Saturday, November 14, 2009

YAK TRACKS: Yakking About Yak "Retirement"

Happy Hunting Season here in Vermont!

I stopped by the local general store this morning to put air in the ties of the F-150, and ran into a small group of hunters who bagged this deer literally 20 minutes into their morning, the first day of hunting season here in Vermont, up off of the Moretown Common road.

It got me thinking about how we at Vermont Yak Company are in the meat business ourselves, though we are working with a domesticated animal, not one in the wild.

And then, I remembered an ongoing discussion on our YAKS YAHOO listserve about how to process yak meat.

From our YAKS YAHOO list - an elegant;y simple description of how to process yaks on-farm. We've done one of these ourselves at Steadfast Farm - to those who aren't used to local meat processing, the procedure may seem a bit grisly. But this is how its been done for thousands of years, friends.

Call animal to a special area with alfalfa they love, and that we can access easily with the backhoe or a tractor and fence off. Shoot and cut throat to bleed. (This is the hardest part for me, fortunately my husband does this, because they trusted us and were happy to come over, but by the time the bleeding stops I've wiped away the tears and have to go to work.)

Hook back legs through a cut near hock to bucket of backhoe with chains. Lift and lay out carcass on back on 2 big beams, to aid in skinning, covered with clean tarp. Begin skinning. Periodically lift with backhoe to allow hide to fall away while cutting off feet. Hang and gut. Use sawzall to split down backbone. Rinse to remove any cartilage or debris. (Am told by processor, getting it too wet could interfere in the aging process). Quarter with a hand meat saw, allowing quarters to lay down on clean sheets in which they're wrapped, and take to the processor where they're directly hung in the cooler to age for 2 weeks.

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