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Survival School: Day 12
Jul 26, 2007, 11:42p - Life

Today we got to kill & process a sheep. Steve told us this morning, & we're going to be @ the same campsite for the next 4 nights, so we also have time to practice our skills (e.g. fire). The sheep was female, weighed ~80 lbs, and was a member of the Navajo churro (sp?) species. We spent 15 min preparing: washing hands, sharpening knives, praying/meditating. I put my contacts in for the first time since Day 1 - what a good feeling. We hadn't even seen the sheep yet. We drew pine needles to see who got to cut the sheep's throat - I drew the short straw so I would have gotten to cut it, but there weren't enough straws so we had to draw again. British Nic drew the short straw the second time, so he got to cut the throat. The technique: insert the large knife where the jaw meets the neck, push all the way through, and pull towards the front of the animal so both jugular veins are severed. This way the blood flow to the brain is stopped, & the animal loses consciousness quickly. That's the idea, anyway. We walked 100 yds to where Crit had the sheep on the ground w/ her neck over a hole. The sheep was lying on her side, & Crit was holding her & calming her. All 12 of us gathered around the sheep, & held/touched a different part of her body. I held the front 2 legs down. Nic took Steve's knife, held it facing the neck w/ his right hand, capped the top w/ his left, & cut through w/ 2 swiping motions, down & back. He missed both jugulars, so Steve went in & cut them w/ his smaller knife. There was a lot blood, about 32-64 oz's of it. Crit caught most of it in a Billy can. The sheep jerked a bit, but not too violently. Her pupils began to dilate, & within 1 minute all jerking had stopped. She also wheezed for air once. Watching the whole process, somehow it didn't seem so bad - here was an object that we were slaughtering for food. She didn't scream or really struggle, & the pain lasted @ most for 1 minute. I didn't cry, though Leland did. Everyone else seemed pretty calm.

Now dead, we carried the sheep to a tree, were we skinned it. I made a cut to the fascia from front ankle to breast plate. We removed the 4 feet, & I removed the skin from 1 of them. Everyone participated. After the skin was removed (w/ knife or obsidian), it was rolled up & set aside. Next, we gutted the animal. First, she was hung by her Achille's heels to a stick hanging from a tree branch, head closest to the ground. Steve cut around the anus. We also made cuts around the belly, so the guts (esophagus, trachea, diaphragm, lungs, stomach, heart, small intestine, large intestine, liver, gall bladder, kidneys, spleen) could be removed w/o puncturing them & ruining the meat. We placed the guts, all connected on a tarp. Steve cut out the good pieces - kidneys, heart, lungs, liver. The lungs are nature's balloons, & Steve blew into them & they swelled to 5x their original size. Amazing. After separating the edible guts, I went w/ a small group to clean the stomach & the large intestines. Lots of green shit, mostly grass. We'll use the intestines for sausages for dinner. Cleaning the intestines was pretty nasty, but actually not too bad. We dumped the crap in a hole, & inverted the intestines & stomach. We'll use the stomach to make bread filled w/ flour & boiled. W/ a clean stomach & large intestines, we came back to the hanging carcass.

Sheep carcass hanging from her Achille's heels, legs & head removed. Right side of the back and butt shown here.

Sheep carcass hanging after all guts have been removed - you can see the empty belly. Abe in the background.

People kept hacking @ the carcass, removing the head, back straps (best part), legs, ribs, & spinal column. I cut out a set of ribs. We had snacks of cracklin's & blood tacos, both w/ salt & both amazingly tasty. Crit was @ a propane stove (due to fire restriction [a park rule that prevented us from making open fires, due to the fear of forest fires given the weather]). First, he slow-burned a bunch of fat to created rendered fat for oil. Next, he fried small bites of fat & muscle in it, creating cracklin - pure fatty goodness :) Next, he fried tortillas of spelt flour, which puffed up just like [Indian] puris. Next, he took the sheep blood & cooked it like scrambled eggs, straight in a pan. After a few minutes, it went from red to black clumps, & looked like raisins or black olives diced up. Didn't taste like much, but super-rich in protein & really good for you. Leland couldn't really stomach it - funny, cause he ate the sheep's eye - but it was really good on top of the fried cakes. That's what Crit calls a blood taco, & we had a couple w/ onions, for lunch.

Next, we started making jerky by picking the muscle off of 2 of the legs, separating the fat & sinew out. I spent a couple hours doing that, w/ a knife.

Sheep jerky drying in the sun (takes several days)

Self-portrait on day 12

Another group cut up the good guts & filled the clean intestine w/ it, making sausages. Used rope to tie off the pieces. Looked damn good. Then I collected dandelion leaves to supplement dinner - they're bitter but very tasty. Crit fried up more cracklin, & boiled the intestines for about 40 min. Then he pan-fried them, w/ dandelion leaves. He cut them up. Then, he fried the liver & tongue. We ate it all, including drinking the grease, passing the food platter around. Lots of fat, not too much food though - less than the stew of previous nights. Liver was good, tasted like seafood. Tongue was good, very chewy. Intestines were tasty too. But sooooo little food.

I've renamed BOSS [from Boulder Outdoor Survival School] to Boulder Outdoor Starvation School.

Oh yeah, forgot to write that we learned about spruce (blue spruce), firs, & oaks. Also, the sheep (name unknown) cost $100 & was from a local, grass-fed ranch. After dinner, carved a top rock & tried to make fire. Failed miserably - made notch in hole, but broke it after a few tries. No coals. :( Made a second hole, but notch is too big & the spindle slips out, so now I need to make a 3rd hole. Very frustrating. Got dark & was tired, so went to bed. In bed, began thinking back on the killing of the sheep.

Vegetarianism - So, here's the deal: did the killing of the sheep constitute murder? She's a conscious creature that exhibits behaviors that are close enough to human to indicate emotion. How conscious is she? Hard to say, given our limited conception of consciousness, but I would guess that she was as conscious as Zoë. And of course, I would never kill & eat Zoë. But, while I won't kill something of my own, I may kill something someone else owns. For example, I may refuse to cut down a tree in my yard for lumber, but happily buy lumber from someone else. Is that hypocritical? If the only reason I'm not cutting down the tree is because I don't want to kill it, then yes, it is. If I'm not cutting it down because I like having a tree in my yard, it gives shade, etc., then no, it isn't hypocritical. Why stop @ conscious creatures, or creatures who exhibit certain features of consciousness? Why not stop killing all "living" things? "Life", while better defined than consciousness, is still pretty ill-defined... Well, first things first - what are my options? The first option is to not eat any mammals, except in a life or death situation (a real survival situation [not what we were in]). Mammals are a somewhat arbitrary classification, but it may be a practical one. The reason not to kill/eat a creature of sufficient consciousness is to minimize the pain & suffering that I cause, & to maximize the opportunity for individual pleasure & happiness in the world. So even a pain-free death would not work, because death limits the individual's capacity for pleasure & happiness. Also, increasing my pleasure @ the direct expense of another (e.g. eating meat) is not allowed in as moral behavior either. So what are the personal ramifications of not eating mammals? No more beef (burger, steak, beef burritos, fajitas, meat sauce), no more lamb, no more pig (salami, pepperoni, sausage). Jesus. In one fell swoop a substantial amount of pleasure is removed from my world. But I think I should try it, because it seems like the right thing to do. Yikes. What am I doing? At least I can still eat fish & chicken... They don't seem above the consciousness threshold - I don't think they suffer or feel pleasure - but what if they do? I guess I'll have to wait & see what I can figure out about that...

Slept OK, not as good as before, ground was hard & I moved a lot. Night went by fast, though...

[Written on day 13]

Read comments (5) - Comment

Brian - Jan 13, 2008, 10:58p
aah! where are the rest of the entries? I can't see anything past day 12.

I'm trying to decide if BOSS is worth the expense and effort, and your journal has been really helpful so far - do I get to read the rest of it?


nikhil - Jan 14, 2008, 4:44p
I'm doing one post per day, so over the next couple of weeks the rest of the entries will be published.

Patience :)

george - Jun 10, 2008, 6:26p
good luck on sorting out the whole concept on the animals pleasure/ pain validation.

Its noble to be on a search for truth.

krhea3 - Nov 11, 2009, 11:56a
you ass see hole how could you eat a poor dog !!!!!!!!!! i could someone not likeing a dog but eating a dog come on how low can you get !!

Yolanda - Jan 8, 2017, 11:50p
It was a sheep dude

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