High View of Butcher Shop

Looking Down on Butcher Shop

I took this photo standing on top of our delivery van to get a little extra height while it was parked up hill of the butcher shop. Click on the image to get a much larger view and you can even enlarge that more.

Click to spin and enlarge

The two grey rooms on the near right are:

Admin: (far right)
– Inspector’s office
– Bathroom (toilet, shower, laundry)
– Mechanical Room
– Storage room
– Entry
– Smokehouse
– Processing Entry

Abattoir: (near right)
– a.k.a. kill floor / slaughter room

Lairage: (right of Abattoir along the old pink farm house)
– here the animals rest the night before slaughter
– ante-mortum inspection prior to entering the Abattoir.

Reefer: (left of the Admin and Abattoir)
– section of the building that will be refrigerated.
– Carcass chiller
– Cutting Room
– Kitchen
– Brine
– Cooler
– Freezer

Big rules in food preparation:
– Keep it clean;
– Keep it cool;
– Keep it cloistered.

These many small rooms help with the last. Raw food prep happens in one room, brining in another, cooking in another, etc. Refrigerating all the work rooms as well as the chiller, freezer and cooler means we keep the meat always cool. Since everything is made to wash down we can keep it clean. All this improves the quality of the meat making for a better, safer product.

About 2/3rds of the building is refrigerated. That means we’re pumping heat out of it. The heat we move will be used to pre-heat our water and also to warm the much smaller administrative section of the building. That saves on heating costs. The, like our cottage, is built into the hillside. It is bermed on the wet and eventually we’ll berm more on the north and may plant the roof. I’ve designed for the structural strength necessary. The butcher shop should perform like our cottage which does not require heating – we only use 3/4 cord of wood a year to bring it from the mid-40’s Fahrenheit to Holly’s comfortable temperature range during the winter.

In the layout drawing above the reefer is blue (cool) and the other sections are reddish (warmer). The layout is colored by heat codes. Note that the smokehouse, a source of heat, is in the warmer Admin section where the inspector can appreciate it in their office.

All those white pipes sticking up in the photo at the top are stubs from plumbing, vents and conduits that go down between the forms. I’m about to join the vents. All of that will be encased in the concrete and accessible via the Jeffries Tubes, like in any good starship. Yes, there really is something called that.

Jefferies tubes are narrow tunnels or corridors that provide access to critical starship systems. They can be vertically or horizontally oriented, and form a network that allows travel throughout large volumes of a starship even when the turbolifts are not functioning.
Wiki on Jeffries Tubes

Along the driveway you can see some of the ceiling form work trusses Holly has been making – jiggity-jig. That set on the driveway are a barrel vault design for the chiller ceiling. In the Kitchen and Cutting room the arch design is catenary. Different loads and ceiling height requirements. Arches and vaults are fun.

Happenings on the construction include:

  • Base plates are all done;
  • Wall plumbing is all completed;
  • All reefer interior walls forms are setup for this pour of Carcass Chiller, Cutting Room, Commercial Kitchen, FCB (Freezer, Chiller, Brine);
  • Header plates are complete;
  • Diagonal FCB ceiling force braces set;
  • Stud Braces, Walers & Tie Rods all in place and tight;
  • Base Plates rechecked and gaps filled;
  • Door from Abattoir to Lairage opened;
  • Excess concrete forms moved out into Lairage;
  • Abattoir and Admin prepped for floor plumbing;
  • Carcass Chiller Ceiling Trusses built;
  • Commercial Kitchen Ceiling Trusses built; and
  • Cutting Room Ceiling Trusses almost all built.

We’ve made an adjustment to our pour schedule, combining the walls and ceilings into one simultaneous pour. This pushes the date back a little but it is no loss of time since otherwise we would have done two pours spaced by cure time. The result will be better. I’ve been debating doing this for a year, it makes the pour a little more complicated but I think we can handle it. The trick is not doing too many things that pour day and getting overwhelmed.

One of the nice things about having the architect, engineering staff and contractor onsite full-time (Yours Truly) is that I can get changes made in the design if something comes up and we can adjust as our skill set improves – why we do practice things along the way in progressively bigger ways.

Along that line, I’ve decided to add two feet to the height of the carcass chiller. This does several things good this for us in the long run:

  • Air flow is improved – important if we ever fill the chiller.
  • If I want to use a larger evaporator to draw out more BTUs I’ll have the flexibility and space to step up to the next size in the future.
  • When we have the money we can put in a second refrigeration in the carcass chiller which will mean we would have an automatic backup should the first one ever fail. Then they could both be sized such that on the occasions we need the extra power the second unit steps into provide the extra cooling during carcass pull down. The refrigeration systems cost about $15,000 to $18,000 so having a second unit is a future luxury, not part of our current budget.
  • It will allow us to have the carcass chilling rail at the rooms full 20′ length so we have more space for more hanging carcasses and aging space.
  • We’ll be able to have the flexibility of partitioning off the north end as an aging room with full height for beef. Partitions an be used to adjust the air flow for humidity and air movement control and the evaporators are up above the rail.
  • Dropping the rail two feet was another option I considered but that would require quartering big carcasses. We have had pigs like Spot and Big’Un who were 12′ long hanging. Archimedes is big although not the size of Big’Un and Spot. Speckles is getting huge. Guy Noir is still very young but very long. By keeping the rail at its full 11’8″ height we maintain the possibility maybe of doing our full size boars as well as one ton cattle without quartering them. Spot would have touched the floor even from a full height 11’8″ rail. He was a rare choo-choo train pig who had grown to full size over a long life. Since that sort of length and growth rate is a goal I should build with it in mind.
  • Keeping the carcasses whole instead of quartering saves space in the chiller and improves meat quality. If the carcass hangs whole or halved but not quartered the weight pulls on the meat to better tenderize it during aging.

On the negative side the chiller will be two feet taller. This will raise the cost by about $1,000 for additional materials and about a day of extra work. There will be additional costs in the rest of the building but with a little creative spatial folding I can minimize that by lifting carcass chiller into the coolth storage attic by two feet sacrificing a little space there. Architectural origami.

In retrospect, I wish that I had made the roof of our tiny cottage one or two feet taller to give more room in the kids loft. At the time the 12′ height seemed huge. The kids say it is fine but I would appreciate the extra height when I go upstairs. It would give them more space for their grand piano and such. I’ve threatened to lift the roof of the cottage – long ago I did that on another far larger house. But they assure me, “no, no, it really is fine, really, just fine.”

Outdoors: 75°F/50°F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 69°F/67°F

Daily Spark: You can do anything with bayonets except sit on them.
Variously attributed to: Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, French Prime Minister Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, English Poet Thomas Hardy, German Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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8 Responses to High View of Butcher Shop

  1. Anon says:

    That’s going to be a right maze of little rooms. Bad place for a claustrophobe! But, feng shui probably wasn’t high on your list of concerns. (What would be proper feng shui for a butchery, anyway?)

    I’m having fun watching this come together. Good luck with the construction!

    • *grin* That maze of twisty little rooms makes it hard for the heat to get in and the cold to get out as well as giving a very (calm) linear path for product to follow through the system. You’re looking at Feng’Functionality. That’s what Feng Shui is really all about.

  2. Craig says:

    I do epoxy quartz floors …perfect for what you are building. You pay for material and I will barter the labor ….. Normal pricing for material and labor is 6-10 $ a sqft.


    • Possibility. We’ll talk. Our plan is to use epoxy on floors, walls and ceilings to protect the concrete and make it completely cleanable. We’ve done a little small stuff to try it out and plan to start by doing the closets in Admin for practice before moving to more critical areas. Having someone around who actually knows the tricks of the trade, who has expertise would be great. Either way we’re paying for materials and we can provide CSA shares of pork for labor. I’ll shoot you an email.

  3. Amanda says:

    I love these toors of your projects. The map of it you click on is cool. I like how you made it be like the photo. That made it easier to visualize. Keep doing these updates. It is my vicarious farmville!

  4. Sean Govan says:

    So your butcher shop is a nano-. Would Cole Ward’s be a micro-?

    Dumb question: why does it have to have a shower and laundry?

    Also, since reading your posts about your built-in ways of saving energy and redirecting coolth, I’ve been wondering how much you actually spend on electricity per year.

    The more I read about your butcher shop, the more it boggles my mind. As in, fires my imagination. Wow.

    • Cole’s would be pico-

      Shower is required for the inspector and it is nice to have. Currently they don’t use it but if we did slaughter they might.

      Laundry services is required for the inspector although they never use it. We use it heavily as I like cloth rags rather than paper towels and then there is all our butcher shop clothing.

      Electricity is currently at about $400/month which varies somewhat seasonally. In winter the major users are the tractors – keeping the oil and block heaters warm through the very cold nights.

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