Monday, 9 December 2013

Look Away Now

Another of those meat-based posts where I advise any of my readers who are not comfortable with the more intimate side of producing meat from livestock to 'look away now'.  Today was the day we had to head for the butcher's shop of Ignatius G and see our lamb carcasses cut up for the freezer. We watch, chat and choose cutting styles as appropriate; do you prefer the gigot chops and small shoulder, or the full shoulder? Do you prefer the rack of ribs cut into individual chops or left intact and so on. We love this stage - it has us feeling like 'proper' meat producers, not just someone who keeps a few chickens.

In this case we had done 5 sheep, 2 for our own freezers, one for Carolyn of the mini-horses and more recent half pig, one for the Silverwoods and one for Sparks. Ignatius and his 'oppo', Joe are good enough to cut each carcass up and bag it separately in tough white "bin liners" so that you can get it home assuming you can lift it into the car!

We had in our little flock, lambs all from the same father (sire), a Beltex ram, but we had ram lambs and ewe lambs from three different Mums (dams) and our sheep-man Kenny had asked us to get weights by sex and breed. We'd been expecting heavy weights because the lambs had been ready since October but Kenny had been sidelined by a broken collar bone; these babies had stayed on our nice grass and received their kg a day of Lamb Creep Crunch (a mix of cereals, molasses and minerals).

These guys had indeed gone way way over the weights Ignatius would buy for his shop, but that wasn't a problem for our home use. The 2 ram lambs in particular (both out of Suffolk Down ewes) had got up to 30.7 and 32.2 kg carcass weights (67.5 and 70.9 lbs). Ignatius put a standard leg joint on his scales at the shop price per kg and he would have had to ask €60 for it! Nobody would buy one that big he said. The ewe lambs were not quite that heavy. The two out of Galway mothers weighed 24.6 and 28.3 kg (54.1 and 62.3 lbs) and Dora the Explorer, out of the Texel ewe weighed 25.7 kg (56.6 lbs). Grand total 141 kg of meat or 311 lbs. We have been able to take more weight of meat from this year's two carcasses (for us) at 56 kg, than we got off the three last year (52.9 kg). Respect to Kenny for his choice of the Beltex sire for this year's breeding, rather than the Jacob's 2012 tup.

You will recall that we had already collected the offal (tongues, kidneys, hearts, livers and a lung for the haggis) the day after slaughter. Now we just had the job of sorting and bagging our own meat for the freezer and distributing the rest. Sparks raced down in his car from Dublin to collect his and stayed for a bacon butty, bite of pie and some cold roast pork and salad. We have dropped Carolyn's round to her house tonight and tomorrow we will be delivering the Silverwoods' bag to them. It's all go.

Not much else happening round here but tonight there is a minor hiatus as one of the Guinea Fowl has gone AWOL. At 16:30 tonight he/she managed to get lost between me turfing them out of the goose house where they had decided to roost for the night, and them finding the correct (chicken) house about ten feet away. When I came back having shepherded my geese home, there was only one in the chicken house and, search as we might with torches, looking up in trees etc, we can find no trace and they are, amazingly, not kicking up the usual ruckus at being separated. We've shut everyone down now without the missing Guinea. We are just hoping that as tomorrow dawns, the safe, sound, warm, dry, outdoor roosted, "lost sheep" will creep back into the fold for a happy re-union. I'll let you know.


Matt Care said...

I should just quickly say that Henry and Min are safely re-united. It seems that one shot into the yard when evicted from the goose house and nipped in through the pop hole of the chicken house. The other, unseen by me, may have nipped straight along the goose house floor and hid under the bike, cement mixer and other rubbish parked in there. The lack of 'ruckus' was presumably because each knew the other was there, safe, but just kept quiet about it. Funny little things, Guinea Fowl.

Mr Silverwood said...

Catching up now with the posts on here, and must say the lamb is fantastic, everyone in the Silverwoods have now tried it and it has got the thumbs up.