A while back we purchased four pregnant ewes to add to our little place. The idea was for the lambs to go into the freezer, you know, trying to be all self sufficient and that.
When the lambs were due, I kept a close eye on the girls just in case I had to help with any of the deliveries. I quite fancied the idea of telling “I had to pull a lamb in the wee hours of the morning” stories to the old farmers at the pub, to impress them with my farming skills. As it turned out, they were perfectly fine without me. We ended up with three sets of twins and one set of triplets. All born without my help. Funny that.
We did all the right things like marking them (a little bit late, they were a bit big – some of the lambs had to be crash tackled after escaping from the dodgy temporary yard we put together) but three of them didn’t make it. We think it was fluke from the wet winter last year. That still left six lambs. Four wethers for the freezer and two ewes to add to our breeding stock. We were just like real farmers!
The old fellas at the pub all told me “You won’t do it”. Yes I will. That’s what we have them for. Well not me myself, of course. The man about the house volunteered to do the deed, he grew up on farms having to help with all that messy stuff but we would need help with the butchering part. We also had to think about digging a big enough hole for the gross bits, like the guts and stuff.
I did a bit of asking around and found someone who could do the lot. From the slaughtering to the butchering. Including the messy stuff. Uncle Noel* was really easy going and a super nice guy. All we had to do was drop the lambs off in his yards and send a text letting him know they were there. He would contact us when they were ready to pick up.
The day came to deliver the little blokes. I filled a bucket of chaff and coaxed them all into the yards. They almost ate from my hand. They are so trusting. We separated the boys from the girls and loaded them into the back of the ute. It was then, looking into their cute little faces that I realised that maybe just maybe I couldn’t have helped the man about the house do the deed here. Could I have pulled the trigger (I couldn’t really because we don’t have a gun – it would be more like could I have slit their throats?)? I don’t think so. But I could help load them up, drive them to Uncle Noel’s and unload them in the yards. Yep. I could and I did. With a bit of a guilty pang and a reminder to myself that this is why we have them.
They were ready four days later. The man about the house went out to help bag them up into meal size portions. Well so I thought. What really happened was that he helped cut them up and load them into eskies and brought them home. I totally thought all I would have to do is stack the brand new freezer. Nope. It was my job to bag them. I don’t think I have ever seen so much meat. Not since a tour of the Blayney Abbatior in primary school anyhow. Two hours later we were squeezing the dog bones into the beer fridge.
I was a bit uncomfortable when I thought too much about these animals, which I watched falling out of their mothers all slimy and tiny, being sent to slaughter so my family and friends could eat them, but I like meat. I buy it and I eat it. I will always eat meat. Isn’t it better that I know that the lambs had a nice, stress free life? This is after all what they were born for.
Anyhow, they taste amazing! (I should probably stop referring to our meat as ‘they’.) The racks are absolutely amazing cooked with lemon and thyme, served with roasted home grown pumpkin and rocket salad. The shoulders slow roasted with carrots, garlic, onion and red wine…. (do I sound like a posh foody?)
Could you kill your own meat? What if you couldn’t eat meat unless you killed it yourself? I hope I could but I wouldn’t bet my next lamb chop on it. I think there would be a hell of a lot more vegetarians in the world if that was the case and I might just be one of them.
*Uncle Noel is not really my uncle and his name isn’t Noel.