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Warts and All

November 5, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments


Your friendly butcher

Following on from yesterday’s post about my first permanent job, my first part-time job was at a butcher’s shop around the corner from our place. I used to work there after school during the week and it was one of the more interesting places for a kid to work.  Think pre Workcover laws and the words Health and Safety here before you go on or the lack of them more to the point.

Now if you have a soggy stomach, turn away now.

I used to do everything except I wasn’t allowed near the band saw.  I used a range of VERY sharp knives, meat cleavers and hack saws to great effect and loved this job like you wouldn’t believe.  Move over Norman Bates!

I was given minimal instruction and told to go for it.  A sedate job included making the sausages, and boy, did you get value for money here and you were better off not knowing what went into them.  We had sawdust over the floor to catch the meat and blood and you can see what I’m alluring to by “value for money”.  I used to pulverise the meat in a big grinder and then pump it into the salt encrusted sausage skins and then twist off the snags at the required length.  After a week or two, I could pump out fat and skinny snags like a man possessed, and of course, a few landed on the floor and immediately got tossed back into the pile with a casual brush of the attached sawdust.

I had to bone the meat after the two butchers had cut off the prime pieces and we used that for the mince.  The cuts on my hands started to accumulate and you got used to a nick here and there and didn’t worry about band-aids and who was going to know the difference between human and animal blood anyway.  The only trouble with all those cuts on your hands was that I also had to salt meat in a brine bath and that brought a tear to your eyes.  Nowadays, butchers use chain mesh gloves.  Wimps!

You really had to use brains for my most favourite job.  The butchers got a big bucket of sheep’s heads from the abattoir each day and I had to crack them open with a cleaver and extract the brains.  There was a certain amount of finesse involved as you could shatter the skull and splatter brain matter all over the wall if you didn’t get the crack just right.  I became an expert in no time and I used to love inviting my friends around to see what I did in the butchers shop, and of course, the first thing I did was whip out a couple of brains and that would be the last I saw of them.  Wimps!

A great benefit of working in a butchers shop on a stinking hot summers day was that I was invited into the freezer after work as the boys polished off a slab of beer and they’d have soft drinks and ice-cream for me.  Fifteen minutes in that place and a heatwave was a distant memory.

I had warts on my hands and my mother had an old wives tale that said if you rubbed beef on them they would disappear.  I tried it for awhile and got bored with that but three months in the butchers shop and they were all gone.

Remember what I said about value for money in those sausages!

  1. Thomas Houseman
    November 5, 2009 at 8:40 am

    Hehehe, sounds fun. I can recall making sausages (at about 6 years of age) on my uncles farm after he’s slaughtered a cow or sheep… the farm dogs sure knew they were onto a good thing when he’d drag some poor unsuspecting animal off to the shed….

    Thomas – They obviously thought there was more than just an old bone in it.

  2. june in florida
    November 5, 2009 at 9:05 am

    I worked in a bakery and a dairy while in school, no gory stories, but the dairy was next to the slaughterhouse. I got chased by an enraged sow once and only escaped with my life by climbing some office stairs and she made it half way up.

    June – Reminds me of the time a bull chased me in a paddock. I still can’t remember clearing this high barb wired fence.

  3. November 5, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    Why they call them “mystery bags”…



    Scott – I forgot about that. Would have made a good title.

  4. Muppet's Mum
    November 5, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    I’ll never eat another sausage …

    MM – We’ll test you out at some stage.

  5. November 8, 2009 at 4:40 am

    We have a set of lovely stainless steel kitchen knives. They sit in the knife block and are really pretty. They also don’t hold an edge for toffee! I have two carbon steel knives hidden somewhere. They are for my use only. In the past I have left them casually in the kitchen only to find the IN THE DISHWASHER later on with a nice thick coat of rust. Good knives are important. You will appreciate this as you have spent time in the trenches.

    Peggy – “knives hidden somewhere”. Everyone should be well safe even if you don’t know where they are!

    Those butchers knives were the sharpest things I have ever worked with. It was only later did I realise how expensive they were too.

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