Self Sufficiency – Not for the Faint of Heart

I apologize to those of you looking for the gluten free beer recipe. You’ll have to wait, because I haven’t been able to get to the brewing process for pictures, yet.

Skinning the steer – yes, that’s war paint on his face

The last two weeks have been full of twelve hour days processing food in one way or another. For decades I have been obsessed with self-sufficiency, at least when it comes to food. And living in Alaska makes doing so difficult in some ways. Our autumn is short. Blink, and the carrots have frozen into the ground. Plus our daylight is disappearing at a rate of over five minutes a day – we are down to about ten hours of daylight if we need to work outside.

But the cool weather is perfect for butchering. We slaughtered my son’s 4-H hog and steer, which surprisingly took only one twelve hour day. Then we cut up and froze the pork while the beef “aged” in the back yard for a week. The quarters hung from a beam set across two industrial strength ladders. Game bags kept the marauding magpies at bay (mostly – the cheap game bag made of a stretchy material had several suspicious holes in it along the suet line, so I think little beaks may have nibbled a few bits. We cut those portions away.)

From quarter to burger

Sausage patties

Once we began butchering, it took us five full days of work to reduce all four quarters to neat little packages for the freezer.

Stew meat

Breakfast patties

Freezer packages

I’m no professional butcher, but my cookbook has pictures of cuts of meat with a labeled picture of what part of the animal they come from, so I am pretty pleased with our results. Last night we ate bacon wrapped Filet Mignon and maybe it was all the hard work, but I’ve never had better.

This isn’t mine – we ate too fast to get a photo

There is something intensely satisfying with setting a table prepared with food all raised by my own hand. I know if the world falls apart (like in Botanicaust) I’ll be able to at least feed my family.

And while I may not have been writing while bringing in all this food, I have been gathering ideas for future books along the way. Maybe I’ll figure out how to make leather 🙂

Salting the hide

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© Tam Linsey, 2011. All rights reserved.


6 thoughts on “Self Sufficiency – Not for the Faint of Heart

  1. Casey Wyatt

    Tam, if there is ever a zombie apocaplyse or alien invasion, I’m coming to live with you. But seriously, that is an impressive amount of work to accomplish in such a short period of time.

    1. Tam Linsey Post author

      Haha! We actually do worry if there were an apocalypse, how could we turn people away? I have an ulterior motive in getting the neighborhood kids to help. Little do they know I am training them to join the farm 🙂

    1. Tam Linsey Post author

      Thanks, Brinda. I find it interesting that the things I take for granted, others find fascinating. I’m sure I react the same way to things in other people’s lives. Like raising five foster kids, or taking the subway to work everyday.

  2. DeNise

    Congratulations. It is hard work and feeding a family healthy food is worth every effort. I’ve butchered moose but somehow that is different than a hog or a steer that you’ve raised. This year was my first for canning chickens culled from my flock. Thanks to you for your encouragement, it went well. I don’t know that brewing beer will ever get on my list though.
    Good post

    1. Tam Linsey Post author

      Good for you with the chickens! I agree, it is a different experience to butcher an animal you know than to shoot a moose in the field. But I like the “guaranteed meat” part of it.


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