Monday, January 26, 2009

Back Story-because I'm fancy

We did some butchering this weekend, but before I note any of that I have to tell an old butchering story, so it gets it's own post.

2005 February. The time of year when we butcher cattle because we don't have a cooler yet at the 'butcher shop.' The 'butcher shop' is where all our equipment is located: meat saw, giant grinder, stainless steel tables, plastic wrapper, knives, gambrels, hooks, etc. It's also Mark's grandparents' garage. I realize that probably doesn't sound sanitary, but I believe that it's at least as sanitary as any other butcher shop with all the scalding water, bleach, and detergent we use to clean it. Cleanliness is a huge issue. Kind of anal about the cleanliness. And for as many years as we've been butchering there, no one has balked at it's location, and lots of folks have been repeat customers.
So it's February, the weather is right for hanging meat. This year Mark had the neighbor bring down his ridiculously giant tractor with a front end loader to hoist the steer up in the air to be skinned and quartered. Back in '05, Mark had fabricated a giant tripod, probably 20 plus feet tall, out of heavy metal pipe. The legs were not fixed, they were moveable on a bolt that held them together.
It's still fascinating to me how all the neighbors around here help one another. It doesn't matter when or what. If someone asks for help, you help. If you ask for help, they help. Doesn't matter how crappy a job it's going to be or how inconvenient, folks just help. So Mark's friend Mike came down to help hoist this beef.
Mike lives up the road and is sort of distantly related to Mark. He's strong as an ox and his hands and fingers are probably four times the size of mine. Perfect help.
So they erect the tripod, climb a ladder to attach a come-along to the top, and attach the other end of the come-along to the beef so Mark can skin and quarter it. Mike then climbs the ladder and starts ratcheting up the beef. Hundreds of pounds of animal. Many, many cranks of the handle. Not entirely stable tripod. Mike on a ladder propped against it. Doing some quick calculations, I'm pretty sure that equals disaster. Life Flight-type disaster.
The higher the beef is cranked, the more precarious Mike's balance becomes until all hell breaks loose. The beef, tripod, and ladder all go ass over teakettle. Mike goes down to the ground and right into the path of one of the heavy metal legs of the tripod. It strikes him in the back of the head and sends him to his knees. Mark saw him rise once, grab his head with both hands, and then fall. Nightmare.
Mark kept him as comfortable as he could while they waited for the ambulance and life flight helicopter. Miraculously, he never lost consciousness. Even more miraculously, he had no serious or permanent injuries. Craziness.
Mark spent a lot of time at the hospital during his recovery. They watched the Super Bowl together there. And fortunately all turned out well. Come to think of it, I think that tripod is still laying discarded over the hill, pretty much where it fell.

Back Story-Part Two

Back in the day, whenever we butchered, Mark would call Bo. Bo is a Laotian with a large Laotian family and he was always happy for whatever 'byproducts' we had left over. He didn't have to eat 'byproducts' by any means, but he liked to, and we were happy they went to good use. I'm not fooling with the intestines. I don't have the patience or expertise, and sausage casings can be bought without the poop in them. I believe Mark said that he took the penis, too. He pickled it in homemade moonshine. No lie.
So Bo was present for the huge tripod catastrophe. He was working on some intestines at the time, and he was still working on intestines when everyone sped off to the hospital.
While everyone was gone, Bo asked Mark's grandpap a question. Pops thought it was something to do with the beef, but he really couldn't understand Bo, who sometimes spoke perfect English and sometimes didn't. But there was smiling and nodding and 'Sure! Go ahead!' And that was the end of it.
Until Mark was finally able to return to take care of the beef.
Bo had taken the entire filet out of one of the sides of beef. Carved out the filet. Stole it. Ruined all those steaks. We were sick and dumbfounded.
Mark did call him and ask him about it and he finally offered to pay for it, but we just wrote it off as an expensive lesson learned. Needless to say, we haven't invited him back. Shame really. All those guts going to waste now.

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