Thursday, 26 August 2010

The ongoing meat thing

Being bold, having recent memory of trying to eat the deceased young cockerel, done unto death by Hubs because of the dissent in The Land of The Chicken Hut, which led to an unhappy meal time with both of us prodding the meat round the plate trying to pluck up courage to eat the cockerel's cooked remains, I decided to keep the meat momentum up by plunging my hands into the freezer a couple of days ago, and coming up with two hefty packages labelled '4' and '3'. '4' is the ram, '3' is one of the lambs, only they were really young adults and not the fluffy, prancy little darlings that one normally associates with the word 'lamb'. Anyway, a bit of the ram and a bit of a youngster headed towards the newly bought fridge (thankyou to Hubs who purchased said item at the weekend. Whooppppeee! No more traipsing to and fro the kitchen caravan to use the abysmally small camping fridge!) 

Ram was cooked yesterday, with intent to feed our dogs thinking that he would be a bit on the tough side, him being not very young. And I didn't mind that because in my mind I remembered him the night before he became deceased, sniffing the bum of one of his ladies, then getting himself hoisted up on board her, having been servicing all his girls of late. And possibly his daughters as well, which is why he had to go. If he had stayed, then they would have had to go. Incest is not condusive to the overall well being of the flock. The same goes for the young males as well. They would have tried to get on board their mums and sisters. Having a talk to them to explain the protocol of social correctness, I think, would have been a waste of time to their ears!

Anyway, one piece of ram into the pot, and cooked. Several hours later, and wow! Out came the tenderest piece of meat. Shame it was designated for Bools and Gus, but then they are part of the family so need to be fed with good food as well. I don't believe in only giving them dried dog food. I think that mucks up their intestines. And canned dog food has them blasting a hell of a wind from their backsides, such that one cannot imagine what has actually gone into the contents of the can. So despite the cost, Bools has always had meat, and so does Gus since he came here. 

They loved their dinner. And I felt love in my heart for the ram, and kept the picture of him frolicking with his girls as I cut the chunk of cooked meat up. 
This is the life of living on a small farm. 

Today, it was the turn of the youngster. Into the pot, after being marinaded over night because Hubs said I should marinade the meat. Two hours later, and all done. 

Now I have a problem. I don't seem to have a picture in my head of that lamb doing frolicky things. Indeed, I don't know which of the lambs '3' is, because they all looked the same both alive and deceased. There was no character trait which made one stand out from the rest. And I need a picture in my head to justify the progression from field to plate. Hubs doesn't. He can't wait to wade into his plate of food. But I had a tiny morsel of the ram, and it was OK. Not enough for me to then wade my way through a pile of his meat, but the tiny morsel was OK to handle and eat. Because I knew he had fun just before his end. 

And I don't want to seem maudling, or difficult, or silly. It is just that when one feeds, then recycles one's animals, after having been conditioned to getting meat from a supermarket shelf for years, well, it does take some adjustment. Which I am doing. Step by step. 

Smallholding, or small farm living is the best of lives to live but one has to learn new ways, create new habits of thought, grapple with many new activities, not mind that one's hands and fingernails no longer look pristine, or that one's clothes do not seem to stay clean for very long because there is always something or someone wanting to leave their mark on you. And the tiredness which accompanies this steep new learning curve. That, too, can be draining. 

But it is all worth it. I only have to flick my mind back to the lifestyle I had in the UK, with its high levels of comfort zones, all of which were contributing to a life tiredness which I left on the shores of the UK. I might be tired sometimes, but I have life energy. And at 63 years of age, that is the best blessing I could ever had.

So if you are thinking of heading off into other directions in  your life: do it! You might not be watching your recycled bit of sheep bubble away in a pot on your cooker, but your new direction might require of you some steep learning curves as well. This is good. Because it takes you away from the stuckness which bogs down other people, who are too afraid to break the day to day cycle of their lives and therefore become old before their time.

I'm going to be old someday. When I am 104. Meanwhile, I have to go put that piece of lamb in the oven to give it a bit of a roasting.


Diane said...

Vera if the ram was tender direct to the freezer then hanging may not have been any benefit to you. I hope all the rest is equally as tender. Yes we did have quite a big place in Rhodesia, but the meat just hung in the coolest barn we had with a light cloth over it. We did not kill that much as we had a dairy herd and horse racing stables. It was a long day!

I am 4 years ahead of you, gosh I am so glad that we have made the move though having a younger husband and waiting for him to retire has its disadvantages:( Diane

French Fancy... said...

Oh you write so well about this difficult thing - the slaughtering and eating of creatures we have owned. It's not for everyone but I do salute you for managing to do it so well.

So the ram was ramming until his end - I bet many males would be content if it were so for them

Vera said...

Diane: How hard for you to have to wait until your husband retires. Living between here and the UK must be very wearing for you both.

FF: Hi. Hope you are well, and the move is going OK. I liked the ' ram was ramming until his end'. And I agree with you that if this were the case with most males that they would pass over with a smile on their lips!

Land of shimp said...

Oh, I can help you with this! 3 was the one that said "Baaa. Baaa baaa baa. Baaaaaaa!" on at least one occasion. I have the image just burned into my brain, and I'm positive it was 3. Ahem.

Fun with foodstuffs. Vera, I do think we have a very impersonal relationship to our food, at least, as I live now. I journey to the grocery store, and by packages of meat at Whole Foods (where I am assured that the chickens led nice lives, were treated kindly and soothed with sachets of lavender prior to shuffling off the fowl coil...or something like that...whatever "ethically produced" actually means). I don't think you're being maudlin at all.

I think I'd likely spend the first year tearfully eating carrots and eschewing eating all things I had met.

But yours is the more honest approach, and the fact is, most of us just don't give much thought to where our food comes from, at all.

I'm reminded of James Herriot relating the story of a Yorkshire farmer, during the seasonal pig killings. He always got up his nerve to do the family pig to death, and would sit weeping his way through sausages, "I loved the pig! He was a Christian, he was! A Christian!"

So, take heart, at least you're doing better than the weeping dalesman and scads better than the me :-)

Fun post. The familial relations of sheep making me a lot more comfortable with the concept of eating 3. After all, 3 would have simply grownup to engage in appalling practices anyway.