Tag Archives: cutting and wrapping

Lambs: Scene One.

WARNING! This might be considered by some to be gross, inappropriate, or tragic, but I think it is extremely important share the how’s, what’s and why’s of our food. If you have any questions about anything you see please ask – I love to share about the ranch.

Basque Mike when I met him this summer.

Basque Mike when I met him this summer.

This past summer I met a wonderful man, Basque Mike. And over beers at our neighbor Pete’s house, I learned that he was an actual real-life shepherd that came to America when he was 16, with bread and wine, to herd sheep. He has a very heavy accent that was sometimes hard to understand, but he was a serious kick in the pants. My conversation with Mike inspired me. Mike told me that he would teach me to cut lamb the Basque way. The only problem with that is I don’t raise lamb.

Lambs, man.

Lambs, man.

I had a pair of bottle lambs when I was a kid, but for the most part, my experience with sheep has not been pleasant. I’ve been chased around by a mean ram, had a really bad experience with awful mutton and generally distrust sheep because they are evil. I really think it is a cattlepeople thing – we just aren’t used to things like goats and sheep.

Baaaa

Baaaa

After months of  hemming and hawing I decided to buy some lambs. This was not an easy choice for me. I just wasn’t thrilled at the idea of having sheep back on this ranch. Even my dogs were not sold on the idea of sheep. And our bottle calves were absolutely horrified.

But, I have a friend from college that just happened to have some lambs ready for slaughter. Neighbor Pete said he would help cut and wrap them if I wanted to learn. It was meant to be. I had cash because I sold my car (so sad!!!),  I bought some lambs from my friend’s Stacie and Taylor at Heart  P Livestock. After a week on the ranch, they were slaughtered and hung.

A hung lamb, ready to be cut and wrapped.

A hung lamb, ready to be cut and wrapped.

After a few days of hanging I went to learn how to cut and wrap a lamb from neighbor Pete. Pete is incredibly fast and amazing at what he does. We cut and wrapped 3 lambs in no time. It blew my mind. I learned my basic lamb cuts after the first two lambs, so by the third I was able to wrap and label with no assistance.

Pete is very fast, especially when he has help!

Pete is very fast, especially when he has help! (That’s my Dad helping him)

Since before this time, I was not a fan of lamb, I decided to split my lamb with another neighbor. I regret that now. Getting my hands dirty, being part of my own food, made me like lamb! (Plus it was quality lamb to begin with, I highly recommend Heart P). Go figure, that I would like lamb! Plus I have all kinds of people wanting to trade lamb meat for cool things. I LOVE trading! Since I don’t have a steady cash income anymore, I’ve started trading my time and talents for things I need and want. It is awesome.

This is me, learning from Pete how a lamb is put together.

This is me, learning from Pete how a lamb is put together.

Although Mike and I haven’t connected for a Basque session I feel much more confident in my lamb knowledge.

MY lamb.

MY lamb.

I would have been embarrassed to even have him attempt to teach me anything before this because I just did not have enough basic knowledge about lamb to make it stick. I took the first step, I got some lambs, I learned about some lambs, I wrapped some lambs. Lambs are good. I’m ready for next time.

My Manicure Monday picture from the day. I don't have pretty hands, but I have capable hands, and to me, that is more important.

My Manicure Monday picture from the day. I don’t have pretty hands, but I have capable hands, and to me, that is more important.

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Deer Hunting: Cutting and Wrapping

WARNING! This might be considered by some to be gross, inappropriate, or tragic, but I think it is extremely important share the how’s, what’s and why’s of our food. If you have any questions about anything you see please ask – I love to share about the ranch.

When you hunt, I think the easy part is the actual hunt. After you kill your buck you then must skin it, hang it and cut and wrap it. I can safely say from experience, I could not do these things by myself, yet.

I’m very lucky that I have a wonderful group of people that are there to teach me and support me. This year I felt like I learned more than ever before. I’m ready to do it again!

The first step after you kill a buck is to skin it and remove the organs. My Dad and Uncle lectured us for days about this process, they feel like you can really screw up good buck meat if you do this process wrong.

You start skinning on the back leg.

You start skinning on the back leg being careful to avoid the scent glad at the knee.

The scent glad on a deer is on the back inside leg, the bucks will pee on themselves there, and it stinks. My Dad and Uncle explain to us every time we kill a buck to remove those, very carefully.

You work down from the legs until you can hang the deer on a gamble  and continue skinning.

You work down from the back legs until you can hang the deer on a gamble and continue skinning.

Deer on the gamble.

Deer on the gamble. Your goal here is to keep the deer as clean as you can as you dress him.

Once the deer is on the gamble you can start skinning. My Dad uses the "punch" method - where you kinda use your fist to remove the hide.

Once the deer is on the gamble you can start skinning. My Dad uses the “punch” method – where you kinda use your fist to remove the hide.

The exit wound from my shot. I basically shot his heart, so his death was very fast.

The exit wound from my shot. I basically shot his heart, so his death was very fast.

See how the hide came off nicely? No hunks of meat attached? That is some expert skinning work right there, I have a lot to learn.

See how the hide came off nicely? No hunks of meat attached? That is some expert skinning work right there, I have a lot to learn.

Once he is skinned, it's time to remove the organs.

Once he is skinned, it’s time to remove the organs.

Removing the bladder can be a scary job. If you puncture it, buck pee will get on your meat, and trust me, you don't want that.

Removing the bladder can be a scary job. If you puncture it, buck pee will get on your meat, and trust me, you don’t want that.

After you remove the bladder you can safely remove the rest of the organs. My Dad is holding the heart here.

After you remove the bladder you can safely remove the rest of the organs. My Dad is holding the heart here.

After the deer is skinned and gutted he is placed in a “buck bag” and transported to our neighbor Pete’s walk-in box to hang for a few days. Pete was kind enough to offer to cut my buck up for me. I was really excited because that meant I could watch, learn and help! Pete has a great space to cut and wrap meat and he is amazing at it. This whole process probably took less than 30 minutes.

Pete started with the backstrap. Arguably the best cut.

Pete started with the backstrap. Arguably the best cut.

Pretty.

Pretty.

He made steaks, roasts and stew meat for me.

He made steaks, roasts and stew meat for me.

I wrapped.

I wrapped.

Daniel labeled. I told him this was a special package for our harvest party, he labeled it as such.

Daniel labeled. I told him this was a special package for our harvest party, he labeled it as such.

Before and after.

Before and after.

I didn’t kill the biggest of bucks this year, but as they say ‘you can’t eat the horns’. I find that these little bucks taste much better than the old bucks anyway. I was thrilled with myself and had an amazing time learning and doing. Next year I plan on being almost able to do this all myself. This is a skill that is important to me and I feel like it is becoming more rare, not ok!

Dad, Uncle Steven and Pete thank you so much for included me and letting me have this incredible experience.  It means a lot to me that you made a big deal over this for me. I can’t wait to eat this guy and share him with my urban friends that don’t get to eat yummy venison ever.

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