The Butcher on the Barkly

Host: Alexandria Station
Written by Neil – Butcher, Alexandria Station.

Welcome to the Alexandria Butcher shop. My name is Neil and I run the Alexandria Butcher shop. That’s right – I have a butcher shop! Most stations have a building or room they call a meat house. With the number of staff on a property the size of Alexandria, a standard meat house just wouldn’t do the job.

This is my office - butcher shop at AlexandriaThis is my office – butcher shop at Alexandria.

You could say beef is in my blood, I was born and raised around the Mt Isa/Cloncurry area on a family owned cattle property. After doing my butcher’s apprenticeship I worked in the mines for a while then moved into owning a butcher shops in Mt Isa. Looking for a less stressful way of life, I now find myself living on the Barkly tablelands and loving it.

I operate the butcher shop as I would a butcher shop in town, I make a whole range of sausages, sometimes I spice them up and sometimes I heat them up, I have caught a few of the boys out at the Sunday night BBQ, “God butcher, that’s bloody hot”. I always come back with “What are yah! Man or a mouse?”.

You could say the most popular product I make in the Butcher shop is beef jerky. The Ringers just love it, I put a bucket of it in the kitchen one day and it’s gone the next.

I do all my own kills, during the season when the station is in full swing, I would kill a beast once a week. I have a kill box down beside the horse yards at the homestead. I normally let a carcass hang in the chiller for about seven days before I prepare all the cuts for packing and freezing.

The Butcher shop, or my castle as I call it (though others call it the Taj Mahal), has a very large boning room with a large chiller area where four or five carcasses could hang at one time if the need ever arises. There is also a walk in freezer room for bulk storing of meat product, bread, ice cream, and any other freezable foods. I don’t only do the butchering; I also do few other odd jobs around the station, which helps keep things interesting.

I renovated the old pig pen and now we have a few young pigs we purchased in town. At the start, I brought a mating pair of well-bred Berkshire pigs. I just love pigs – any animal really. Before they got the baby making job done, a snake must have bitten the boar because I found him as stiff as a board one morning in the pen. So the pig breeding program’s on hold for a while.

Scotty the station mechanic and I got together and made a spit out of an old fuel tank we found down the dump, brought a spit motor, rigged it all up and Bob’s your uncle. We had pig on a spit to celebrate old Johnny Rankine’s 65th birthday and fifty years employment with NAP Co. What a night that was.

Scotty the mechinic and I with the spit we built togetherScotty the mechanic and I with the spit we built together.

At present I’m repairing a few holes in an old aluminium tinny, I scabbed from one of the outstations, once she is done we’re heading down to Lorne creek, to see what we can catch. Now that is my ideal holiday, camping, fishing, and a few coldies.

Until next time.

Cheers Neil