Thursday, February 01, 2007

Do not read if you're a vegetarian.............

The other night there was a knock at the door at about 9pm, I was in alone and thought "who on earth is it at this time of night?" Well, when I opened the door (with Chrissie at my feet incase it was someone dodgy!!) I got a bit of a shock. It was our neighbour with a brace of duck for me, shot that day. Hmm, what do I do with these was my intial thought, but being the thankful neighbour that I am, I gratefully received them and accepted the instructions as to how to "deal" with them. "Don't bother plucking them, too many feathers, just slice them open and cut out the breast!" was the instruction - boy could I have done with Hugh F-W! I left them hanging at the front door overnight while I deliberated over my dilemma. Gregg wasn't home until this morning, so do I deal with them myself or be a wimp and leave them for him? I very pathetically opted for the latter!

So, Gregg got to it this afternoon, with me watching, he's skinned a mink before so kind of knew what he was doing! After a bit I got bored and decided that I was probably never going to have to do this kind of thing so I didn't really need to know, a bit pathetic, eh! I didn't think you'd really appreciate photos of him skinning the duck, so I'll spare you the gory details.
It has brought us back to a conversation we have constantly, one of our main reasons for moving to the sticks and having some land was so that we could be more self sufficient. We have just over an acre at the moment, enough to keep the chickens, geese and ducks, a large veggie plot and lots of room for growing flowers. We'd love to have a bit more land, ideally the field across the burn from us would be perfect. My dream is to Keep Tamworth pigs, breed them, some for selling and some for the freezer. I'd also like to keep sheep, again to sell, for the freezer and for their wool, ideally a rare breed too as we would then at least feel as if we were contributing to the preservation of our rare breeds. I quite fancy an Anglo Nubian goat too, but that's more for a pet and just for the fun of having a mad goat, she would of course have to be called Gertie!
So, we were sat at the table this evening enjoying our duck, although I have to say I did find it a bit weird eating meat that still had feathers and a head attached to it a few hours ago? Gregg asked me the question that he asks me all the time whenever I'm whittering on about this menagerie of animals that we're going to acquire "so, do you think you'd be able to take one of your little piggies or lambs down to the abatoir for slaughter and then enjoy a nice Sunday roast?". Hmm, I think I could, I would love to think that we will one day, but how will I actually feel when it comes to eating it? Only time will tell, I know for a fact though that if we do get all these animals I won't be able to use the excuse "but they're our pets", from the outset they will always be destined for the freezer, maybe that will help me get my head around it.
I'll leave you with a picture of our supper, pan fried duck breast on mashed potato, veg and a good dollop of leftover home made cranberry sauce! It was rather tasty...........


carolyn said...

I just know that I could never eat "someone" I had known, I know it's a cop out and I really don't think I should be allowed to eat meat if I'm not prepared to raise it or take responsibility for its' death. This is something that I have personally struggled with for rather too long and deep down I think that maybe being a vegetarian is the answer for me. Unfortunatly for me I live with 4 committed carnivores and once again I cop out. Oh well maybe one day!

Nonnie said...

That duck looks delicious.
I think the idea of keeping your own animals is fantastic. I'd love to do that one day. The idea of eating meat that has been raised happily and that you know where it comes from really appeals to me. My parents now live in the Cotswolds and have access to a lot of very local meat. The field next door to their house is full of cows and we regularly eat beef that we know we've probably been talking to over the fence some months previously. The best thing is that they're reared next door and taken to a very small abatoir in the next village. So much better than buying from the supermarket and not knowing where the meat has come from or how it's been treated.
I think if you do it, you really do have to have the attitude that they're not pets and don't give them names.
Having said all the above, I'm not sure I could have actually dealt with plucking the duck. I'm not surprised you let Greg do it!

Anonymous said...

Really don't think I could keep animals then take them to the slaughter house, just imagine those little faces looking at you.

Anyway, spring is here and what a gorgeous day it is. I always feel when the weather changes like this that it is definately the start of a new year. And what a year it is going to be. Myself and my partner are getting married, one set of my friends are also getting married and another set of friends are having a baby in the not too far off future. How exciting!! Any special events coming up for you this year?

Gigibird said...

Good for you.
I'm afraid I don't have a lot of time for people who can eat an M&S ready meal with a piece of anonymous meat who then don't want to eat an animal that had a decent life but looks like a Beatrice Potter character.
I am not a big meat eater, but I do think some animals are for meat and we should be able to eat them guilt free, but in return make sure by our purchasing choices that they had decent lives while they were living.
Sorry that sounds all serious!

Jane said...

One of the best things about living in rural Scotland is the game that "just appears" at the door.

Mind you I had one friend over for dinner who just couldn't bring herself to eat the stew once she discovered it was pheasant (she had been doing pretty fine up till then). I think that she is very much the M&S ready meal.

I love it when there are a few birds hanging up in the garage ready to pluck.

We'll be getting pigs at some point - probably 2008 realistically as the extension building this summer may mean that we have to camp in what will become the pig field - and I am already planning what to cook! My Mother is appalled.

Last year we got the heads from a friends 2 pigs and the brawn was absolutely fantastic.

The duck looked lovely.

Primrose Hill said...

Thank you all for commenting, I wasn't sure if I was doing the right thing posting about this as some people can feel very strongly about it all!

Primrose Hill said...

P.S. We have loads of friends having babies this year, mostly all second babies, and a christening next month that I'm really looking forward to. We have a bit of catching up to do on the baby front! Other than that nothing overly exciting!

Angel Jem said...

Keep the animals and then send them for butchering? Yes, unless you want to be a hypocrite. If you eat meat then it makes sense to be prepared to have a hand in all stages of its production... nobody thinks anything of growing vegetables for food, do they? well, keeping animals is just the same. I used to holiday on a farm where I would feed the little lambs first thing in the morning and sit down to feast on their cousin in the afternoon. It tasted delicious, and there was never any idea that the lamb wouldn't get eaten. go for it!

weirdbunny said...

The slope at the back of our house, we have named slaughter hill. The woodcutter kills the chickens, then he dangles them from the oak tree on slaughter hill, and the children with their nimble fingers pluck the feathers. I'm useless at it, to impataient and the children tell be off for accidentlly tearing the skin as I pluck them.
I'm with you on the pigs too, at the end of the day I view everything as food. The woodcutter s parents had pigs and goats when he was a child. He said the goats were a nightmare always getting out.

Betty Jo said...

My father taught me to hunt when I was younger. I believe hunting, which takes patience and a keen eye, developed my eye for photography. For that I'm very grateful. Yummmmy! Your dinner looks wonderful.