Feeding my family grass fed meat was an unachieved goal for a long time. The expense of eating grass fed meat on a regular basis made it seem out of reach. One day I was mulling this over and I realized that I had never asked God to provide this for us. After all “he owns the cattle on a thousand hills”… and the chickens and sheep for that matter.
A few days later, I recalled reading that the sheriff’s department keeps a list of people that would take deer hit by a car…yes, roadkill. That was my answer!
I wasn’t sure my husband would agree to this because grass fed meat was high on my wish list, not his, and this would mean a bit of work for him. Meat, however is high on his list of favorites and he agreed.
Now before you stop reading because you’re grossed out at the idea of eating roadkill, you need to realize there is little difference in eating venison shot by a hunter and a deer that has been hit by a car. A dead animal that has been laying around a long time in warm weather is not safe to eat, but that’s not what we’re talking about here.
We got the call at 2 am. Bill enthusiastically jumped out of bed to bag his buck. He had hunted as a boy so he wasn’t a complete novice to field dressing (that’s the polite term for “gutting” or taking out the innards). The sheriff’s deputy, a hunter himself, offered Bill plenty of advice which made the gutting job easier.
Bill woke me up at 5 am to help him hang the thing and skin it. I too jumped out of bed full of energy and excitement that by the end of the day we would have a freezer full of pure, naturally fed meat.
I will spare you the details about skinning and cutting off the head and feet, but it actually was quite interesting and not at all gruesome to me. Deer are beautiful animals and my heart was praising God for his creation and his provision the whole time. Besides, sometimes this is as close as I get to a date with my husband!
So Bill went off to work leaving me to figure out how to get from a hanging carcass in the garage to packages of meat in the freezer. Youtube provided the butchering know how that I needed to get started.
With kitchen knife and hacksaw in hand I tackled the carcass, attempting to cut it into manageable pieces that I could lay on the kitchen counter and further cut down to family size servings for the freezer.
The video made it look so easy and quick. That was not my experience. I questioned every cut and my hands ached from grasping the knife tightly for hours in the cold garage. Well it took me almost the entire day to cut the carcass into sections and 3 more days, between my other homemaking duties, to cut the meat off the bones and get it into the freezer.
Would I do it again? You bet, in a heartbeat! When I figured in my time, I only made a few dollars an hour, but I’m ok with that. It was a new experience and I expect I will get quicker with each deer I butcher.
This is what I learned and will apply next time:
1. Buy a good knife sharpener. A sharp knife is essential and would have saved me tons of time and achy hands.
2. Don’t try to get all the fat off. I thought it would contribute to a “wild” taste, but my misconception has been corrected by an experienced hunter. Additionally free range animal fat is good for us.
3. Print off a butchering chart to use in the garage so I don’t have to keep running to the computer to see where to cut next.
4. Don’t be a perfectionist. The cuts don’t have to look pretty like the butcher’s.
5. Get advice from a hunter that has cut up many deer. I’m hoping my brother in law can show me how he does it the next time.
Besides the practical things I learned about butchering an animal I was reminded that God often answers prayers differently than we expect. This experience also gave me a tremendous sense of accomplishment and an encouragement to attempt things to which I’m not naturally drawn.
I would love to hear your thoughts on ways to save money on meat. Please share in the comments.