Tag Archives: butchering

A season of mixed emotions

Another summer has come and gone, fall is quickly changing to winter and recent events have caused emotions to run as rampant as the winds in a brewing storm.

We have finally experienced the brutality of nature first hand with a vicious attack on our goat herd from wolves. It was quite a strange day, unease was in the air-we all felt it. It was as if we collectively knew the day in its calmness was masquerading the evil that was about to take place. Suddenly out of nowhere they attacked at once and in a split second it was over. A total of 5 goats lost and one struggling for her life. Mixed emotions for a moment overwhelmed me. I felt sorry for the goats going through the pain and trauma of dying, I felt sadness for my children experiencing it first hand, anger at the wolves for their being wolves but at the  same time I felt angry at myself. The self directed anger was more confusion in retrospect. I know that the wolves were hungry as they didn’t just leave the animals they drug them off so while my heart was aching at our loss I was angry at myself for being mad at wolves for feeding their family. Yes, I am sure this all sounds very odd but I asked myself would we as humans do the same when the need arose. It is with mixed Feelings I realized we must do what is needed to protect our livestock but care is also needed to maintain balance. Sometimes I think too much. 

It’s been a busy fall preparing for winter. My little green giant that sissy and Paul provided has proven to be worth its weight in gold-for those who don’t know already the little green giant is the Argo my sissy and her husband so thoughtfully provided for us to use to navigate through this boggy terrain. I’ve gotten used to driving her now and can go places without sinking to my elbows! ​

​Hog butchering has been completed for the fall and I was able to do some trading to get enough animal feed to last us through winter and some help getting our roof on. We also had enough to share with others and I am thankful God provided us with such bounty not just for us but for others too. Losing the goats means there won’t be any money for Christmas this year but we will be eating good with the hams and bacon We’ve smoked, all the canning the girls and I did, the fish dear hubby caught, our birds we still have to butcher and still some canning left to do as I acquired lots of potatoes in another trade.

Sitting here alone in the late night I reflect on what has happened over the last few years. We’ve had so many good times, some bad but the reality is I’m still at peace. I know some of the lessons life has taught us were difficult for my children but they have learned from them. I’ve never been one to shelter my children from reality and the recent events have shown them just how precious every minute of life truly is.

The cloudy rainy/snowy day has ended and the stars are twinkling bright enough you can see the ice crystals reflecting light. At my age it seems silly but I still find wonder, awe and beauty in that. We have also been blessed with many nights of clear skies and bright northern lights dancing across the sky. We are all excited that the freeze seems to be holding unlike last year when it would warm up for a week and thaw then freeze and repeat. The freeze up means we will have guests out more frequently and Thanksgiving will be a party. I’ve always been one who loved to cook  and to have friends and family celebrating the holidays with us. With the size of our turkey and ham there will be food aplenty. 

One last thing to share is the newest member of our family. Papa Fred has a new puppy that we got from a very nice lady across the inlet. She’s a mixed breed but looks very much like a Labrador and her name is little girl-it’s what she answers to so she must like it. Papa Fred and her are inseparable already as she cries and howls when he steps outside alone even for a minute.

Well I pray your all safe, warm and happy and as is my norm I’ll leave you with a few random pics. god Bless all and thanks for reading.

Catching up-Again!

It’s been awhile since I have posted and I apologize but truly I have been busy!

Spent a week in North Pole with my dear sissy which was a lot of fun but odd for me to be away from  my kids for so long. I can say having the freedom to not “Mom” reminded me of how much I cherish my family. Sissy and I did have fun being two  girls with no one to answer to. If we wanted hot fudge sundaes we ate them!  I did get to go see Santa’s village, hug a moose and get groped by a polar bear!The return trip was eventful. Murphy’s Law says if your in a no cell service area you will need cell service and I did! I broke down in a construction area and sat by the side of the road almost 6 hours until the tow truck arrived. It was not boring though by any means! The construction workers were so thoughtful and kept the coffee flowing and treats abounded. I finally had to tell them to stop or I would need a second tow truck to haul me out of there. My sissy is a magician with a phone. She managed to find someone in the town I was towed to who could get to the dodge dealership before they closed for the weekend, get my part AND had a garage and tools available so I could fix my truck. 20 minutes after the tow truck dropped me off I had the injector line changed and was scrubbing the diesel off my hands. I paid the guys for the part and the use of the garage and tools and was once again happily on my way.

Upon arriving home I was greeted by all of my 2 and 4 legged kids with much gusto. 10 minutes home and my dear goat who must of been crossing her legs for a week began to beller. She then presented me with twin buckling kids. Timing is everything! 2 days later another girl gave me twin doelings. 6 more girls-or maybe it’s 7? To go and kidding season will be done.

Did I mention that the night before my 12 hour drive I butchered half a moose? Several days prior friends of ours recieved a call from the troopers that there was an injured moose dispatched near them, they asked for dear hubbies help in retrieving it and offered to share. Hubby came home with the back end of a very large cow. I skinned and washed it then seared it to kill any bacteria on it and hubby and I hung it up. After wrapping in burlap and wetting it down (evaporation cools very quickly) we hung it to age. The weather was warm but we had a few rain showers that came through and then the wind would blow and it kept the meat at 40 degrees even though it was 60 outside. Close to 200 pounds of meat to feed the family and the steaks are so awesome. I worried that I had rushed the butchering but the meat is very tender so no worries. Busy busy busy summer! Planting the greenhouses is keeping me really busy. With not having soil available I must create my own. Plenty of sand, clay, moss and fertilizer from the critters all hauled to the planter boxes, mixed together and ta da! Soil! It sounds easy until you haul it all by hand-over a ton so far and still more to do but the rewards will be great when we are eating fresh salads, tomatoes and various pickles produced by our own hands.

Well I think we are caught up now so I’ll wish you a blessed day and get mine started. As is my norm I’ll leave you with random pics of life in the Alaska Bush-God Bless you all!

train going by while i waited on side of road for tow truck
tractor boat launch at Anchor Point Beach
modeling new coat from auntie
​What does a turkey chick look like when it’s hatching?

Adventures in life

Hi all, it’s been a few days since my last post so I’ll give you a quick run down of what’s been happening. Monday we butchered a hog and the video camera ran out of battery about 1/3 of the way through so I’ll do my best to piece together a video at a later date. 

Tuesday Papa Fred who’s been having some medical issues that needed immediate attending got to make a trip to the ER after I grew tired of waiting (3 weeks) for VA to get back to us. He is having trouble with his bladder emptying and without going into details we were fortunate enough to get a great doctor who understands how and where we live. He drained 4 liters of fluid, sent him home with some medical devices that I can take care of until next Thursday when we meet up with the surgeon. What a great doctor he is-they couldn’t get us in at surgeons office for a month, the ER doc called the surgeon, explained what was going on and got us an appointment in a week. Thank you Jesus for putting us where we needed to be and with such an awesome medical staff. 

I’m so grateful Kimberly has come to assist me. She’s been a godsend for sure. We spent yesterday cutting up part of the pig, getting one ham and one side of the bacon curing so I can smoke it next week. Today we will do the other side then begin cutting and wrapping the rest of it and begin freezing it. Our weather has been perfect for the entire process. Mid to high 30s in the day, low 30’s at night. 


   What awesome kids I have! My daughter Cati had earned some money when she went to assist a friend in town for a few days. At 11 she is quite the hand at cooking and cleaning. She is also a very generous soul who wanted to share her bounty. Dear hubby was going to town to meet up with my oldest son Corbin who had acquired some discarded building materials that would be useful to us so Cati asked if he could do some shopping for her. He came home with the materials and her completed shopping list. A treat for all! Banana splits for supper! I used to randomly do this kind of thing on rare occasions back when we could afford such treats. How blessed am I to have a child so giving.  
 My sissy invited me to come stay with her in May for a week, I’m so excited!!!! It will be just us girls as Paul will be gone and I have big plans to eat too much ice cream, stay up late giggling and nap randomly. Yes ladies I know you get it-a moms vacation for sure. I just wish May were closer as I’m already antsy with anticipation.

One thing I’ve discovered in life is to always expect the unexpected and trust that God has you covered. With Faith as my fuel and God as my pilot I’m sure that I’m in for more adventures that will be  to his glory! Have a blessed day all.

Dan and Robin is it leap year yet? Sure missing you two!

New day dawning

It’s a crisp winters morning here in Alaska,26 degrees out and clear skies. I love mornings like this when the stars are so bright they seem to come to life and the ice appears to twinkle with them in unison as if they are dancing to an unheard melody. 

I’m back to making goat rounds every couple of hours but will admit I missed one check last night as I slept-finally. Insomnia is something I have always battled but lately it’s been even worse. No new babies yet but will post when they arrive. Yay it’s baby time again! 

Spring is just around the corner and with the arrival of spring everything is fresh and new. Yes spring is my favorite time of year with the trees budding out and grass growing but all in due time. We mustn’t rush it as each season has its purpose and with the confusion our world seems to be in I definitely don’t want to add to that.

Yesterday was a fun day. My friend Kimberly has returned from the outside (lower 48). Making Alaska her home now she wants to learn to be self sufficient and part of that is raising and processing your own food. I had 11 chickens that needed to go to freezer camp so we butchered chickens. We use a cone to hold them and dispatch but one particular chicken had grown to be quite large and didn’t fit so well. It managed to free itself (headless) and began running around. It appeared to be chasing Kimberly who stood there, mouth agape, eyes as big around as saucers, looking at it as if it were a zombie chicken about to eat her. Always the trooper she is, Kimberly quickly recovered her composure when I told her grab the chicken as it flipped and flopped it’s way through the water and slush. One thing you will find that will make any job easier is enjoying the moments of surprise. We all had a great laugh including Kimberly and it made the day go much quicker.

For now we have a few days of dry weather much catching up has to be done. The last storm left many trees down and they must be gathered before they absorb too much water and aren’t usable in the near future. Dear hubby carefully selects the logs that will be used for sawing into lumber and those that will be firewood. They then have to cut them to manageable lengths and haul to their proper location. Keeping up with this after a wind storm is a lot of work and leaving them in place is a waste so it must be done. Using deadfall is one of the ways we conserve our forest. It keeps it healthier and more productive for the future.

The second pot of coffee is now happily perking away on the stove, the roosters are crowing very loudly and although sunrise is still hours away it’s time for me to get busy preparing breakfast and critter food. I pray you each are blessed with peace in your hearts and the ability to enjoy each new day. God Bless

Turkey Butchering ****Warning graphic pics******

As promised I am sharing our turkey butchering.  Butchering any poultry you must prepare the animals the day before.  No food for 12 hours prior but allow water.  This will make cleaning the birds much easier.  Assemble the following: A very large pot for scalding and a heat source-propane turkey fryers work well. (you can dry pluck but I prefer scalding as it cleans the birds and removes a thin layer of skin where dirt gets trapped).  A second large pot or tub of clean cold water for rinsing after gutting, a propane torch or any source of flame for singeing the pin feathers (optional) sharp knives, a cooler for the dressed bird, a separate tub of cold water for the giblets, neck and feet if you choose to keep those.  A long wire with a weight (3-5 lbs.. sturdy string or twine for tying feet and hanging.  While one person holds the bird with wings pressed against its sides another ties feet together-these pics show my 60 lb. 10 year old daughter holding the 30 lb. bird while hubby ties its feet.  The bird is then hung up and the wire with weight is inserted in the soft tissue under the beak and through the mouth and twisted in place then quickly given a sharp tug.  This will break its neck and put it into shock so it doesn’t feel pain.  We then make a slit below the head (front side) to severe the artery and bleed the bird out.  Allow it to hang at least 10 minutes to bleed out.  You may seem some wing flapping so stay clear as the wings are powerful but it is only muscle contractions at this time. Grab head and pull while making a cut all the way around the base of the head to remove it.  You may encounter a tough cord, this is the spinal cord and just cut through it.

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Once the turkey is bled out untie legs and scald-make sure the water is right at boiling as it will make your job easier. Scald the bird for a couple of minutes pushing it down with feet to completely submerge any feathered areas.  This is the most difficult part as the bird gets much heavier with wet feathers!  Remove and test by pulling some of the leg feathers, if they come out easy then put it on the table breast side up and begin plucking.  I prefer to do wings first while still hot.  These feathers can be difficult.  You will find that when plucking if you leave a few feathers in your fingertips and rub the smaller feathers will roll out.  Some people swear by rubber gloves during this process but I have never been able to work with them on.  Get off as many feathers as you can.  Some new growth or broken feathers can be removed by squeezing (like a pimple) I know-yuck but that is the way it is and unless you want to find out what cooked feathers taste like you will get them out.  Some feathers are very small almost hairlike and that’s when using the torch comes in handy as it burns them off leaving a tiny back spot that will wash away.

Once you have plucked and singed put bird breast side up on table with neck facing you, grab the skin on the neck and slide down.  Cut this skin off 3 -4 inches from the body then push it back against body.  Holding bird with one hand stretch out the neck as far as you can.  This will separate the neck bones and make removal easier.  as close to the body as you can slice through the flesh all the way around the base of the neck and set down your knife.  If you have some help holding bird this will be much easier. Grab the neck and twist then with tip of knife sever any tissue that is still connected.  An alternative way to do this is to use large garden clippers to cut through the neck.

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Once this is completed take your fingers and slide along the skin on the right side and separate the craw from the attaching tissues and pull this out (this is why no food for 12 hours, an empty craw is much cleaner to deal with).cut it off and discard.

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Turn the bird around still breast side up and at the knee joint slice through at the bend and snap backwards to reveal the inside of joint and cut the tendon inside continuing on through to slice through skin and remove feet.  After a bit of practice this part gets easier to do.  once feet are removed then make a horizontal slit a half inch above the cloaca (yep its discharge end) this is made easier by sliding the skin up on the breast and making it taut.  Slip your fingers in to help guide knife and cut around the cloaca now enlarge the horizontal cut large enough to get your hand in.  Sliding fingers in an upward movement against the breast bone grab the gizzard, it feels like a hard rock in there. Pull that out and the innards will follow.  Cut the gizzard free and set aside  then find the liver it looks like a big red blob.  Notice the green sac hanging from it-do not puncture or cut that as it is full of bile (if you do quickly wash off all traces) cut around the bile sac to remove liver and set aside.  Now remove the rest of the innards and discard.  Reaching back in feel all the way up to neck and grab out the heart.  Trim away the veins and arteries and set that aside in your cold water tub.  Once all the guts have been removed rake your fingers along the rib cage to remove air sacs and windpipe.  Put the bird in the cold water tub and scrub the remaining blood and airsacs out then wipe over outside to wash off any bits that have stuck.

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Place in cooler and fill with cold water.  Add ice if needed to keep temp between 36-40 degrees.  maintain this for 24 hours then empty water, rinse bird and repeat.  Do this for 48 hours before freezing or cooking 72 hours is even better and your bird will be moist and tender.  Note***** DO not skip on the rinsing of the bird every 24 hours or changing water-this is important to maintain an enviroment were bacteria doesn’t grow.  Do not permit temp to rise over 40 degrees!!!!

Keep gizzard, livers and hearts in separate water baths under refrigeration until time to either cook or freeze.

If keeping the gizzard you need to clean it.  Lay it in your hand and cut it open  ( if you look at it you will see a white area that gets narrow in the middle-cut it there and turn inside out.  It should be full of rocks or grit.  this is how birds process food.  Empty the grit out and notice there is a rubbery lining.  peel that lining out and discard. in th pics here you will see bits of melted aluminum the turkey ate digging through ash pies.  I look at every gizzard-who knows someday we may find a gold nugget!

If freezing your bird place neck, gizzard, heart and liver inside a  plastic bag.  Insert that into body cavity for easy removal during thawing. Finding bags large enough for a 20+ pound turkey is almost impossible ( cooking bags will work) I use trash can liners and double bag, expel as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn.

With a little practice you will find that you can process birds in a matter of minutes. The prep and cleanup takes longer than the processing.  We do literally a hundred plus chickens and turkeys a year and hope that by the grace of God we are blessed enough to do even more next year.  Knowing where and how your meats are raised and processed is important in todays world.  Our animals lead a fulfilling happy life from the day they are born until the day they become meat on our table or someone elses.  Free to roam and not be caged up 24/7.