Butchering issues

Fluffy_Flock

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we had to make a choice with our very difficult ewe and we decided to cull her and put her in the freezer. Mind you this was our first time butchering at home. The process went well (ish) and we managed to get her gigantic ass in the fridge to cool down. Well here is the problem. Our fridge normally gets down so cold everything halfway freezes but its been hanging out at 41-43° and won't drop lower! At first I figured it was because she is over 100lbs dressed out and it would take a hot minute to get her cold. Took about 12 hours to get the meat to 41° and my lovely husband decided it would be good to mess with the temperature settings a few hours ago to try to get it colder and now its at 54 in the fridge and meat is sitting at 42 internal temp.

She has been in the fridge for 26 hours at this point. I can't move her by myself to part her out and put her in the freezer and won't have help to move her until at least tomorrow night. Is the meat going to be trash by that point? I know 40 and below seems to be the magic number for safety so I just don't know how quickly it will spoil above that point. Ugh.
 

Beekissed

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we had to make a choice with our very difficult ewe and we decided to cull her and put her in the freezer. Mind you this was our first time butchering at home. The process went well (ish) and we managed to get her gigantic ass in the fridge to cool down. Well here is the problem. Our fridge normally gets down so cold everything halfway freezes but its been hanging out at 41-43° and won't drop lower! At first I figured it was because she is over 100lbs dressed out and it would take a hot minute to get her cold. Took about 12 hours to get the meat to 41° and my lovely husband decided it would be good to mess with the temperature settings a few hours ago to try to get it colder and now its at 54 in the fridge and meat is sitting at 42 internal temp.

She has been in the fridge for 26 hours at this point. I can't move her by myself to part her out and put her in the freezer and won't have help to move her until at least tomorrow night. Is the meat going to be trash by that point? I know 40 and below seems to be the magic number for safety so I just don't know how quickly it will spoil above that point. Ugh.
Not sure what you are saying...is the whole sheep in your fridge? Not cut into quarters or anything? How in the world did you get that big of a carcass in a fridge without breaking it down?

Definitely not ideal for the meat to be at those temps for that long. Usually if one is going to age some meat, it should be around much cooler than 54...the 41* would have been closer to the aging temps of 35*, at least. Is the fridge broken? After 26 hrs that carcass should have definitely cooled down enough to not be bringing fridge temps down.

Could be you'll have some meat with an off flavor. Next time I'd quarter it before putting it in the fridge, as those quarters are much easier to cool down and to handle with further processing. I hope it turns out alright for you, all the same.
 

Fluffy_Flock

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Not sure what you are saying...is the whole sheep in your fridge? Not cut into quarters or anything? How in the world did you get that big of a carcass in a fridge without breaking it down?

Definitely not ideal for the meat to be at those temps for that long. Usually if one is going to age some meat, it should be around much cooler than 54...the 41* would have been closer to the aging temps of 35*, at least. Is the fridge broken? After 26 hrs that carcass should have definitely cooled down enough to not be bringing fridge temps down.

Could be you'll have some meat with an off flavor. Next time I'd quarter it before putting it in the fridge, as those quarters are much easier to cool down and to handle with further processing. I hope it turns out alright for you, all the same.
We put an eye bolt through the top to hang the whole thing from. No shelf or drawers left in it. Last time we used the fridge it cooled very well but we haven't used it in about two months so not sure. I have a double probe thermometer in there. The meat is still reading as 41° (middle of rear leg up top the fridge) but ambient air temp at the very top of the airspace in the fridge is reading currently at 50°. I'm sure its a bit lower further down in the fridge but I don't have any other info to go off of and I don't want to open it again to check and lose all the cool air.
 

Baymule

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We quarter a carcass, put it in ice chests and cover with ice. Hanging a carcass sounds nice, but this the south and I gotta be real. Do you have an ice chest, can you borrow several, is there anybody that can help, neighbor, friend, anybody?

If you can gather up ice chests and ice, sharpen up your knives, get your bone saw, hack saw and a cleaver. I have a cleaver that I beat the back of it with a hammer to cut through the aitch bone at the anus so I can separate the hindquarters.

Set up a table next to the refrigerator. If you think you can’t get the carcass to the table, go buy a new shower curtain and lay it on the floor. Cut the carcass loose and lay it on the shower curtain. First cut off hind quarters and pack on ice. This may make it light enough to get it on the table, if not, cut off shoulders, pack on ice. Keep going until you have it all iced down. This will work, you can do this.
 

frustratedearthmother

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A Sawzall is your friend when butchering! I'm getting better at finding the right place to remove the lower leg bones - but if I'm in a hurry - grab the Sawzall. We also use it for removing the ribs. I'm not patient enough to use a cleaver or a hack saw!

@Baymule is absolutely spot on suggesting the ice chest. I butchered a small-ish pig a couple weeks ago and it spent a few days hanging out in the ice chest. Cooked a bit the day I was processing it into packages and it was absolutely delish!
 

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And you really don't even need to cut through bone to quarter that sheep.....you can separate those quarters at the joint, which is as easy as cutting through butter, no need to be cutting through bone at all. If you don't require fancy cuts you can strip that back strap and loin off the spine, remove the legs at the topmost joint, strip the meat off the bones and grind it all but the backstrap and loin.

My 85 yr old mama can strip a carcass bigger than that by just quartering at the joints and stripping the spine. And has done so all these many years, so it's not just theory. If you have a hanging carcass, it's all easy from there.
 

Fluffy_Flock

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Ok guys. Got her done today. My poor husband just about passed out when we took the whole thing and put it on the kitchen island to cut it up. Poor guy doesn't have the stomach for these kind of things. I really should have put the probe a bit further down in the fridge. The meat and fridge were much colder than it was reading. The air probe was laying against the top surface of the fridge causing the big shifts in temperature readings.

Anyway. Definitely found some things i need to improve on next time. We weren't quick enough to get her bled out properly so the front half of her was still very full of blood giving it a very gamey smell. Not rotten (it was partially frozen down at that section) just super gamey and not very appealing. I deboned the neck which smelled fine but the shoulders were too harsh smelling so they are most likely going to the dogs. We will see. Got a ton of great meat from her and didn't use a saw of any kind. Kinda proud tbh.

Next time hopefully it will be a much smaller animal lol that was A LOT to deal with alone.

Thanks for all your help guys! Yall are wonderful! ❤❤❤
 
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