The next morning, with the deer still in our hatchback and still dead, it was my turn to ante up. I drove to a butcher shop out in the countryside and parked outside the main building. Resolute and strong, I approached the counter. I really did know these country ways, after all!
After ascertaining the legality of the kill, the man behind the counter said, “So how would you like it cut?”
Ummm. How would I like it cut? “Well, I’d like it mostly ground in one-pound packages,” I said tentatively.
“You want the hams butterflied?” He said. “’Course, it’s up to you.”
Butterflied hams? Was that like bacon with wings or something? Busted! Seconds passed, and I knew I had to ‘fess up.
“Okay, I said humbly, “I really don’t know what I’m doing. It that’s what most people get, then that’s what I want─butterflied hams and the rest ground.” He kindly kept his thoughts to himself and wrote up the order.
“And, oh,” I added, “the hunter wants you to save the head.” He nodded his acknowledgement without flinching.
Mission accomplished! All that remained of my new adventure in rural living was picking up the meat in a couple days. When I returned, I received neatly wrapped and labeled packages of meat, flash-frozen and ready for my freezer. As I wrote the check, I mentally calculated how much I was paying per pound. Not bad, I thought─and for such healthy, low-fat meat, too. I turned to leave and the man said, “The head is out in the shed.”
Oh yeah. The head. Gross.
“Look, would you mind putting it in a trash bag and taking it out to my car for me?” I asked, hoping my pitiful glance would soften his heat. It worked. I didn’t have to look at the disembodied head, which I delivered forthwith to the hunter.
These rural life things take time. Now I’m trained and ready for that kind of thing.
The venison was fantastic. For months, my family never knew whether I was serving round venison, ground beef, ground turkey , or any combination thereof. We played “guess what meat this is” around the dinner table. The butterflied ham steaks were delectable─a culinary delight.
This event took place many years ago, and this former city girl has made the central Shenandoah Valley her home for over 25 years now. I don’t miss suburban living one tiny bit. In my book, living here beats suburban living by a coon’s age, whatever that is.
So if you know any hunters with freezer space for meat, just tell them to give me a holler. I’ll be right over.
Copyright 2016 by Barbara Finnegan – Used with permission.