Before we moved to our homestead we purchased a longhorn cow from a neighbor through a herd share program. We arrived in Texas on the heels of the worst drought in recorded history, so needless to say keeping that longhorn fed was a pricey proposition.

So we decided it was time to eat her.

The last few months of my pregnancy I affectionately referred to her as steak-y. I simply couldn’t wait for some good, fresh meat. And then in April we finally pulled the trigger… figuratively.

Our first thought was that we would butcher her ourselves with a lot of help from the neighbors (since we don’t really know what we’re doing), but the weather never cooled down enough over the winter. So off to the butcher she went.

She came back in two installments and filled our freezer and canning jars with almost 200 pounds of pastured longhorn beef. I requested all of the organ meats except the brain and, of course, I wanted all of the bones.

We got 14 quarts of very concentrated stock out of her and the first two weeks were full of organ meats. We ate liver and onions, steak and kidney stew, oxtail stew, and tongue tacos.

To be honest, I was relieved when no more weird looking "parts" of her were left in the freezer. The tongue tacos were actually really good though.

We are hopeful that this meat will last us another six months if stretched out and supplemented with plenty of eggs, beans, and a few butchered chickens here and there.

Her name was Cholula and she has served us well.


7 Responses to Butchering The Cow

  1. We buy our beef in 1/2 cow increments from our dairy farmer. I have them grind the heart in with the ground beef, but I have been too timid to try any other organ meats (I do have the liver in the freezer!).

    How did you go about making stock from the bones? Technique for making stock, as well as logistics (aren’t the bones too long, etc.)? And did you then can it, or ??

    Thanks for being a pioneer! :)


  2. Cindy says:

    That’s really exciting to have taken this big step in your sustainability journey. Like Tiffany, we buy our meat from a local farmer, so we know the animals are treated kindly and allowed to act as cows should, and that our ground beef contains meat from only our cow. But with a 1/4 acre lot, laying ducks are all we’re keeping. It’s fun to experience your adventures vicariously.


  3. Brandis says:

    I, too am interested in the logistics of making the stock. I mean, I imagine any of the bones not included in the cuts of meat were cut up by the butcher for you, but did you can the stock?

    Anyway, that’s exciting, and I’m jealous! I wish we could have a cow, but I can’t really complain. Other than dairy animals, we have the opportunity to make a lot of our other homesteading dreams come true, and we have lots of pastured poultry to eat that we have raised ourselves. I am working next on talking my husband into sheep and a few dairy goats. He claims I have enough animals already (what, 80 chickens is too many?) and isn’t the biggest fan of lamb, so it’s an uphill battle. Thankfully we’re able to get what I call “compromise” beef from my dad (it’s raised on pasture, not confined, always outside, my dad doesn’t even own a barn, but he corn finishes the meat, even though they always have access to either hay or pasture, even during finishing) for a ridiculously low price.


  4. I so love hearing about other freezers stocked with local, grass-fed beef and pastured animals. Being a suburbanite, we order ours from a local farmer and there is no going back once you have eaten fresh meat from a well cared for animal. Our almost empty freezer is quivering in anticipation of our 1/4 cow and 1/2 hog that will be finished next week. :)

    Happy eating!


  5. Janet says:

    We raise Dexter cattle. We have 2 cows that both usually give us a baby every year. We have been blessed to have a complete butcher shop that L bought from her uncle who was a butcher before he retired. The 1st time we did a steer we had him slaughtered by someone else but it cost us so much that we decided to do it ourselves. We now do it all ourselves. It is quite a big operation. We slaughter one day and refrigerate the meat for 10 days to 2 weeks. You should have seen the meat when we started doing this. We didn’t have anywhere large enough to hang it so we cut it in fourths and stuffed it in the refrigerators. You could hardly tell what the pieces were supposed to be. This year we bought an old chimerical ref. and still cutting it into quarters were able to hang it. We got a lot better cuts this time. We all work on it together. There are 6 adults that live here. My husband & myself, our son and grandson and 2 ladies. It takes a good 8 hrs. to cut & wrap and clean up. But the meat is sooo good!! We are still learning as we go but are getting better at it.

    Dexter’s are smaller than reg. size cows so this is a plus for us. We do have some friends who help us and we share with them. We cut up all the bones and I make stock out of them (I’m the cook). I usually freeze the bones 1st. as we are so tired after doing the steer that I don’t want to do much the first few days. After it is done I can &/or freeze it.

    Sorry this is so long just wanted to share our experience.


  6. Ina Gawne says:

    Shannon – I bet your beef tastes delicious! I have farm envy – would love to have chickens and my own cow – it is as natural as it gets. I made your Fermented Salsa recipe with a link back to you….we LOVE it! Thanks, Ina


  7. joanne says:

    I’m not sure about why you would not butcher it yourselves because of the weather? Maybe we are doing something wrong, but we butcher whenever a cow (or deer) is offered to us. So far it’s been at night and it’s been in the summer each time. We get a gang together, several tables, a meat grinder or two, a lot of knives and buckets as well as different size freezer bags or tubs to hold the finished meat in.

    The next day is filled with canning &/or freezing. So far, no ill has come to us, so I assume the way we do it is fine?? We do not have the money to pay someone to do it, so we just pitch in and get it done. It’s a LOT of work, but is well worth it.


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