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Author Topic: Need help with dead meat  (Read 6478 times)

Offline asabo

Need help with dead meat
« on: April 03, 2015, 10:53:57 PM »
My post-apocalyptic story has a dead cow in it. I am a vegetarian. I am looking for someone to give me some very specific information.

Here's the scenario. A milk cow was shot by bandits. The owner of the cow gifted it to another settlement. That settlement will now butcher it. This isn't a gory scene, more of a comment on lost skills.

Here are my questions/worries:
How long before dead cow becomes rotten cow? I need a timeline - the other settlement isn't very close.

I read about blood sausages - if the cow is not freshly dead is the blood bad? I know dead people stop bleeding, so I assume dead cows will do the same. Would the meat bleed as the cow is butchered? Should/could that blood be collected?

They will want to use everything - hide, intestines, whatever - anything unusual I should/could mention?

Thanks in advance for any help!
Lethal Seasons - Apocalyptic Science Fiction (no zombies)
http://allthereisandtherestofit.blogspot.com/p/lethal-seasons.html

Offline Elfy

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Re: Need help with dead meat
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2015, 12:29:43 AM »
Can't help with how long you can store a cow without refrigeration before it goes off, but I can give a little advice on blood sausages, or black pudding as they call it in England. It's not generally made out of cows blood, but usually pigs.

Offline Conan

Re: Need help with dead meat
« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2015, 01:02:09 AM »
If they are going to use everything, then they would have to have a system already in place.

They would need access to clean water and very sharp knives and possibly an ax or a bone saw.

Much depends on temperature. If the internal organs have been stewing for a couple days, those would need to be removed first and discarded.  The tongue and eyes would probably need to be thrown also.

You could possibly boil the heart in salt and herbs, but I would ditch the liver.

They will need to string the animal up by the neck to get it off the ground and away from dirt. If the animal is in the 400 lb range, then a good hemp rope might work. One end will need a loop. Thread the rope through the loop and make a lasso, put it around the neck and then feed a new loop from the free end under the noose and loop it over the nose so that it can't come off.

If the animal is heavier, a ratchet come-a-long with a steel cable will be needed. It's possible the hide could still be saved, but they would need an adequate quantity of salt to cure the hide until it could be properly tanned. 

Best bet scenario--peel the hide and strip the carcass of the back straps. Then quarter the animal and hang it in a smoke house for a week. If it still smells gamy, they should still be able to digest the meet without getting sick if a huge amount of pepper is added. Of course, the smoked meat could also be stewed or roasted or whatever is most convenient. 

It is a labor intensive job and very exhausting. You would need a table for sure and if it is cold out you would need a way to keep your fingers from freezing.

Add some post-apocalyptic potatoes and toxic beer and you've got yourself a party.

c
Tied up and twisted; gnarled and knotted with wrinkles; haggardly firm and unyielding; his eyes glowing like coals, that still glow in the ashes of ruin; untottering Ahab stood forth in the clearness of the morn; lifting his splintered helmet of a brow to the fair girl's forehead of heaven.

Offline asabo

Re: Need help with dead meat
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2015, 05:06:19 AM »
Thanks Conan, you sound very knowledgeable. My world still has power, so there are lights and water and refrigeration. (The problem is a major lack of people) My concern was that it might take a day or two to transport the animal. But it sounds like a few days dead isn't a problem?

I didn't want to say the meat was x days old and they had a lovely stew then get called on it because other people would know that the meat would be spoiled.

They will probably smoke and salt and can the meat only freezing some of it. I think there's a shelf life on freezing meat.

Thanks Elfy, I may rethink the sausages.
Lethal Seasons - Apocalyptic Science Fiction (no zombies)
http://allthereisandtherestofit.blogspot.com/p/lethal-seasons.html

Offline Conan

Re: Need help with dead meat
« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2015, 05:50:27 AM »
I would say a few days is pushing it, unless it is freezing outside.

Cattle are extremely heavy. If the thing is stiff, that would add to the complexity of moving it.

Perhaps dog food is the better option.


Tied up and twisted; gnarled and knotted with wrinkles; haggardly firm and unyielding; his eyes glowing like coals, that still glow in the ashes of ruin; untottering Ahab stood forth in the clearness of the morn; lifting his splintered helmet of a brow to the fair girl's forehead of heaven.

Offline Lady Ty

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Re: Need help with dead meat
« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2015, 10:28:48 AM »
I would say a few days is pushing it, unless it is freezing outside.

Cattle are extremely heavy. If the thing is stiff, that would add to the complexity of moving it.

Perhaps dog food is the better option.

Agree, a few days is pushing it, and you really ought to get the guts out pretty fast after death or they will taint the whole. If it's been shot and there is blood you'll have flies and maggots spreading all through fast.

"A female blowfly lays up to 300 eggs at one time, and with numerous females visiting a corpse, the number of maggots can be immense. For example, 48,562 maggots were found on a 156 g piece of meat after 24 hours exposure. However, because this was insufficient food to sustain them, only 231 flies finally emerged"

Think you'd better be in freezing temps :(
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Offline JMack

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Re: Need help with dead meat
« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2015, 11:34:53 AM »
Watch the movie "Into the Wild" if you haven't already.
Besides being a really strong, fascinating movie (with a great soundtrack by Eddie Vetter),
it has a great scene about dealing with dead meat.
It won't add much factually to what knowledgable folks here have described,
but you'll get an emotional and physical sense from the performances and plot.
Change, when it comes, will step lightly before it kicks like thunder. (GRMatthews)
You are being naive if you think that any sweet and light theme cannot be strangled and force fed it's own flesh. (Nora)
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Offline asabo

Re: Need help with dead meat
« Reply #7 on: April 04, 2015, 05:43:05 PM »
Thank you all for your comments this has been really helpful. Considering it all, I think the waste of that much possible food might be a much more important point for the story then figuring out the butchering and such.

I realize that a full grown dairy cow is huge and extremely heavy. Moving it probably takes more planning than this scene ultimately needs. It's more of a point of reckless greed - bandits killing a milk cow - and having the meat go to waste makes it a much harsher point.

I think you all have convinced me to go in a different direction. I really appreciate the dose of reality!
Lethal Seasons - Apocalyptic Science Fiction (no zombies)
http://allthereisandtherestofit.blogspot.com/p/lethal-seasons.html

Offline Rostum

Re: Need help with dead meat
« Reply #8 on: April 04, 2015, 07:16:27 PM »
I have never butchered a cow so I asked a colleague who used to be a slaughter man for some pointers. By choice you transport your cow to where you want to kill it as they are very heavy, up to 1500lbs for dairy cattle and 1800lbs for a bull. Not possible in this case. As with any animal you want to raise it up by the back legs to Grollick it. You cut the throat to bleed it out and slot from the throat to the anus to remove the internal organs stomachs and what have you. The blood and all organs can be used as can the skin, tallow, hooves, tendons, brains and bones. A quarter to a third of the animals weight will not be meat.
Raising up a cow becomes a lot easier with a crane, off road forklift, JCB or tractor and chain.
Getting the blood out of any beastie quickly is imperative in preserving the meat. The organs will rot quicker than the meat but blood is key. Get that out as soon as possible or you lose the lot.
Next you skin and scrape the layer of tallow from the meat, both useful.
If the unmaking is outdoors one possible idea would be to remove the lungs, heart and least useful offal and use that to keep the flies off the carcass. You would move this a hundred feet away to an undisturbed area and let the flies feast, This will not be wholly effective, but will help and is often done by hunters in hot countries to prevent meat getting flyblown as they are breaking down a kill.

Chainsaws used to be used to quarter a beef carcass up to the CJD scare when new regulations meant the spine had to be left intact. No more power tools used, a cleaver is used to cut away both sides of the spine and to cut the halves to quarters. You are messing with a 500lb slab of meat here hanging from 15 foot to the ground, you need a means of working from the top to the bottom and need to be sure the back leg is not going to break free and crush you under a lot of beef and bone.

At this point the quarters would be frozen or refrigerated for 50+ days if this was a commercial process. I have not eaten beef off the cow as it were but hanging improves flavour and tenderizes the meat which off a dairy animal won't be great to start with.

On a 15th centuary site I once had to show 4 vegans how to unmake a deer. They were happy to do everything required in taking it apart, just were not prepared to eat it.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2015, 07:20:23 PM by Rostum »

Offline JMack

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Re: Need help with dead meat
« Reply #9 on: April 04, 2015, 07:23:48 PM »
Thank you all for your comments this has been really helpful. Considering it all, I think the waste of that much possible food might be a much more important point for the story then figuring out the butchering and such.

I realize that a full grown dairy cow is huge and extremely heavy. Moving it probably takes more planning than this scene ultimately needs. It's more of a point of reckless greed - bandits killing a milk cow - and having the meat go to waste makes it a much harsher point.

I think you all have convinced me to go in a different direction. I really appreciate the dose of reality!
This is exactly the problem in Into the Wild. Seriously, go watch it if you can.  :)
Change, when it comes, will step lightly before it kicks like thunder. (GRMatthews)
You are being naive if you think that any sweet and light theme cannot be strangled and force fed it's own flesh. (Nora)
www.starlit-lands.com

Offline Rostum

Re: Need help with dead meat
« Reply #10 on: April 04, 2015, 07:39:48 PM »
Just an aside disposal of what cant be used is going to require digging a really deep hole to keep things sanitary.
Bury a 100lbs of offal in a shallow grave and the area will be thick with flies and foxes and the like will dig it up again.

Offline asabo

Re: Need help with dead meat
« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2015, 11:01:19 PM »
Rostum - thanks so much for the detail. That was exactly what I was looking for. Although I might not use it for this book, it will definitely surface somewhere. And the problems of disposing of the dead cow might be much more what that scene needs.

I knew I could count on you guys to give me good information.

Thanks again to all of you.
Lethal Seasons - Apocalyptic Science Fiction (no zombies)
http://allthereisandtherestofit.blogspot.com/p/lethal-seasons.html

Offline Elfy

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Re: Need help with dead meat
« Reply #12 on: April 05, 2015, 12:17:21 AM »
Given how large a cow actually is, they may be better off cutting off a leg and transporting that, and hiding the rest of the body somehow. Then coming back later and cutting it into component parts.
I will expand your TBR pile.

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Offline asabo

Re: Need help with dead meat
« Reply #13 on: April 05, 2015, 04:10:44 PM »
That's a thought, Elfy. However, the cow was killed during a firefight with bandits. I have yet to decide how long that battle lasts. I might make it unsafe to approach the cow until it is too late for either side to benefit.

One of the issues in my world is food. I have government issued food, that people rely upon, that has suddenly stopped coming. That makes any self-sufficient settlements crucial. There's a migration of people who did not plan for the future to those that did putting tremendous stress on those successful settlements. This loss of food at this crux point is probably more poignant and frustrating.

The scene is actually at the sister settlement, so the fight will be described second hand.
Lethal Seasons - Apocalyptic Science Fiction (no zombies)
http://allthereisandtherestofit.blogspot.com/p/lethal-seasons.html

Offline Elfy

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Re: Need help with dead meat
« Reply #14 on: April 06, 2015, 12:01:48 AM »
That's a thought, Elfy. However, the cow was killed during a firefight with bandits. I have yet to decide how long that battle lasts. I might make it unsafe to approach the cow until it is too late for either side to benefit.

One of the issues in my world is food. I have government issued food, that people rely upon, that has suddenly stopped coming. That makes any self-sufficient settlements crucial. There's a migration of people who did not plan for the future to those that did putting tremendous stress on those successful settlements. This loss of food at this crux point is probably more poignant and frustrating.

The scene is actually at the sister settlement, so the fight will be described second hand.
If you haven't already watched it, I'd suggest having a look at how they get by in The Walking Dead, that's as much about survival in a dystopian world as it is about killing zombies. They kill what they can (usually squirrels or rabbits, but they get the occasional deer and they did farm pigs for a while), they also find roots and berries, and of course they raid abandoned stores for non perishable food.
I will expand your TBR pile.

http://purpledovehouse.blogspot.com