Saturday, May 14, 2011

Whole Goat: Slaughter to Meat Pieces

We had our annual church fathers and sons outing coming up and I wanted to do something a little different for it. At one of our previous outings my friend, Gregg, and I prepared a whole pig which we barbecued and served. We did the cooking, but the pig was slaughtered and prepared by someone else. Inspired by Omnivore's Dilemma, my son, Andrew, has been involved with the the concept of learning and understanding where our food comes from. He has raised a chicken which he slaughtered and ate and makes his own pickles and sauerkraut. For his graduation present, Andrew said he wanted to kill, prepare and serve a lamb for his graduation party. Gregg provided us with a lamb which Andrew killed, and with my help, Andrew prepared and cooked it. We enjoyed the liver, various head meats, legs and ribs. For my birthday this year, we had a whole pig dinner at Ford's Filling Station. We didn't slaughter or prepare the pig, but we ate more parts of an animal than I have ever eaten before, and what's more, it was all very good. For this activity, Gregg provided the goat. It was an extension of our prior activities: preparing the whole animal from start to finish and using as much of it as we could. 
Other than the initial killing, I was on my own in preparing the carcass and in cooking it. We didn't have the heart to initially slit the goat's throat, so Gregg killed it with a shot in the head with a .22 and then I slit the throat and held it while the warm blood came pumping out. 
That part of the process was not fun, in fact it was hard, and I think sometimes in our modern society it might be beneficial for people to see that process to be reminded that our meat comes from live animals, not a cellophane wrapped package in a supermarket. With a knife, I started at the neck and slit the underside open down to the anus, 
then started to separate the outer skin from the meat, 
being particularly careful not to puncture intestines or other organs that might release nasty fluids which would contaminate the meat. I then worked on the front legs, cutting off the lower leg near the joint with a tree trimmer 
and separating it from the body.
I removed the head
and then started working on removing the hind legs, 
being extra careful to avoid puncturing the intestines, bladder and stomach.
I ran out of time and daylight and was not able to prepare the head for use of the tongue, brain or cheek. But I did have the two front legs, 
two back legs
 and the rest of the carcass (split into two down the backbone using my tree trimmer). 
I also saved the liver and heart for eating that evening.
It took me about 2 1/2 hours to do this process and I was beat. Someday I would like to go through this process with someone that really uses the entire animal, to learn how to prepare and use more of the innards, including the stomach and intestines. 


  1. Although I eat plenty of meat, I have a "no eyes" policy. I can't eat anything I've looked in the eye, even if it's already dead. I freely acknowledge that this is very hypocritical of me. I wonder how my eating would change if I was forced to do what you are doing. Or how hungry I would have to get. An interesting thought....

  2. thank you to explain this, its hard but thats the way of live.