Getting Fat Is Harder Than You Think

Hypocrisy (Part 4)

by D.J.

I’ve decided that it’s just not realistic for someone like me, who lives in an urban environment and doesn’t own a car and doesn’t watch TV, to catch enough wild animals to supply my family with all of the animal fat we need for soapmaking.

Cute rat

With an all-cheese diet, just think how much fat this guy has!

Now, I could totally catch enough rats by using a humane-catch rat trap, and then killing the rats. But Cate has this quaint hang-up about rats, and she doesn’t want to use soap made from rat fat, or store dead rats in our freezer. So, whatever. I guess no one is perfect.

While I wait for her to change her mind about the rats, I’ve decided the best option for getting good quality fat is to buy livestock and slaughter it myself.Goat

My first attempt was a goat I bought on Craigslist ($220! For a goat!). I picked it up and brought it back home on the Metro by putting a leash and harness on it, wearing sunglasses, and telling anyone who asked that it was a guide dog.

So, here’s how it worked out. I was in my backyard getting ready to slaughter the goat. I’d taken my shirt off to keep blood off of it, and I had a replica Sword of Gryffindor I bought from the Skymall catalog on a cross-country flight after I’d been drinking a little. I wasn’t able to find a chart showing the fattiest cuts of meat on a goat, but I found one for pigs, which I figured was pretty close.

swordI was chasing the goat around the yard with the sword when out comes my neighbor Noah, who starts yelling “what the f are you doing?” and “are you insane?” and “is that a tramp stamp on your back?” He called the cops, they took my goat, and from what I understand they gave it to the petting farm at the National Zoo.

Now, I happen to know that Noah eats meat, because of the time a cloth diaper blew off our clothesline onto the steaks he was grilling. Well, you know what, Noah? If you eat meat, you don’t get to freak out when you see someone slaughtering an animal. How do you think that meat ended up on your plate? Pretty much exactly like what you saw me just do.


Leash your dog, Yuppie (Part 3)

by D.J.

If you read this blog, you know Cate and I have been trying to find a more natural and less-commercial alternative to store-bought fat. Specifically, I’ve been trying to harvest wild animals for fat.

My recent attempt to bowhunt squirrels in Rock Creek Park was a mixed success. So this weekend I tried setting traps and wire snares in Malcolm X Park along paths that looked well-used by animals. And they were hugely successful – I trapped more than a dozen animals.

Malcom X Park

This is the game trail where I set my trap.

Unfortunately, all of the animals I caught were small dogs. (Well, almost all. I also caught one small jogger.) But you know what? If their owners would have kept them on leashes, that probably wouldn’t have happened, because not too many dogs on leashes got caught in the snares.

None of the dog owners saw it that way, though. They were too caught up in their “oh, my precious little furbaby, is your widdle paw hurt” selfishness to realize that if anything, they had wronged me, by letting their dogs trigger my snares. And I wasn’t even able to reset the snares – whenever I tried to, the yuppie dog owners at the park chased me off with thrown water bottles and clods of dirt. I hate to say it, but this kind of thing is why I’m a cat person.

(I mean, I caught a few cats in my snares too, but no one gave me a hard time about it.)

The Fat of the Land (Part 2)

by D.J.

Compound bow

$389.99 well spent! Because I learned an important lesson: bows are hard to use.

Since buying animal fat in bulk for soapmaking has proven to be an issue, today I went on my first expedition into Rock Creek Park to collect fat from wild animals. It wasn’t a huge success.

First, I probably had the wrong weapon. I’d bought a compound bow from a sporting goods store at the Pentagon City mall. People looked at me pretty funny when I was bringing the bow back home on the metro, so when I took it into Rock Creek Park, I wrapped it in a garbage bag and put a post-it note on the bag that said “lamp.” So far, so good.

Once I got into Rock Creek, things went downhill. First, I accidentally emerged from the woods into a picnic area hosting a family reunion. I was wearing a “ghillie suit” I’d also bought at the sporting goods store, and between the bow and the ghillie suit, people at the picnic freaked out and started running. Well, you know what, people? We’ve been hunting in the woods a lot longer than we’ve been having picnics! If you don’t want to see a hunter, maybe you should go have your picnic in the food court at the mall.

Ghillie suit

A relaxing day at the park.

Anyhow, I went back into the woods, and after about an hour I saw a squirrel. Now, here is the thing. Squirrels are really small. So I shot all my arrows at the squirrel, but didn’t hit him. I also wasn’t able to find any of the arrows, which I think ended up leaving the park and crossing 16th Street.

I decided the bow was probably useless for my purposes. But I didn’t want to just throw it away. So I “paid it forward” by giving the bow to some kids waiting at a bus stop. And of course their mothers threw a fit. Don’t even get me started on helicopter parents.

Let’s chew the fat about fat (Part 1)

by D.J. 

When we first got started in Slow Laundry, Cate and I decided to make our own soap. That’s because when you buy commercial detergent, you’re:

1) supporting the “soapocracy” of multinationals that control the soap industry,

2) exposing yourself to all sorts of artificial scents and dyes that mask the natural musky odor and yellow-brown color of real soap, and

3) depriving yourself of the soapmaking experience.

So we make our soap by hand, at home, from lye and animal fat.


This is the kind of top-quality fat you can’t find at chain grocery stores.

Given the amount of fat in the American diet, you’d think it would be easy to get your hands on some good, pure fat. But you’d be wrong. When we started out, we bought fat from the butcher at Safeway. But we started to have philosophical disagreements with the store.

First of all, when they’re cutting steaks, the Safeway butchers just dump all the “waste” fat together in one bucket. They don’t separate out grass-fed fat, hormone-free fat, locally-raised fat, etc.

Second, they refused to give us Safeway Reward points for our fat purchases.

So going forward, we’re no longer buying fat. We’re going to collect our own animal fat, from the wild. DC has urban sprawl for miles and miles, but there are still places to find wildlife – not just Rock Creek Park, but the National Mall, dumpsters and alleys after dark, and the zoo. So look out, chipmunks, rats, and giant pandas, because the Robertsons have clothes to clean.