Monday, September 24, 2018

The Business of Butchering

What a year this has been!!  Our butcher shop has been open for almost a year -  November 20th will mark our 1 year anniversary.  It has been a year of ups and down, of learning and struggling, but mostly of getting our feet under us.

Although we started off slowly, with crazy busy times thrown in for good measure, we have continued to have just enough work to keep us going.  We have had return customers and customers that have been referred by our other customers.  And as fall has drawn closer our calendar has begun to fill.  In fact, just today, I scheduled 8 beef to be slaughtered, along with 2 pigs!

Last week, our county fair came to a close and we were called upon to slaughter a number of the animals.  We filled our cooler with 14 additional swine and 4 additional steers - and this week, the animals just keep on coming.

As we work our way through the domestic animals in our cooler, we are also butchering wild game.  Our area is the gateway to incredible wilderness, known for an abundance of game, so we've established a "Hunter Hotline" allowing hunters to get ahold of us after hours so that we can get their game into the cooler.  We've already processed 6 elk, and hunting season has barely begun.

In anticipation of our busy season, we made a huge order to the butcher supply that we use.  Butcher paper and hand-wrap plastic arrived by the pallet load, along with roast netting, knives, and aprons.  "Not for Resale" tape and polyester freezer labels are stacked deep and we have 72 milk crates due to be delivered this week.  We are ramping up for what promises to be a busy year.

We have learned so much in the past 10 months.  We've refined our systems and tuned our methods.  We've learned what works and what doesn't.  We've learned our plant's strengths and its weaknesses.  An unexpected weakness that we found was our rail system that comes through the door onto our cutting room floor.  We purchased a rail system that had been removed from a university's Meat Sciences department.  It was designed and built by the same university's engineering department and had served the university well for years.  We have used it for 10 months with no problems, until.....a huge beef, weighing 800 pounds a HALF came through our doors.  Apparently 1600 pounds of beef flesh was just too much for our 3/8" flat bar - it crumpled under the pressure!  We had to do some fancy footwork to get the beef in the door and then we had to remove the bent flat bar and replace it with 1/2 flat bar!

The bent rail

Butchering the huge steer!
The phone is ringing off the hook and we are putting animals in little white packages just as quickly as we can.  We truly have been blessed beyond measure in this business of butchering!


  1. Wow.... Your business is taking off! I'm happy for all of you.

    I often wonder, how many government guidance councilors ask their students, 'Have you considered being a butcher?' What an awesome trade.

    Montana Guy

  2. So very please to hear your business is booming! You are blessed. Thank you for writing again. I've so enjoyed your families adventures.

  3. In my area (KY) the slaughterhouses are not allowed to process domestic animals and wild game on the same equipment without special cleaning and disinfecting in between. It's such a no-no that several places simply quit killing beef/hogs for the months of November and December and turn their attentions to the large numbers of whitetail deer being brought in by hunters for processing. You said you're processing wild game as well as domestic animals...are the regulations different there, or do you simply do a lot of heavy disinfecting, or use different equipment? Just curious! Glad to hear everything is going so well for your family!

  4. The trials of a small business owner... I'm glad you are doing well and able to post again; I've missed hearing your stories and thoughts.
    As an engineer, I'm surprised that setup worked as well as it did for you - I would have expected a T or I beam to be needed.

  5. I am so very glad that you are posting again. I had missed your family. Great to hear that the business is doing well, continued good luck!

  6. Very glad to hear it is going well at this, the end of your first year! When my son and I opened our little store in our small town, it took a full 3 years of me 'subsidizing' it a bit with my city job, and a whole lot of learning about our market, before it turned the corner and began truly making a small profit. It takes a lot of tenacity, and I admire that you guys are sticking it out and hanging in there. There is SO MUCH to learn when beginning a small retail business -wish it was easier to gain some of this knowledge before opening the doors! But every market is different.. Happy Hunting Season!

  7. Hope you had a blessed Christmas and your new year is off to a great start. I do miss your presence here! Natokadn

  8. Great job on the butchering business! Such hard work, but with hard work brings progress and it looks like you guys are making it! Best of luck to you in 2019.

  9. I understand you're busy with your business, or other issues, but please, if you are giving up your blog tell us. You don't have to say why. I can see keeping it up at there are many references for us to use. But if I know there won't be anything current, I won't check back here every morning!

    1. Might I suggest following by email instead (there’s a spot to sign up at the top). It’s such a delightful surprise to see it show up in my inbox).

  10. That is a big boy! So glad your business is going well! (And wish you lived near me!)