Killing almost done.

Number four of ten.

Today was the day!  I was hoping this was going to be the last of the sheep killing for the year.  It won’t be but it was close.  One of my friends wanted 9 lambs and he comes to the house and we kill them and his dad cuts them up.  This is a lot more work for me but for Don, the nicest guy I know, I make exceptions.  I did tell him that we would need to kill our ram also.  As an added bonus he usually has to help me band and tag a few babies when we are sorting the sheep and today was no different.  I knew there was at least two babies without tags.  I had just ran them into the barn right before he arrived.  Zeke is proving just how smart a border collie can be today.  We went out to get the sheep and they were all the way down by the school house on the upper hillside.  So we walked down but the gate was at the top of the hill and the bottom of the hill and we were in the middle of the hill.  I was able to teach him how to climb up the rock jack and jump over the fence at the top.  It took some prompting but he did it!  First time ever for this trick.  I then just stood on the hill and hollered commands while he herded the sheep down below to the open gate and over to the barn.  His only mistake was letting one of the babies break ranks over by the barn and get trapped on the wrong side of the fence away from everyone else.  He had to go down and circle behind the baby and push it back to the herd.  Every once in a while he lets a couple squirt out from the edges.

We sorted the sheep using the fancy sheep chute and tagged and banded two new baby boys about three weeks old.  We sorted off fourteen boys and kept them in the barn then chased all the babies and mommys out of the barn.  This is where the killing doesn’t end.  We have an all white ewe from a Katahdin ram that mysteriously died of a wasting disease. She is literally wasting away, very skinny with bones sticking out.  No one else in the whole herd looks like her.  She looks just like her father did before we had to put him down.  I will put her down in the next week and just take her body up to the boneyard.  His death is what caused us to go pick up all our new rams from their homes.  It allows us to see how the animals are raised and what their herd looks like before we purchase a ram.  We are sticking to that rule with all new rams.  Our current ram came from a beautiful home and has thrown wonderful babies, but he now has granddaughters in the herd and his bloodline is making everyone jumpy and scared all the time.  So it was time for him to go away, and with those beautiful horns he was not going to a new home. 

We then resorted the fourteen boys and put ten of them into the chute for processing.  Don’s dad wanted to know how I killed them.  I said I had learned to kill them by slicing the carotid arteries with a fillet knife by stabbing them behind the trachea then turning the blade 90 degrees and hold the wound open so they bleed out without starving for air because the trachea is not cut.  I said someone had told me this is how the local Basque gentleman had taught him so I have been practicing it.  He said this is how a Kosher butcher would do it without the blessings.  I didn’t know that.  Don and I hung each lambs head out the barn window and I proceeded to bleed them out.  I did the first nine without missing.  Perfect every time. Unfortunately, I was saving the ram for last as he is the largest of the animals.  He was getting very nervous by the time we snatched the last three boys out of the chute.  He tried to jump out on the last animal.  So I told Don we had to get him as soon as we finished the ninth one so he didn’t jump out of the chute.  We got him into the small section of the chute and I tried to get in with him.  He kept trying to ram me with his very large horns.  It was not safe, then he tried to jump out by going over a gate and caught his back foot in the gate and broke his leg.  I had to go inside the house and get a 22 pistol and shoot him in the head inside the barn.  Next time the ram goes first and I will start taking the pistol out to the barn when I am killing so it is handy if needed.  He was a lot bigger than I had estimated.  He weighed over 150 pounds!  I have him hanging out on the skinning pole.  I will buy some suet tomorrow and then bone out his carcass.  We are going to grind him up and make mutton burger.

Our ram, soon to be mutton burger.

I make a great summer sausage that is even better with a strong flavored meat.  Its pretty good with plain hamburger but with a strong flavored meat it is divine.  Not sure why it is so much better with a strong flavored meat.  I just purchased a meat grinder for our Kitchen Aid and it came two days ago in the mail, all hail the great AMAZON! 

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