Friday, 13 December 2013

Henry and Min Re-United

In a recent post I might have worried you by finishing with a story that one of Henry or Min had gone AWOL at 'bed time' and we'd been out hunting with torches. Well, next morning  the pair were happily and noisily reunited. The missing bird had run for cover into the collection of bikes, cement mixer and other junk in the goose end of that building and kept his/her head down and kept quiet. That explains why the other bird was so contented to be up on the perch alone and also stayed quiet - he/she was presumably well aware of where the hidden bird was keeping quiet. In the morning they just had to each find their separate way to the yard and give each other a load of telling off. Not so silly after all.

Haggis mixture
In the kitchen we wind steadily on towards Christmas and even beyond. Liz converts a huge quantity of lamb "trimmings" (bits like the breast meat which the butcher would normally cut away and discard) and offal (including this year the lung which we specifically asked Ignatius to keep for us for this purpose), into home made haggis mixture. We love our haggis in this family and last year Liz found a recipe where you bake the mix in a baking tray instead of stuffing it into a piece of gut or sheep's stomach, or some kind of plastic 'cover' and it was easily the best haggis we had ever eaten. This probably because it was made with real ingredients instead of 'commercial' heaven knows what, so it is bagless haggis for us in 2014 too.

Hubbard hen at 19 weeks
Our two remaining 'Hubbard' chickens have amazed us over the last month by filling out from the rangey, gangly, big-legged adolescent shaped birds of October, to squared off, filled out, solid chicken-shaped birds now. They are 19 weeks old at this stage so they are approaching the standard 'Point of Lay' age where you'd normally buy them if you wanted them as laying birds, but these ladies are of a fast growing meat breed which the commercial boys would normally be 'finishing' at 100 days or so. Mentor Anne is keeping 2 of hers round to a fully mature age and is going to try a bit of breeding with a La Bresse rooster.

White Hubbard hen
Ours are still here for looser and more "happy chance" reasons. We had gone through a phase of 'harvesting' them, especially the roosters which were getting troublesome, and were finding them dead easy to catch because of their habit of gathering round my feet as I scooped feed from the feed bins, especially if it was raining outside. With just 2 to go, I wanted to 'do' these on the same day so that neither would be left lonely. I never got that chance and then the weather dried up and they stopped doing the under-foot thing. Also, we now had 4 birds in the freezer and needed the space for the lambs, so these two got a stay of execution and are still with us. A living larder, maybe, or perhaps we will see how they do as egg laying birds.

We've now done the run down to Silverwoods, so the lamb is all distributed to its final users. The Silverwoods have pronounced it excellent and, being as loopy as we are, found this lovely piece of lamb based 'tat' during their recent holiday in Bulgaria and thought of us. Fine, elegant tableware, I think you will agree, fit to grace the most elegant Christmas table. We have no idea why the lambs depicted are cuddling tiny teddy bears. Our lambs never had them. Perhaps it is an animal welfare thing?

Castlerea prize draw sign

We finally came to the point here where there was no longer any escaping a job which I'd been putting off and rather dreading, that of slaughtering the young geese for the Christmas table. These geese are now 6 months old and full adult size. Well, we girded our loins and got on with the job this morning with Liz, for her first time, actually getting involved and in (watching) at the kill. It went well, better than I had feared, and the boys (we are sure both these are ganders) met their end quickly, cleanly and with as much respect and as little distress as we like to ensure and they are now hanging in the Tígín awaiting the plucking and dressing job tomorrow. The relief is immense - we are now pretty much through the autumn slaughtering 'campaign' which we appreciate we have to do but cannot claim to enjoy.

There is just the one more goose to 'go', but this is our current parent bird 'Gander', he of the genetic wry-tail abnormality which he is sadly too able to pass on to his sons and daughters, so the plan is to swap him out with an unrelated gander called George who currently lives down the lane with Carolyn of the mini-horses. We get George and we deliver Gander to them but we are currently not sure whether we need to deliver him alive or whether he will be collected and despatched by K-Dub.

Finally today, we loved this Prize Draw sign seen in Castlerea (picture above) where 1st Prize is a Charolais heifer. She looks a lovely big girl from the pictures we have seen and is worth about €1000. You have the option of taking her home if you win, or immediately selling her at the Mart and going home with your money. We were laughing about what we'd do if suddenly presented with a strapping young female beef-cow. We'd have to give it to John Deere Bob to look after. We are not set up for cows' we don't even have a cattle herd number.

1 comment:

anne wilson said...

Pleased to hear that Henry and Min fowl are reunited, always a worry when birds go AWOL.