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Archive for November 3rd, 2012

Jackie Clay

Q and A: butchering sheep, garlic sprouting too early, and not using a pressure canner

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

Butchering a sheep

My family was recently given a sheep to butcher. It was a show lamb with a bum leg. In the course of researching (we have done chickens and cows but never sheep) I was told by a fellow homesteader that I had to be careful handling the carcass and bury the head, offal, and hide. I usually feed the offal to the pigs. She said it was poisonous. I am very doubtful since we can use the intestines for casings. Have you ever heard of such a rule and why?

Malisa Niles
Woonsocket, South Dakota

I think your friend was thinking about the possibility of scrapie in sheep and goats. But if your lamb was healthy other than the bum leg, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. To be safest, I’d probably not feed the offal to your pigs. There is quite a debate on just how the disease is spread. Some say it’s passed from dam to offspring via amniotic fluids; others say it can be passed from one animal to another. Yet another theory is that eating from a contaminated carcass can pass it on to other animals. This is all irrelevant if your lamb was (and probably was) healthy. — Jackie

Garlic sprouting too early

The garlic I planted on October 6 is already six inches tall, and it’s only October 28. Normal northern garlic planting dictates plant in October, look for sprouts in April. Will the crop survive the winter having already sprouted, or should I pull and replant? I’ve never seen this happen before.

Kristina Dickinson
Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts
Your garlic should survive fine, as is. Although not “normal” in some areas, it is in others. My fall planted garlic often sends up leaves before freezing and then goes on to make nice bulbs the next year. — Jackie

Not using a pressure canner

I have a friend who is scared of using a pressure canner so she will can meat, veggies, etc. using her hot water bath. She says that all you have to do is instead of pressure cooking the item 30 minutes or so she will cook it in the bath for 3 to 4 or 5 hrs. It told her I did not think that was safe but she said that she has not gotten sick off of the canned goods yet. Is what she is doing possible, just keep the items in the hot water bath longer?

Nancy Smyer
Lufkin, Texas

Is it possible? Yes. Most of our grandmothers canned meat and vegetables that way. Is it SAFE? NO! If you care about food safety, please don’t even consider canning low acid foods such as vegetables and meat in a water bath canner. There are a lot of things in life we are “afraid” of. We just need to overcome unfounded fears and learn new valuable — and safe — skills. — Jackie


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