Monday 10 December 2012

Ignatius G Victualler

This then is the second and final post which should be avoided by anyone who thinks the detail around slaughter and butchery of the late lambs is "too much information". If you don't want to know about such things, look away now. Normal service and happy animal stories will resume with the next post.

"Ignatius Gannon (Victualler); Beef Mutton and Lamb as in Season. None but the best quality stocked". So says his paperwork and we can vouch for the fact that Ignatius G is an excellent butcher, a small local business in Castlerea thriving and surviving despite being almost opposite the SuperValu Supermarket. He is a tall, strong bloke with brawny arms, grey hair, a white shop-coat well smeared with the expected gore and a ready smile and jokey wit. He was also very good to us 'newbies', helped us a lot through the process and answered all my myriad questions as we went along. His prices also compare very favourably with the Supermarket prices, so that, in this exercise, we have used his as our estimate of the carcass's worth even though it would have looked even better at SuperValu rates.

Readers will know that we have already had back the 'offal' last Monday (hearts, livers and kidneys) but the main carcasses have to hang for a week, so we were back today to collect the main event and 'supervise' the cutting up - we had to choose, for example, whether we wanted shoulder joints or the much more popular (locally) gigot chops. We did. You then have to choose how big to leave the 'shoulders' - how far up the rib cage do you want the 'chopping' (for shoulder chops) to come before you stay stop, and keep the rest of the shoulder intact.

Ignatius and his 'oppo' and slaughterman of 34 years, Joe set to work sawing and cleavering and in this case they agreed to bag it up as they went along as if it was meat for sale, so that we could have all the bits labelled and we could know the price per kilo of the bits (from €9/kilo for breast meat and neck, through €11 for leg, €12 for cutlets, €13.50 for shoulder and up to €17/kilo for loin chops; this comparing to €21/kilo we have seen in Supervalu. The labels also showed the final price of the bag, so for example, a shoulder might be €32.83, 'half legs' up to about €20 and bags of 4 loin chops around €7. The output from one animal was then loaded into a tough white dustbin liner so that we could work out some numbers per animal. They charge, incidentally, €30 per animal for the slaughter and butchery though we gave them a bit of a tip too for being so brilliant.

So, having completed our other shopping we headed home with the little Fiat very well loaded down with meat. We excluded all the animals from the living room and sorted all this booty out on the Dining Room table. We were able to tap all the numbers into a spreadsheet (I can hear anyone who knows me muttering "Typical!" at this point. From this we know that for example....

1) Our three girls had carcass weights of between 17 and 18.2 kg respectively
2) The total weight of meat (excluding offal) was 52.9 kg
3) The carcasses would have cost us €213, €218 and €227 over the counter, a total of €659.24
4) Our most expensive cut is a 2.56 kg shoulder at €34.56
5) A 6 foot tall, €400 freezer will just about fit three carcasses of this size (which was a relief).

In terms of finances and 'did we make a profit' the following figures might be interesting. The sheep originally, back in September, cost €80 each. They cost €44 in supplementary feed (the grass was free as we have not yet had to worry about cultivation or fertilizer!), we paid Kenny €20 diesel for haulage to the butcher and paid €100 for the slaughter and butchery, total inputs €404.

The meat was worth €659.24 as we only used Ignatius's prices (we could have quoted Supermarket prices and we could almost have said they were organic - Heaven KNOWS how much organic lamb is worth - our grass has had no chemicals applied and these ladies had no growth promoters or other unnecessary drugs, only our bought in feed was not organic, and we cannot answer for the first 5 months of their lives. We are estimating €9.75 for the 'offal' so our outputs are €668.99, so effectively we made a profit of €264.99 which makes a nice contribution to the €600 fence we had to erect around the paddock. Mentally we were depreciating this over ten years but at this rate it's more like 3 years!. Our own man hours are not charged as we had so much fun doing this. It's been a blast and a lovely bit of learning to be small holders. Yes, we had to do the sad slaughter bit at the end, but that comes with the territory and we coped OK; we know how much love, respect, care, good food and shelter had gone into these animals and we chose our butcher with care and you can't say that if you buy stuff you've not reared and kept yourself.

Thanks to everyone who had a hand in this, especially our sheep mentor, Kenny O'C (who pronounced our results as "mighty"), to our small-holdering mentors, Anne and Simon (who found us the butcher and reassured us that we were getting good growth rates) and to Ignatius and Joe, the heroes of this particular post.

So, what's for supper then? That'll be chicken and chips because we had some to use up!


Mr Silverwood said...

Cool, I am impressed, they look very nice

Anne Wilson said...

I'm glad that you are pleased with them. As for prices I don't know how much a whole lamb would cost from a butcher, bagged and ready for the freezer, but a whole Organic lamb butchered and ready to go is nine euros a kg direct from the farm. The factory price for Organic lamb is five euros a kg. That is what the 'Goodheardsman' the Organic factory down in Tipp pay to Organic farmers.