So, you’re dying to know how the roadkill deer butchering went? Or maybe you’re slightly nauseated like my friend Steph who came by Saturday, and politely declined when Dan offered up a blood-spangled leg bone for her dogs.
I so respect the vegetarians who commented on my previous post, or even the ambivalent carnivores for whom roadkill will never be a part of their culinary lexicon. I totally understand. If it weren’t for Dan taking on hunting, or knowing what to do with the roadkill that gets deposited at our doorstep like a plate of cookies, I’d probably be an ambivalent carnivore too, quibbling with my conscience over the lifeless cuts of meat at our local butcher.
But, I must say, my conscience was bowled over by the pure gustatory pleasure of the grilled deer backstrap we ate for lunch. The backstraps are found on either side of the spine and due to their passive role in locomoting an animal, are as tender as butter beans. Or as Dan kept saying all weekend: spoon meat.
The kids went feral over the grilled meat. Rose begged for more while her mouth was still stuffed with partially-chewed brown threads and Col sang “the deer is here! The deer is here!”
We had various cuts marinating in the fridge all weekend, and rather than bother with lots of packaging work, we just kept drawing from the fridge as I imagined a 19th century prairie family would have from their salted ham hocks hanging in the cellar. Or like a wolf family on an elk kill.
The butchering was fit in around the edges of family life and the kids were neither particularly interested in nor offended by the ruby red hind legs they shuttled in the house for me to whittle at. While I worked those gorgeous hind legs, Rose was embroiled, yet again, in squabbles with a friend over play food. Meanwhile, Col was twanging my nerdy heartstrings by studying his rock collection, musing “this one looks like fossil. I think it’s a fossil of a dandelion!”
Col hit the five year old-boy-jackpot last week when he found a cadre of cool rocks deposited outside the gem and mineral club. It’s funny to watch your child’s passions bloom brilliantly and then wither like a morning glory bloom at sunset. Just last year Col was besotted with trains. I have this picture in my mind of him at 4 years, earnestly hefting this 400-page, coffee table-style, train book down our library stairs. And then just a few months ago, like an ambassador of goodwill, Col offered his set of train tracks to our 2 ½ year old friend Emmett, who is at the height of his own train-mania.
The deer ribcage, a bone-white barrel painted slippery red with clinging flesh, went into the chicken coop for a few hours, before being returned with the rest of the meat scraps to the woods. As I’ve mentioned before, chickens are not vegetarians. If given the chance to free-range, they will hunt down insects, and boy were they glad to be included in the deer-a-palooza. That carcass must seem to them now like some beautiful dream, although when Dan schlepped it out, they milled around him in that slightly confused, chicken-y way, as if shrugging “easy come, easy go.”
The rest of the weekend was spent outdoors in an devotional interpretive dance to spring warmth. “Warm” is a relative term and Rose may be able to sneak outside in a red velvet dress, but snow boots are still regulation issue.
As the snow melts our yard suddenly seems colossally huge. On Sunday we were all out in the yard, doing our own thing, except Rose who was thankfully, napping (allowing the rest of us to do our own thing).
Here’s Dan pruning our small fruit orchard.
And industrious Col, creating work for himself by shuttling snow to drier spots.
I planted peas, dug weeds, returned the soil to the garden beds that the chickens had kicked out, turned compost and just wandered around jacket-less and happily dazed.
Sunday night we had dear friends over for dinner, all of whom are part of the roadkill tribe.
(except sweet Iris, 3, who is part of the cheddar bunny tribe).
All in all, a perfect March weekend.