Friday, October 16, 2009

The risks of believing that the Mayan calendar ends December 21, 2012!

A discussion forum for this article exists at

About eight years ago John Major Jenkins and I had a debate about the meaning of the Mayan calendar end date focusing especially on whether the energies of the Long Count ends on October 28, 2011 or December 21, 2012. This still remains the most important question anybody interested in the “2012 phenomenon” is faced with, but while at the time the debate might have seemed theoretical, or even hairsplitting, it is now a question that has very significant and practical consequences as to how we relate to the future. While many would like to sweep the end date question under the rug or sit on the fence, no one can do so with their intellectual integrity intact. Since that debate Jenkins has appeared on a History Channel documentary where December 21 2012 is presented as a predetermined “doomsday” when the world is going to come to an end. I get quite a few letters, sometimes from young people that worry that the world will come to an end at this date since they have seen this documentary posted on YouTube. While most knowledgeable people would probably reject this way of presenting the Mayan calendar it is still important to ask the question who benefits from it. I feel there are indeed many people, also apart from the participants in such documentaries that benefit from the claim that the Mayan calendar ends December 21, 2012. Thus, I do not think that it is an accident that we do not hear of the October 28, 2011 date in public media. To begin with, as far as I know no one who adheres to the end date of October 28, 2011 has ever presented this as a predetermined doomsday and thus unduly associated the Mayan calendar with fear.

Since the abovementioned debate two different intellectual cultures have emerged around the two possible end dates, one based on belief (December 21, 2012) and one based on evidence (October 28, 2011). These two cultures are about as different from one another as any one of them is from that using the Gregorian calendar. The proposal of the December 21, 2012 date is based on the unproven belief that the precessional cycle actually means something for human evolution, and, amazingly, as far as I know no one advocating this end date seems to have even bothered to try to prove this basic assumption. In contrast, the October 28, 2011 date is based on massive scientific evidence that the Nine Underworlds and Thirteen Heavens known from ancient Mayan sources indeed describe cosmic evolution in all of its aspects. Moreover, while there is extensive evidence that the Maya based prophecy and prediction on shifts between baktuns, katuns, tuns etc, not a single ancient Mayan text mentions the 26,000 year precessional cycle. Since those advocating the December 21, 2012 end date do not identify shift points in the Mayan calendar leading up to their end date their hypothesis is however not testable from the predictions made, which is the hallmark of any serious scientific theory. Hence, it must be qualified as belief rather than science. Based on nothing more than belief a culture has subsequently emerged around the December 21, 2012 date, since it serves as an ideal projection screen for fantasies, fears and hopes rather than something that can be proven and understood scientifically based on the patterns of the Mayan calendar.

The October 28, 2011 end date can however be rationally understood. It has also been verified by several predictions, most recently my own that an economic collapse would set in and when it would do so: Regardless of what forms such a [financial] collapse may take it seems that the best bet is for it to occur close to the time that the Fifth NIGHT begins, in November 2007 [strictly speaking the 19th] (The Mayan Calendar and the Transformation of Consciousness, page 233). In accordance with this prediction economists now agree that it began in December of 2007, see Figure 1). This prediction was actually formulated already in my first book in English, Solving the Greatest Mystery of Our Time: The Mayan Calendar written in 1999 and published in 2001 (page 187). This is really a direct parallel to Edgar Cayce’s famous prediction of the time for the New York stock exchange crash, in this case however made about ten years in advance, and so was made much earlier than any professional economist even considered such an economic meltdown. I however do not claim to have some unusual psychic abilities, and instead this prediction attests to the fact that with the right end date, October 28, 2011 the mystery of the Mayan calendar has been exactly solved. That these predictions were accurate can be verified by anyone, who cares to examine the relevant pages in my books. In contrast no one who claimed that the end date of the Mayan calendar is December 21, 2012 made any similar prediction and can mostly not credit themselves with having made one single accurate prediction based on the Mayan calendar. Already this should be a red flag for anyone looking for a way to understand the evolution of civilization based on the Mayan calendar.

Before going into the more practical consequences of adhering to the evidence-based or a belief-based interpretation of the Mayan calendar I however think that it is necessary to discuss the nature of time and what it is that makes the Mayan calendar special. It is in other words important to know whether we have any reason to concern ourselves with the Mayan calendar in the first place. Why is it that unlike all other calendars the Mayan calendar has an end date? The answer to this is that the Mayan calendar expresses an entirely different kind of time than other calendars. Most calendars, such as the Gregorian, Muslim, Buddhist or Jewish calendars, are based on astronomical cycles and reflect continuous time. They describe measurable mechanic time, the aspect of time that the Greek would call Chronos, which is also the only one that is recognized in the modern world. Since astronomical cycles, whether they are cycles of the moon, the earth or the precessional cycle, will continue over the next billions of years or so there is however no reason that calendars based on them should ever come to an end. Since the Mayan calendar however has an end date this must obviously be based on another type of time than mechanical time and its end date must be discussed against the background of consciousness-based time – what the Greek would call Kairos and so we must ask what could be the origin of this.

If we go back to ancient sources to find out information about the origin of the Mayan Long Count they never say that this would be based on any astronomical cycle*. Instead, the Mayan sources, for instance at the Temple of the Inscriptions in Palenque, explicitly say that the Long Count is based on the World Tree or what other cultures usually refer to as the Tree of Life. As I will be describing in my forthcoming book The Purposeful Universe (Inner Traditions, December 2009) Mayan time is in fact quantized and describes different quantum states of the Cosmic Tree of Life. It is always against the background of such quantum shifts in time, and not continuously flowing astronomical cycles, we may understanding the defining moments of our lives, but also of human civilizations. The Cosmic Tree of Life at the center of our universe behind these quantum shifts was discovered by modern science only in 2003. Yet, the fact that it is real, and not a mere symbol or myth, calls for a revolution in how we view our whole existence. It affects not only science, but also how we understand religious prophecies, which often include references to the Tree of Life. Hence, for instance the Book of Revelation refers to this and it seems to be returning to our awareness in the nick of time. Since the Mayan calendar originates in the Tree of Life not only every day, but also every katun, baktun, pictun etc is associated with a symbol, such as a day-sign and a number, symbolic of its different quantum states. These states are then creating the geological and historical eras of cosmic evolution, which the Maya would refer to as ages. Many people are expecting a quantum shift as the Mayan calendar comes to an end – and rightly so – but a continuous astronomical cycle by definition never gives rise to quantum shifts. The reason the Mayan calendar is able to explain so many quantum jumps in the fossil record and paradigm shifts in the history of mankind (which is far from slow and continuous) is the very fact that unlike other calendars it is quantized.

The understanding of Mayan time as quantized also provides a meaningful way of looking at the so-called end date where it is not even potentially a preset end of the world. (This is why no one embracing the October 28, 2011 date has fallen to claim that it is a preset end of the world). The end date simply reflects the point in time when the Cosmic Tree of Life attains its highest quantum state. This also implies that it is not the beginning of a new cycle and it is only on this basis that it is rationally understandable that this state would serve to create a millennium of peace in the “New Jerusalem” as the new world is called in the Book of Revelation. To instead use a Hindu metaphor it becomes logical that the attainment of this highest state means liberation from the wheels (cycles) of Karma. As the student of the evidence-based Mayan calendar will know almost all conflicts and warfare in the history of mankind actually originate in quantum shifts between cosmic energies and only as those come to an end is there any serious reason to hope for the emergence of a world in harmony. Hence, in this interpretation of the Mayan calendar there is absolutely no reason to think that the end date means the end of life or a “doomsday” when the world is predetermined to come to an end.

What the end date does mean however is that on October 28, 2011 the shifts between energies will come to an end and it is thus no wonder that many intuitively sense that the year that follow upon this, 2012, is very special. The processes that have been driving cosmic evolution until now will no longer be operating and after some time for things to settle the human beings will be left to create evolution themselves. What this means is in my view that the end date is not just another shift. Instead it constitutes the end of the shifts that have been caused by alternations in the quantum states of the Tree of Life up until that point, exemplified by the abovementioned quantum shift that led to the decline of the economy as the fifth night began. Such a vision of a new Garden of Eden (albeit on a higher level) obviously lacks any rational basis among those advocating that we look upon the Mayan calendar as based on mechanical astronomical cycles, where a new cycle will then begin. To understand the liberation of mankind and a future return to the Garden of Eden however simply mandates quantized time. This illustrates an important principle, namely that even if the evidence-based Mayan calendar is not difficult to understand, it is not trivial. It is not something that you can thoughtlessly put in your old box of thinking. The Mayan calendar is fundamentally different from all other calendar and how and why that is is something that needs to be deeply honored and respected.

From this perspective, where we are approaching the end of cyclical changes and the highest quantum state of the universe, it is also logical that the economic meltdown that we are now in is not merely a “recession” or a “depression”, such as we know to have been precipitated in the past by nights in the calendar. The decline is instead the beginning of the end to the cycles of the economy. Yet, since we know from the study of the Mayan calendar that the time periods when the economy shrinks are the nights we can make some predictions as to how this end of the economic cycles is going to play out. The first pulse of bringing the growth economy down thus came with the fifth night and led to a rapid decrease in growth, a fall in stock values, and increases of lay-offs and foreclosures. We are currently in a period in between such nights, the sixth day (see Figure 2), when the same processes are continuing more slowly and may even temporarily be slightly reversed. Around the time that the Sixth night begins on November 8, 2009 we may however expect that the meltdown intensifies and the US dollar collapses and with it the established monetary system in the world. Many things may trigger such an event, but it is important to understand that whatever triggers it, and this may be some kind of political event, it is the energy of this night that will bring it about. This incidentally, is also why it is so important what will be made of the rebirth energy of the second half of the sixth day.

We can only imagine what such a collapse will mean, but I feel it is clear to everyone that the consequences for our every day lives will be very far-reaching. Because of the hardships many may come to lose faith in this Creation or think that we are being punished. I look upon it differently: The consciousness of the Galactic Underworld is already preplanned to set in a protective mechanism for the planet by first stopping the growth, which is what any cancer doctor would do before any healing could take place**. As the reader may now realize we have come to a point where the discussion of the end date of the Mayan calendar is a critical issue since how we relate to the future will directly depend on it. This is neither academic hairsplitting nor irresponsible New Age fantasies. Those that advocate the evidence-based Mayan end date of October 28, 2011 may in fact advice people to prepare themselves for this further economic meltdown beforehand in the sixth night. Those that talk about December 21, 2012 are however, consistently with their logic, likely to continue to make projections on this fantasy screen in the future. What these people in effect are saying to people is “Do not prepare yourself for the New World now! Wait until the shift comes December 21, 2012!” since they do not recognize any quantum shifts before this point in time. To know the exact end date is then a matter of paramount importance to people, because it is their only way of knowing what quantum shift they are experiencing in the present moment. While many people advocating the December 21, 2012 date are simply jumping on a bandwagon to create some visibility for themselves (and sell various products) I feel it is time that they consider what kind of responsibility this implies also for other people. It is probably not an accident that the first major Hollywood movie, surely planned to confuse people about the Mayan calendar and tout the December 21, 2012 date is scheduled to be released in November of 2009 as the sixth night begins. The ruling media will then use the December 21 2012 date to manipulate the truth and of course there are always some that are willing to play along. It is quite easy to see in whose interest it is that the Mayan calendar in this way is projected to a time in the future when all alignment with it will be too late.

As the established international monetary system collapses in the sixth night things can go essentially in either of two directions. It will go either in the direction of a grass roots organization of a new economy without banks, interests or growth serving to create a world without dominance. A collapse of the international monetary system, especially if it is linked to a moratorium of all debts, holds the potential of paving the way to a world that is truly egalitarian, based on willful cooperation and where greed will not destroy the world. This of course precludes the existence of a banking and monetary system organized in the interest of a minority and driven by the craving for abstract values rather than human needs.

I think however that it would be na├»ve to think that such an implementation of a New World according to the cosmic plan would happen without resistance. Some want to hold onto power over others. To many more the downfall of the established order of dominance would be shocking because it would ruin their experience of security in a world that they have become accustomed to. The bankers, governments, medias and ruling establishments world wide will then naturally seek to set up a new single global currency and remain in control, which they are very well prepared for. This especially the case if people are unaware of the evidence-based Mayan calendar and are able to see this difficult period as part of a process designed to lead to a new world. I am however convinced that the upcoming Universal Underworld will bring a new unity consciousness carrying a bliss of just being and love and compassion for all things just the way they are. Thus, things may not become “better” in the sense they were spoken of in the old economy, but life will be more enjoyable because of a new level of consciousness in which things are perceived in another way. Thus, in the years ahead we are in for a confusing mixture of seemingly conflicting developments. A critical aspect of preparation for this is the knowledge that the evidence-based Mayan calendar ends October 28, 2011, which at least gives people a benchmark for the rhythms with which things will evolve even though it will take a certain time for things to settle also after this.

The vision that is emerging for the time ahead is thus neither that “the world is going to an end,” nor that “we will all be happily flying” at a certain preset date in the future. Instead, we see a fairly complex scenario based on the best evidence that we have for an understanding of the future. It has much in common with the difficult birth scenario for the “New Jerusalem” as this is presented in the Book of Revelation. As this book points out this is however not a world for everyone and it is a scenario that almost certainly will require spiritual strength and integrity to endure. I do not want to add any religious overtones to this discussion, but it seems clear that everyone who is aspiring to enter this new world must sincerely seek the truth and avoid simplistic explanations.

Even if the Mayan calendar thus is universal and fundamentally connected to the Book of Revelation it is nonetheless important to know how the contemporary Maya see their end date. Naturally, some of them are happy that their calendar has received worldwide attention and may just believe what the archeologists have been telling them, which is December 21, 2012 (The actual Long Count upon which this date is based went out of use among the Maya a long time ago and so this date has been forwarded to them by modern archeologists). But more authoritative sources such as Don Alejandro Oxlaj of the Council of Elders are not just jumping on the bandwagon. As anyone who has seen the interview I made with him two years ago (available on DVD from Mayan Majix) he rejects the December 21, 2012 date as a miscalculation (Something that at the time was actually a surprise to me). He also carries the prophecy of the Thirteen Baktuns and 13 Ahau, consistent with the October 28, 2011 date (which is 13 Ahau). Unlike myself he however does not specify an end date, even though we do agree that the last katun shift (beginning of the last 7200 day prophetic period) took place in 1992. Around this katun shift at February 10, 1992 we can also very clearly see that major events, a quantum shift, shaping the whole world took place: The end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union (December 25, 1991), the institution of the European Union, (February 7, 1992) and the launching of the World Wide Web (August 1991). By the time of the katun shift advocated by the December 21, 2012 people (John Jenkins says April 1993 in the “Doomsday” documentary on History Channel) the new world was thus already established. Also in the future the people embracing this end date will thus always be in the backwater of what is really happening in the world. This demonstrates the utmost importance of the end date and that those who want to be consciously part of the coming quantum shifts ahead and surf on the waves of creation that these generate will miss that opportunity if they reject the evidence based Mayan calendar with its end date of October 28, 2011. If you ignore the evidence and listen to the December 21, 2012 “alignment”*** prophets this is likely to have very serious direct consequences for your own life and how you approach the future. With the acceleration of time in the Galactic Underworld the difference of 420 days between the two end dates is literally as big as that between day and night.

Carl Johan Calleman
Seattle, May 15, 2009 (1 Kan)

* No ancient Mayan text talks about the meaning of the end date of the Long Count. The beginning of the Long Count is however discussed in different places and a good source for this is Freidel, Schele and Parker, Maya Cosmos, pages 59-122, The Hearth and the Tree. A very good source for understanding how the political life of the ancient Maya was dominated by non-astronomical time cycles is Prudence Rice, Maya Political Science. Those interested in how their prophecies were based on non-astronomical cycles may study the katun-prophecies in the Books of Chilam Balam.

** Personally I do not believe that there is a God who intervenes in Creation to change its course (This would imply that creation would not be perfect to begin with). The way it works is that the Galactic Underworld favors the right brain half to the detriment of the left brain half that is mediating abstract values and it is thus that we now see a collapse of abstract values such as digits in bank computers and paper bills. In an interview with Larry King a few months ago Bill Clinton stated that a third of the wealth of the world had been wiped out in the past year. This is an excellent example of thinking in terms of abstract values. In reality no real value had been wiped out. What had been wiped out were a third of the figures in the bank computers. This collapse of abstract values has still far from bottomed out.

*** This so called alignment actually happened in 1998, but this is very rarely presented since it would be of no interest to the media now selling the “2012 phenomenon”.

Square Foot Gardening

Everyone that has food storage should have a garden to supplement it. For people that don’t have the acreage or live in cities a Square Foot Garden (SFG) is perfect. We need the nutrients and variety that can be provided with fresh fruits and vegetables. Think how nice it would be to have a tomato sandwich with lettuce or make a small batch of fresh salsa. Tomatoes, cilantro, salt and onions makes cornmeal go from cornbread to chips and salsa. The SFG web site has all the information you need to build and care for your garden.
I also recommend buying the books All New Square Foot Gardening as well as the original book Square Foot Gardening, for reference.

Why build a Square Foot Garden? A small 4’x4’ garden will provide a person with enough produce to have a salad every day of the growing season. It uses less water and space than a conventional garden is easy to protect and produces a high yield in a little space. If made with a base the garden can be portable.

A square foot garden consists of a 4 foot by 4 foot box that has a grid on the top to divide the garden into 16 squares. Each square holds a different crop. The grid is the most important part of the garden. It divides the box into “squares” each square is a foot wide. Hence the name Square Foot Garden. Don’t think crop in the sense of a large farm and a crop of onions that is sown in two acres of land. Our box produces mini crops. For example in each square you can plant 1 tomato plant, 4 lettuce plants or 16 carrots. The number of plants you put in each square depends on the recommended plant spacing. And you have 16 squares to fill.

A Square Foot Garden is easy to protect, easy to build and easy to maintain. First you build your box (from lumber, bricks, rock anything to hold the soil. On the SFG web site I saw a garden that was grown by a hero serving in Iraq, in a cardboard box. It wasn’t as pretty or as durable as a nice vinyl box, but it did the job. It produced food in the desert.

After the box is built, fill it with the perfect soil mix, called Mel’s mix, named after the inventor Mel Bartholomew. The soil mix is equal parts of coarse A-3 vermiculite, compost and peat moss. I have found it is easiest to mix [in batches of] three cubic feet of each ingredient. This gives you a little soil mix left over for other small containers or flower pots. When you begin with the perfect soil mix there are no weeds. If a weed does blow into your garden it is easy to identify and pull out. You may think buying prepackaged garden soil from the local hardware store is good enough, but the soil that comes in the large bags doesn’t have as many nutrients and most are made with Pearlite. I have found that after a heavy rain the pearlite floats to the top and runs out. Vermiculite stays in place. It gives the roots room and air to grow. The peat moss holds moisture and the compost provides the nutrients or food for the plant. No additional fertilizers are needed, no pesticides are used. Bug control and watering are done by hand. I have found that in 10 minutes I can water 4 garden boxes, weed, and inspect every plant for pests.

Next, plant your seeds or plants. Use heirloom seeds. A lot of seeds and plants that are at the store are genetically modified or are hybrids from the true seed. They are developed to only produce fruit once. The seeds that are saved from the hybrid plants may not reproduce the following year. As a rule, just get the heirloom seeds and if there is a chance that you are not able to buy seeds later; the seeds can be saved from the plants you already have. After you harvest your plants and are ready to plant something else, dig up the old roots shake off the dirt and plant a new crop in its place. At this time you need to replace the nutrients in the soil. Simply add a trowel full of compost to that one square. Fluff up the soil and replant with your next crop.

Because the boxes are small they are easy to protect and take care of. Most plants need to be in full sun. I live in the south and it is hot here. For hotter climates I recommend having some shade for lettuce plants and some herbs like cilantro and basil. Shade really helps them to thrive and cuts back on the need for water. Lettuce is sweeter if it doesn’t get too hot. If you find that your lettuce is bitter, put it in the fridge for a few days. It helps. The rest of the plants need a lot of sun. Broccoli, tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, melons they all thrive in the sun. I also recommend planting Marigolds and nasturtiums around the garden they keep out deer and some insects. Plus they look pretty.

Chicken wire and or netting can protect your garden from birds and animals. Again directions can be found on the web site. To protect from frost, hail or snow, make a dome using two PVC pipes and cover the pipes with clear plastic. The plastic dome can also serve as a greenhouse. Having the plastic dome will extend the growing season into the fall and winter months.

In an emergency or a TEOTWAWKI situation a garden may be moved short distances within your property. If you have to bug out it will most likely be left behind. But the lessons you learn from beginning a garden now are invaluable. What good is a can of seeds if you don’t know what to do with them? I have put my garden in the garage to protect it from hurricane winds. It just needs a plywood base. Don’t put a box that you plan to move directly on the ground. If the box sits on the ground it will hold the moisture and the plywood base eventually will rot. Placing five bricks underneath the box will do the trick. One brick in each corner and one in the center for support. The base also has predrilled drainage holes. My favorite garden is screwed onto an old picnic table. It is waist height and I don’t have to bend over to work in it. It would be perfect as a wheelchair garden.

A few years ago here in North Carolina during the summer when gas prices skyrocketed, tomatoes (shipped here from Mexico, another story) were around $5 per pound. This was when tomatoes were in season. I was thankful to have a garden in my yard. I walked out my back door and hand picked five tomatoes for dinner then shared some with my neighbors. They tasted better right off the vine and I didn’t even have to go to the store to get them.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Slaughtering and Butchering

Slaughtering and Butchering

By Dynah Geissal

Fall is butchering time, a period of joy in the harvest of the year’s work and of sadness that the lives of your beautiful, healthy animals have come to an end. On this occasion the animals should be treated with the same kindness and respect with which they were treated during their lives. Good farmers raise their animals free from fear, anxiety and stress. The animals should meet their end as they lived, without the terror of the slaughterhouse.

Making careful preparations will help you remain calm. After years and years of butchering I still feel a strong adrenaline rush when the animal is killed. Be prepared for that and use it to make sure the death is as painless as possible. A knowledgeable person can direct these strong feelings into doing the job right instead of letting their emotions get the best of them and botching the job. When the temperature only reaches 40° during the day and the pasture is no longer adequate feed, it is time to butcher. Sheep and goats should be nine months or under. Pigs should be just slightly jowly.

Past wisdom dictated that 250 pounds was optimum butchering weight for a pig, but after your porkers reach 225, the ratio of weight gain going to fat versus lean meat increases dramatically. After many years of experimentation, I try for 200 pounds. At that point my pigs have no more of a fat covering than my goats. There’s still enough fat for lard and sausage, but there’s no reason to pour more and more feed into them only to find their kidneys so imbedded in fat that they’re hard to locate. I buy my pigs in early May and by mid-November they are eating so voraciously that I know it can no longer be practical to keep them.

Figure 1.  Cutting around the foot. Figure 1. Cutting around the foot.

Calves are traditionally kept until they are 10-15 months old, but that can be a problem for a family raising their own meat. If the calf was born in February it could be butchered in December. In a place like Montana, however, December is late for butchering. With the temperatures around 0°, your meat would have to hang a very long time to age.

If you decided to keep the calf till spring, you would be faced with deciding whether to butcher it after feeding all winter or to let it grow some on the pasture.

By the time the calf is looking really big, it’s midsummer. In a cool climate you could butcher it then if you did it fast, but you would have to pay someone to hang it to age. In most climates, you don’t butcher between May and October anyway, if you can help it, because of the fly problem. So then you’re up to fall when you have all the other butchering to do. If you can manage it, I think that is your best option.

Here are a few additional suggestions to think about ahead of time. Butchering pigs and cows is easier if you withhold food for 24 hours before butchering. This is not totally necessary, and if you would feel bad having your animal hungry on its last day, don’t do it. Just be extra careful with the guts.

When you butcher only certain members of a herd, avoid frightening the others. Don’t run through the herd chasing the one you want. Move slowly and calmly. Try not to kill one animal in front of the others. Don’t slaughter in the animal’s home.

Figure 2.  Cutting down the body. Figure 2. Cutting down the body.

The exception to this is when you are slaughtering pigs. Swine do not care if you kill their companion and will rush over to drink the blood if they can.

It makes sense to leave the pig butchering until last so that they can consume anything that is left over. Don’t feed surplus fat to pigs, though. Only poultry can convert fat into useable production calories. That is because of their high rate of metabolism. If you feed fat to pigs, it will provide calories, but it can only become fat, not meat.

Before butchering, decide what parts you will save. I think I’ve tried saving just about everything, and I think there’s some value in that. However, if no one wants to eat it, the value is only in learning and experimenting and knowing the possibilities.

There is a certain satisfaction in using everything. Ears and tail can flavor a pot of beans. Hooves can make gelatin. Stomachs can hold blood sausage and other things. Lungs are edible. Intestines can be used to make sausage casings or cooked in some other additional dishes. I will describe what I keep, but feel free to make your own decisions about what you and your family would like to try.

A word about using the intestines for sausage. If the situation is such that you have running water in a hose, it is fairly easy to clean them. Otherwise you’ll have to do it indoors, which is a lot of work. After that you have to turn them inside out and scrape them.

If you don’t scrape them, they’ll still be edible but they’ll be tougher than you might like. These days I feed the intestines to the animals and buy prepared ones. If you buy them from a butcher house, they’re already prepared and quite inexpensive. Try not to buy them in the grocery store, as they demand ridiculous prices.

Be sure to save enough fat for lard, sausage making, and if you’re butchering a cow, for ground beef.

A goat is shot in the back of the head. The front is too hard. With a cow or a pig, mentally draw lines from the top of each ear to the opposite eye. Where the lines cross is where you shoot. One shot with a .22 should do it.

Figure 3.  Skinning from the center. Figure 3. Skinning from the center.

We shoot pigs in their pen. That is the least traumatic for everyone. If you do this, though, you’ll want to get the pig out of the pen as quickly as possible so as to slit the throat on clean ground. Throw a noose around its neck and drag it out. You want to slit the throat while the heart is still beating in order to get all the blood pumped out.

Stick the point of your big knife into the throat and cut outward through the skin. Never try to cut into the skin through the hair. Make sure you’ve severed the main veins and arteries.

Any male animal that is to be used as food should have been castrated. If that wasn’t done, however, remove the head and testicles right away. That’s easy with a goat, but a cow or pig can kick with a real wallop, so be careful. This is done so the meat won’t be tainted.

If you are butchering a pig, you will want to wash it down now. A pig is a clean animal in a natural environment but gets pretty dirty when confined. Be especially careful in cleaning the rear feet, for they’ll stay on unskinned.

Remove the head by cutting all the way around with your big knife. As always, avoid cutting into the hair. Instead keep your knife between the flesh and the skin and cut out. With a goat, twist the head until the bone snaps. With a pig or cow, use your meat saw.

Make slits between the achilles tendon and the ankles and insert the gambrel. At this point, you could scald a pig but in these days of preserving meat by freezing, there’s really no point. In days past, the skin was left on the bacon and hams to protect them. It’s traditional, but there’s no other reason to leave it on since we don’t eat it anyway. And logistically it’s just much simpler to skin. Remove front feet at the joint. Using a pulley for a goat and a come-along for a pig or cow, hoist the animal into the air to a height convenient for working on the rear of the animal.

Slip your short pointed knife (Figure 1) into the slit you made at the achilles tendon and cut around the foot, again cutting out, not in. Be very careful not to cut the tendon. With the knife between the flesh and the skin, slice a line through the skin down each leg to the centerline. Then cut down the body to the neck (Figure 2).

Figure 4.  Skinning the foreleg. Figure 4. Skinning the foreleg.

Now take your skinning knife and begin skinning at the junction where the leg cuts meet the centerline. Hold the skin with one hand or your hook and pull hard to create tension as you use your knife to separate the flesh from the skin. Work out from the center (Figure 3).

If you are not going to use the hide, you won’t have to worry about keeping it intact. Just be concerned about the meat in that case. You’ll have to be much more careful if you want to use the hide.

Keep pulling the skin away with your hand or the hook and continue to slice between the hide and the flesh until the belly is skinned. This will relieve the tension of the skin on the rump. Now work around the leg from front to back.

The next step is to start at the top of the “Y” and skin up and over the crotch. The skin is tightest here, so be especially careful if you’re saving the hide. Pull skin out and down to create tension on your work while you slice with your knife. A layer of fat makes the animal relatively easy to skin. Leave as much fat on the body as possible.

Work over the anus to the tailbone. Give the tail a sharp jerk and it will separate from the vertebrae. From here on, the weight of the skin practically skins the animal for you. Work all around the body. If there is too much movement on the gambrel, lean against the animal.

Raise the beast when it becomes difficult to reach your work. Bring the work to you and stay comfortable. The forelegs are a bit difficult near the shoulders. Start on the outside of the leg (Figure 4). Work around to the front. Skin the neck and the inner forelegs and shed the skin.

Lower the animal so that you can comfortably work on the rear of it. At this point you want to separate the large intestine from the body. You will begin by cutting around the anus with your short pointed knife. Be careful not to make any holes in the intestine. When it is cut free, pull it slightly out and tie it off. It is helpful to have a partner here. This step (tying) is unnecessary if you are butchering a goat.

Figure 5.  Cutting down the belly. Figure 5. Cutting down the belly.

Cut down the belly with your pointed knife. Cut from inside out as before. With your other hand hold the guts away from the point of the knife (Figure 5). Cut through the belly fat all the way down to the sternum. Next, cut the meat between the legs.

If the animal is a male, cut out the penis. Place a large container underneath to catch the guts. By now they will be bulging out of the body. At some point if you are butchering a ruminant, there may be a flow of greenish liquid from the neck. This is just the cud and nothing to worry about.

Cut through the fat surrounding the guts, then sever any tissue connecting them to the rear wall of the body cavity. Pull the anus through to the inside and then out. Separating the intestines from the body is tedious, so take your time. You don’t want to spill the contents into the meat.

Be careful also not to rupture the bladder. Some people tie it and then cut it off, but I’ve found that method to be more likely to cause spillage.

Pull the intestines and bladder out of the body. Most of the stomach will also be free now. You will need to reach in and under to lift it all over the sternum. Some people cut through the sternum, but it’s easy enough just to lift the guts out. Most everything will now be hanging out of the body. Strip away as much of the surrounding belly fat as you can to feed to the chickens. Get out the bowl for the innards you want to keep. Remove the kidneys and fat. Cut out the liver and put it into the keeper bowl along with the kidneys. Sever the remaining flesh connecting the stomachs to the body, and it should all fall into the gut bucket.

Figure 6.  A goat ready to cut up. Figure 6. A goat ready to cut up.

Cut out the diaphragm and remove the lungs and heart by severing the connective tissue behind them. Separate the heart from the lungs and squeeze out the blood from the heart. The heart is a keeper, while the lungs aren’t.

From the neck end, cut out the windpipe. Be sure the opening is clear all the way through the body cavity. Clean all over with cold water. (Now you see that if you hadn’t cleaned those rear feet of a pig, the dirt from them could contaminate the meat.)

Except for pork, we age all our meat from fowl to cow, and strongly advise you to do the same. Pork should only hang overnight to chill, and all meat should be cut up in a chilled state. A goat should age one week in 40° weather, longer in colder weather. If it’s too warm to age it, it’s a real shame to butcher at that time, because the meat won’t be as tender as it could be. A goat is hung whole.

To halve a larger carcass, face the belly while your partner helps hold the body and helps to guide the saw from the back when necessary. Use your fingertips on the blade to guide your cut. A cow should be quartered for ease of handling, of course, but also to allow the meat to cool as quickly as possible. Merely cut between the 2nd and 3rd ribs and be ready to hold the fore section. It should be hung for two weeks under the proper conditions.

When you’re finished working on the animal’s body, it’s time to salvage the tongue and brains from the head. The easiest way to get the tongue is to cut under the jaw in the soft space in the middle. When you have slit this open, reach in and cut the tongue loose from its mooring. Working through the mouth is much harder.

Chopping the skull with an axe works for getting out the brains, but sawing it in half with your meat saw gets the job done with a bit more finesse. If you plan to use the rest of the head, you will have to skin it now. Remove the ears, eyes, nose and anything that doesn’t look like meat or bone. Clean thoroughly. You may want to brush the teeth. You could make goat’s head soup or you could make headcheese. The only heads I use these days are pigs.

Some people use the jowls for bacon, but if you’ve butchered before the pig has gotten really fat, there won’t be much there. I use the head meat for scrapple, tamale meat and pozole. I used to use some in liverwurst, but we prefer these other dishes.

In any case, you’ll need a pot large enough to hold the head. If you cook with a wood stove as I do, just add water to cover, put a lid on and leave it on the stove to simmer until the meat is tender. It’s less convenient if you use some other kind of fuel.

Figure 7.  Separating the rear third of a pig. Figure 7. Separating the rear third of a pig.

Remove the meat and bones from the pot and separate them. Take out anything that looks strange and you’re ready to use whatever recipes you’ve decided on. Boil down your broth to a manageable amount and either use it in your recipes or freeze it for later use.

When you are ready to cut up your meat, refer to the section that applies to your animal. Cutting up a deer or a sheep is the same as a goat.

Cutting up a goat

Cut behind the shoulder blades to remove the front legs. Cut off leg at elbow. These lower legs can be soup bones, but they’re not much good for anything else. You can package the shoulder as it is or you can bone it, roll and tie for a rolled roast. You could also cut it up for stew meat. Take as much meat from the neck as you can. Use that for soup.

You could cut chops if you wanted. You would have to saw through the backbone between every rib to do that. You could bone out the chops to avoid all the sawing. Or you could just cut out the whole muscle bundle along the backbone. It’s called the backscrap and is the best meat on the animal (that’s what I do).

Figure 8.  Separating the front third of a pig. Figure 8. Separating the front third of a pig.

Next take your meat saw and cut the ribs from the backbone. Then cut them in half with your knife for easy packaging. Underneath the backbone is the tenderloin. Cut that out.

Now for the rear third. Cut off the foot. Next cut off the leg at the knee. These are your shanks. Separate the legs at the pelvis. These are the only roasts I keep from a goat. I use the front shoulders for stew or stir fry. You can package the leg as it is or bone it. Boning saves a lot of space and a rolled roast is a pleasure to cut when it’s cooked, too.

That’s it except for working over all the bones to retrieve any last bits of meat for your sausage bucket. I save one goat just for sausage and one for jerky. You may want to do that, or you may have other favorite uses. Goat meat (or chevon as it’s called) is really wonderful when it’s properly handled.

Cutting up a pig

There are many ways to cut up a pig and many ways to cure meat. I’m going to tell you how I do it and why I use this method. If you’re doing your own curing, you have the vagaries of weather to contend with. Below freezing and it doesn’t cure. Fifty degrees and it spoils.

In my first experiments I used an old fashioned cure. It was very salty. The hams and bacon hung in a cool room all year and didn’t spoil. If you don’t have a freezer, you could do that.

You can use a dry cure or a brine cure. In the brine cure, the strength of the brine is det ermined by the amount of meat. Theoretically it can’t get too salty that way, and I have found that to be true.

If you butcher when it’s 40°, and then it warms up to the 50s, then it freezes for a while, then warms up to 50° again, there’s a real danger that your meat will sour around the bone. By the time it’s in the warm smokehouse, you’ve really got trouble. For this reason I bone the hams. I have never had a problem since I began doing this. Also it makes the ham nice to cut when it’s rolled and tied.

Figure 9.  Separating the ribs from the chops. Figure 9. Separating the ribs from the chops.

Your pig should have hung overnight so that the meat is firm. Now you will want to cut your side of pork into thirds. To do this take your meat saw and cut straight down from the backbone through the aitch bone to separate the rear ham from the body. (Blue tape, Figure 7.) The cut should go right through the ball and socket joint. Remove the foot.

To separate the front third, cut between the second and third ribs again cutting straight down from the backbone. (Blue tape, Figure 8.) Look carefully at the muscle bundles and try to keep them intact.

Take the middle section and make another cut after the 11th rib. Then cut across the ribs parallel to the backbone to separate the ribs from the chops. (Blue tape, Figure 9.) Look at both ends of the meat to see where to cut. Remove the belly fat and save it for sausage and lard.

Saw through the backbone for chops and finish your cuts with a knife. It’s helpful to have a partner to hold it steady. Trim off the extra fat but as always, leave some.

Now trim out the loin. Feel the bone with your fingers and just cut out the muscle bundle as well as you can. This is your best roast. Cut it into whatever size you want (Figure 10).

Figure 10.  Rolled poark roasts and the bone they came from. Figure 10. Rolled poark roasts and the bone they came from.

Trim the excess fat from the ribs. Decide whether you want extra meaty ribs or if you want to slice off most of the meat for bacon. Cut the bacon from the ribs (Figure 11). Cut the ribs into easily packaged pieces, but leave the bacon whole until after smoking (Figure 12).

Before cutting your hams, you’ll have to decide whether you want them large or small and how much meat you want for sausage, stir fry, etc. Cutting hams and roasts takes some practice, but don’t worry too much. They can always be trimmed to look nice and nothing is wasted. It can always go into the sausage bucket.

Begin two piles of trimmings. One will be for sausage and the other will be better pieces for stir fry. Take the front third and cut off the hock. If you wanted to make this a shoulder roast you could, but the meat is very fatty and not as good quality as the rear. It could also be used for sausage or stir fry. When you make your roasts, study the muscle bundles and try to keep them intact as much as possible. To bone, cut to the bone and cut around it as well as possible and along the backbone to the third rib. Cut off the front muscle bundle and put it into the sausage bucket. Roll it up as it would be with the bone in and trim it to look nice. Trim off excess fat.

Take the rear third and decide how much hock you want and cut that off. Bone out the rear hams and trim off excess fat. This is tedious, so just take your time. Make your cut in to the bone and cut it out as well as possible. Trim end for looks (Figure 13).

Figure 11.  The bacon separated from the ribs. Figure 11. The bacon separated from the ribs.

Put your bacon, hams and hocks into the curing bucket. Be sure to save enough fat for sausage and lard, and you’re finished with this part.

Cutting up a cow

Begin with the hind quarter. Cut off the leg by making a cut with the meat saw from the hip to the tailbone. If you cut across the top, you will have round steaks. The first cuts are top round and are the best. Thicker cuts make round roasts. The small, less meaty part near the shank is the heel of round. The shank is a soup bone.

The muscle flap on the belly is the flank steak. Cut that off and remove the layers of fat. The rump roast is the meaty end that was cut away from the leg. Bone it out for a rump roast or just cut it off with the saw.

Figure 12. A pig cut up but not yet boned (front) Figure 12. A pig cut up but not yet boned (front)

The top muscle on the remaining piece is all steak. You could cut through the backbone for each steak or bone it out and then cut into steaks. Or the part behind the ribs could be left whole for a sirloin roast. The meat underneath the backbone is the tenderloin or filet mignon which can be removed and cut into steaks (butterfly) or left whole.

Your steaks, beginning at the rear just ahead of the rump roast and moving forward, are sirloin, porterhouse, T-bone, if boned, separate into the filet mignon and New York strip. The rib steaks could be left whole for a rib roast, which would be your best roast. Everything left on this quarter is stew or burger. Stew meat is the better meat. Remove the fat and anything un-meatlike.

Now we’re ready for the front quarter. To remove the leg, lift it up and start cutting underneath until you have cut behind the shoulder blade and separated the leg from the body. The part on the shoulder is called a blade roast. It can be boned or just cut with the saw to the size you prefer. The top part of the leg is chuck and can be made into roasts or steaks. It can be boned or not. The lower part of the leg is burger or soup bone. There are probably a couple of rib steaks on the remaining piece, so cut these out. The neck meat is stew. The meat at the front that would have been just behind the leg is brisket. Remove that from its bone.

Figure 13.  Roasts, hams, chops, bacon, ribs & sausage trimmings. Figure 13. Roasts, hams, chops, bacon, ribs & sausage trimmings.

Cut as many ribs as you want for short ribs. Everything else is stew or burger. When making hamburger, use at least one fourth fat.


Mix the brine before you cut up your pork, so you can just drop it right in. Two five-gallon buckets of food grade plastic works fine for two pigs. The recipe is for 100 lbs. of meat which should also be right for two pigs. Measure out 8 pounds of pickling salt and 2 pounds of sugar, honey, brown sugar or maple syrup. This is the critical part. Dissolve this in water. We add other spices such as cayenne, black pepper, garlic, etc. but this is only for added flavor and not necessary. The use of boiling water aids in dissolution.

Some people add saltpeter (nitrates), but all it does is make the meat a uniform pink, and I prefer not to use this additive. Bacon and hocks will cure in a week at 40°. Hams will take six weeks. For every day below freezing, another day should be added.

Weight the meat so it doesn’t come above the brine, adding more water if necessary. Use a plate with a clean rock on top.

Figure 14.  Cuts of meat from a pig. Figure 14. Cuts of meat from a pig.


Any kind of meat can be used for sausage. Just save whatever scraps you have from cutting up meat. You can use as little as ¼ fat, but the sausage is much, much better if 1/3 is used. Sausage making is one of the most fun of all my projects. But don’t rush through it or it can turn into a nightmare. If you’ve just finished cutting up your pig, give yourself a break and wait until the next day to do the sausage.

I have enclosed several recipes that you might like to try. We like to make many different kinds each year. Whatever you do though, take the time to cook some of each type before you package it or stuff it into casings. It may be too bland or worse too spicy, in which case you’ll have to add more meat.

If sausage is being made from pork, only one grinding will suffice but beef or goat should be ground twice using a coarser grind the first time.

Figure 15.  Cuts of meat from a cow Figure 15. Cuts of meat from a cow

Some recipes call for water and some don’t, but if you’re making link sausage you will have to add some liquid. Add enough so that the sausage is easy to work.


Hardwood must be used for smoking so that the meat doesn’t get resins in it, as it would from pine. When smoking hams, bacon and sausage, you use what is called a cool smoke. This means that the meat is not being cooked while it is being smoked. You can use anything to hold the meat and smoke. We built a smokehouse out of sheets of plywood, which enables us to walk inside to hang the meat.

We use an old woodstove to provide the smoke, which passes from the stove through a stovepipe with damper into the smokehouse. The pipe should go in fairly low, but not so low as to inhibit draw. For an hour or so, leave the door ajar to let excess moisture escape. Then close it and try to keep the temperature around 100°. When it’s done is a judgement call, but we give sausage approximately 12 hours, bacon 14, and hams 48. The color is the key. It should be the color of mahogany.