Paddock to Plate
Paddock to plate. Little Owl Gully’s paddocks; beef or goat meat on the plate. Beef to freezer-ready stage in the hands of butchers: their mobile abattoir and home-kill, their chiller for the carcass, their vacuum packer to seal the beef cuts off from the air. Goat meat (chevon if you like), to freezer-ready stage in my hands: my home-kill, our fridge to chill the carcass (to fit – cut into six large pieces), our thick plastic bags and clips to seal off the goat cuts from the air as best we can.
After a year freezer burn is startlingly evident on the goat meat – what started smooth textured and a glistening, moist dark-hued red has changed to a dull, dry, brownish-pink, and fibrous. Oxidation and microorganisms have diminished the nutritional value. To prevent that happening to the beef, we paid an extra $150 to have the meat vacuum packed.
In total, $820.99 (love the 99 cents!), for a Dexter cattle beast carcass that, on the hook, weighed a mere 204 kg. The kill charge alone, irrespective of size of animal, was $175. But I’ve neither the time nor the inclination to slaughter and butcher a cow or steer myself. It’s nowhere near as involved when I do a goat – they’re a great deal smaller for starters!
We remind ourselves that the organic beef is from a cow that lived its entire four years on our property – we’ll have premium quality meat (well-preserved in a vacuum), for at least the next three years. And that at around the same time, a much larger Dexter-cross cow had fetched close to $1400 at the saleyards.
The sums don’t look too bad after all. Not so confident about next time. Now that I no longer have breeding stock, I have to purchase weaned calves. A cool $480 a piece for a couple of Dexter-crosses that won’t grow as big as that cow I sent to the saleyards.
It won’t be for lack of trying though! I keep understocked these days and there’s always plenty of pasture feed, even in winter. Not that I’ve been put to the test by a prolonged drought or massive dumping of snow since I adopted this regimen. I keep a dozen or so small bales of hay in reserve just in case.
They’re moved every few days in a sixteen paddock rotation during their three to four year stay at Little Owl Gully, kept in line by herd mother Violet. One destined for our table, the other for the saleyards. To be replaced once again by two youngsters who’ll keep Violet company for three to four years – barely a herd, but there it is.
Like they say in the history books, change and continuity. Time will tell!
That’s all on modern-day homesteading at Little Owl for this week. We’ve been eating goat meat most evening meals this week – next Monday’s post: Goat on the plate.
Thanks for your company. Bye for now.