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SMOKE RIDGE DIARY


Does provide us a living — and in the end provide us meat for the freezer


No matter how well we care for our meat goats, there is one


thing that we can’t change or make much difference in: each animal ages and eventually, their lives will end. As the years pass, we have learned that here is a point at which animals do make it clear that they are ready to leave this world. Some of you may scoff that if we think that, we’re not ‘real’ goat ranchers, but rather, overly emotional oddballs. You may believe that the animals are simply cogs in a ma- chine that eat forage and produce product for us to sell. Others may criticize us for being too tough on the goats and not caring enough for them. Reality — for us — is somewhere between those two ideas, both of which are true.


Over the years, in trying to accomplish both the humane and business objectives of our enterprise, we have come up with the fol- lowing: our beloved old lady-goats, many of whom have been with us for a decade or more, are taken to a local processing facility on a very short trailer-ride with some of their friends. We get them back in one to two-pound packages of ground goat, and the does nourish


us from our freezer. What about old bucks? Excellent question. Another honest an-


swer, based on experience: we bury them if we can’t find anyone who will promise a gracious end for them in exchange for being able to keep their horns.


Why do we duck the challenge of old bucks? Because although we think that buck odor means happy does and next year’s kids to be made, having tried buck meat, we’ll pass on the opportunity to eat any more. Buck scent as a flavor is not one that either of us grew up eating and therefore not a favored taste. How was that phrase for being diplomatic?


But ground beloved-old-lady goat makes for terrific meat to cook up and mix into spaghetti sauce or use in tacos. Because the meat tends to be super lean, our trial in using it to make burgers was a resounding failure! If you’ve ever heard of ‘pulled pork,’ our trial burgers were ‘broken burgers’ or ‘cracked-up chevon.’ At least the trial prompted laughter and led to delicious spa- ghetti with chevon-sauce. Thanks — I think I know what we could have for dinner tonight … Years ago, when I still got things ready for dinner — even when I could walk around the house, I detested cooking, finding it a huge waste of time. Craig came in one evening and asked what was for dinner, and I answered him that dinner was Cocolat’s kid. Here’s a question, readers: if a goat was terrific in life — one that you wish you had many more just like her — do you think that you might find her meat delicious? Dr. Pinkerton has told me that there is little difference in taste tests between fresh and previously-frozen goat meat, when tasters are asked. I have recently learned why some consumers prefer fresh meat to has-been-frozen meat, which is that those consumers can worry about what might be in the water used to treat the meat so that it will freeze well/more attractively.


Admitting that I care only that meat has been processed so that it is safe for humans to eat, I admit that given a choice between ground beloved-old-lady-goat and purchased at the grocery store meat, I’ll choose home-raised goat meat. Why? Because that way a small amount of our grocery money doesn’t leave our hands. We do buy things at the grocery store that we don’t raise our- selves such as vegetables, milk, cheese, eggs and bread and beef. But very honestly, giving the beloved old lady-goats a quick and easy end that also benefits us is much more important to us than re-allocating any part of the grocery budget.


(This column’s information is based on raising meat goats in Montana and on The Meat Goat Handbook, written by Yvonne and published by Voyageur Press, which is for sale from Smoke Ridge at www.SmokeRidge.net. E-mail questions to smokeridge@3rivers.net that you would like to have answered in this column.)


8 Goat Rancher | July 2020


BY YVONNE ZWEEDE-TUCKER


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