many stories of getting it wrong initially. As we got closer to observe mama and baby, we saw Lot getting far too rough with the calf. This was an immediate concern and we yelled for the men to come get the calf and distract the other cows. The calf was taken to the barn and named Valentine :)

We then got back to the pig and worked on trying to get the gasoline rubbed on, so that we could burn the remaining hairs off. Turns out this is not an easy feat by any means, in fact I was surprised to see that after several attempts we couldn't get her lit :( Then we'd get it going for a split second and the wind would put her out :( Have i mentioned lately how irritated I get, that the books leave so much of the IMPORTANT details out. (off soap box). Dh had the pleasure of even catching his hand on fire briefly (I swear I'm not laughing :)) Here is a pic of the rag he'd had in his hand at the time, lol.

The plan was to get her hung, gutted and halved. This way we could let her age overnight and break her down further tomorrow. Dh and I got in there and helped get her gutted. It was nothing like I expected, for one thing those membranes are really stuck on there good. It is like trying to break the skin of a balloon without a single hole to get a small grip. This part was video taped and will be available later. Soon enough we were done and the pig was halved. We opted to wrap the halves in plastic and store them in my new box from Spirit surplus sales :)

Once we were done I went to see the little calf and take more pics, because I can :) As I was taking pics, I decided to lift her tail as she kept wagging it, turns out the calf is actually a heifer :) She is currently residing in my mud room, as we decide on building her a shelter. It will probably be an addition to Quinn's old pen. In the mean time, the kids are thrilled to have her close by. We have gotten her to take the bottle a little and will continue her on the "formula" until she is about 2 weeks old. Then she will get milk from Treva.

The downside to having a farm and working full time jobs, is that some projects never get done due to time constraints. We had hoped to be able to milk Marian and Christmas, but we just don't have the time to devote to working out their shyness. This leaves us with the current plan of creating milk cows by making all our calves bottle babies. It is surprisingly less time consuming. Oh, I forgot to mention our new customer, (he stopped by to get that thing we aren't allowed to advertise except for on our farm, lol) drove up a few minutes after we had hung the pig to drain and we were so impressed that he never once said a word about the pig hanging from the post. I'll let you know if he mentions it the next time he's in the area. :)


Anonymous said...

Why would you not leave Valentine with Marian if you are not going to milk her? You can handle the calf and give it the best of both worlds that way, with much less work. Valentine will benefit so much more from getting that strong start under mom...and you may actually get more of chance to warm Marian up to yourselves through her little one trusting you all.

Janelle said...

Having had Marian with a baby prior, we were not willing to keep the two together. The last heifer was extremely afraid to be touched, and in large part this was due to Marian being very overprotective. (if she were a chicken they'd call her broody). Having seen the difference between our cows who were left with mom, though they have some interaction and our Jersey cow and our 2 bulls, who were all bottle fed, the choice was clear that we would bottle feed these babies so that they could be easily handled and milked.

Anonymous said...

ah, you plan on culling her from the herd then? she sounds like a great beef cow, but not so good as a dairy cow for a homestead :( I can't imagine the expense of feeding her is worth the price of a calf... but then again, I am just nosey, LOL! You do NOT have to answer my questions..I am rambling "out loud" as much as asking you personally.

Your momys friend, Stacy (also posted the top comment, LOL! forgot to sign it!)

Janelle said...

I knew it was you :) We are planning to cull her at some point. She came to us bred and so we wanted to wait for her to give birth. She breeds back very quickly so we will sell her as a bred cow. In the mean time she gets a very small grain supplement along with the others as a incentive to move into the pen when it's time to milk. Being a Dexter she doesn't cost too much to feed. :)

Phelan said...

If you are willing to take monthly payments, I'll buy her :D