New year, new meat

By HUNTER HILL
Posted 1/8/20

A new year is upon us, and that means a couple of things out here in the sticks. Folks are staying indoors, ambitious gardeners are perusing the seed catalogues and, if you’re like me, the …

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New year, new meat

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A new year is upon us, and that means a couple of things out here in the sticks. Folks are staying indoors, ambitious gardeners are perusing the seed catalogues and, if you’re like me, the freezer is being re-stocked. Deer season has all but passed; in its wake is the work of processing the harvest. That’s what I found myself working on this past weekend, as I still had one last deer hanging in the cooler at my wife’s family farm. The timing was good because, in the last week or so, we had eaten our last package of venison and the freezer chest in our basement began to look as empty as our bellies would be without our harvest. 

I exaggerate, of course, because I had already processed two other deer, which just needed to be picked up from the freezer at the farm. However, for the amount of venison-fueled hamburger helper that my wife makes, three deer are far better than two. 

If any of you have a chef for a wife, you will understand that one type of meat in the freezer is also a problem. Albeit, I was unaware of the impending work associated with solving said problem. So, as I walked away from packing away the deer, I was happy to take a respite for a few moments to visit with my father-in-law and son. I sat down and began to draw those precious first sips from my black coffee. Then it happened. My wife returned to the room and began what appeared to be an innocent conversation with her dad. In the exchange of pleasantries, it was casually brought up that he had given her and me a half of a pig for Christmas. It was at this point my sense of suspicion rose, and I paused from sipping my coffee. On cue, my lovely, caring, beautiful wife asked if the pig had been slaughtered yet, to which my generous, wonderful, helpful father-in-law replied, “Yup, it’s all hung and ready for you to cut.” 

I quickly worked to finish my coffee, as I watched my wife’s face turn to me, knowing already what she was about to ask. As she began to ask if it was okay that we stay longer to cut up the pig, I simply nodded my head, downing my coffee and reinvigorating myself to go work some more. Moments later I was back in the farm’s cutting room, cleaning off tools from the venison in preparation for pork. While I may have had other plans for the afternoon, none of those were about to fill the freezer, and like they say, there’s no time like the present. 

Fortunately, my father-in-law offered to finish the sausage and smoked parts when he did his other batches the following day, so I was off the hook for a bit of the work. My wife was already hungrily eyeing the slab of bacon that hadn’t even been smoked or sliced yet. We finished up before too long and cleaned up all the tools and tables, a few milk crates full of freshly butchered meat waiting in the freezer to be taken home.

The way out here is a lot of little things: filling the freezer, making sure your wife has a steady supply of bacon and spending quality time working with family. And at the end of the day, it’s the little things that make things the way they are out here. Happy New Year, readers. As we begin 2020, don’t forget the little things.

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