I’m a carnivore

I was listening to CBC this morning as I drank my coffee. Michael Enright had a feature on a woman who was charged with criminal mischief for giving pigs water in a transport truck as they were parked in 30 degree heat outside the slaughter plant. Her case has garnered a lot of publicity around the world and has focused attention on the rights of animals we not only consume but use to produce eggs and milk. Listen here: http://www.cbc.ca/1.3497518 

As one person interviewed said, if the semi was filled with golden retrievers, people would be outraged at their treatment but because it was “only” pigs, future bacon and pork chops, who really cares. Canada has one of the poorest animal rights records of any of the first world nations, far behind those in Europe. But we also have cheap food. One farmer said, “don’t expect me to subsidize your conscience. If you want better treatment for animals then you have to pay for it”. Battery hens, crowded four or five to a small cage, go blind from the ammonia fumes caused by the build up of droppings in their barns. Everything is automated as humans are unable to stay for any period of time in that toxic environment. Before they go blind the hens retain enough vision to learn how to find the food and water–three months in they can no longer see and they are culled in a year, if they live that long, as egg production drops. My own hens have lived for years. They have room to move, chase bugs, dust bath, lay in the sun and roost beside their best friend (yes, they do have buddies they prefer).  I like to eat eggs. I like to eat chicken. And I choose to ethically butcher the birds I have fed and watered and cared for because I want quality food with flavour. It’s not easy. It’s all about respect and value.

I learned many things the hard way. Every time I see a truck loaded with animals on the highway, pigs or sheep or cattle, my mind goes back to a goat I shipped many years ago. She was an older goat. I called her Grandma. She came bred, bought with several others as her previous owner basically gave her to me. I kept her a few years but it became obvious she was too old to breed anymore and I didn’t want to keep her. I was shipping lambs and in a spur of the moment decision decided to put Grandma on the truck too. It was cold, -25/30, and she was cold. I thought she would be fine on the semi packed in with the lambs. But as I drove away I felt like I has made a mistake. A few days later the shipper called and said she had died on the truck but I would be paid as I had insurance on the stock. I asked if the goats got the worst place on the truck and the woman on the phone said, “the truck is inspected and approved to haul stock blah blah blah”.  I felt so guilty and ashamed. I have never shipped an older animal since. I have shot a few but I think that is so much more humane than sending them out into an unfamiliar situation. And in the summer, with the trailers loaded with two or three levels of animals, how does air circulate to animals in the centre? Truckers are allowed to haul stock for 18 hours or more with no food or water. So this woman gave a pig some water. In 30 degree weather. If it was a dog in a car in a parking lot she would have a responsibility to aide the dog. Breaking a window if necessary and certainly without facing criminal charges.  

I raise my own meat as much as possible. Not everyone is able to do this but ethically raised food is available though not cheap. It is market driven and no one will sell what people won’t buy. 

Tonight for supper I cooked a moose roast my nephew gave me. He is a hunter and feeds his family wild meat. A few years ago I was able to help him hang a moose with my tractor so he could gut and clean it.  

 They are huge animals and the meat is extremely high quality. I never did get a taste for venison but moose and elk are excellent.  

 First I seared the roast in bacon drippings. Then I carved up four yellow onions and melted them a little in the pan.  

   
Carrots for sweetness, a few cups of broth and then low and slow, 300 degrees for most of the day, turning it over every hour or so. It pretty well carved itself.  

   
  Garden potatoes, garden beets and carrots, with horseradish. I had seconds. Very tasty moose. And gingerbread pudding for dessert.  

 Hope you all had a good weekend. Back to work tomorrow. 

The wheels on the bus go round and round…

Just when we thought winter was over…nope.     

   Mother Nature is bi-polar. It’s winter again with days and days of freezing rain, sleet and snow, on top of the wet muddy roads of last week. 

Last Monday one of my bus parents texted to warn me that some of my roads might be flooding.  Actually, that ALL my roads were flooding and I should take detours. I called the family that actually lived on the first road and they said no, they were just over it that afternoon and it was still fine. Monday morning I had to cross this.  

  

 Actually, I took this picture in the afternoon. It wasn’t quite as bad in the morning, about ten inches of fast flowing water. This was much worse. But scary anyway. A half ton crossed just before me so I went across too. No kids on and the bus is a lot heavier than a truck. But I went back by a different route. 

Then Tuesday another dad called to say his road was flooded out and he would take his child to school the back way. But Thursday he called again to say everything was frozen and I could cross safely. He said he’d had the tractor down there and pushed a big chunk of ice off the road. Well he wasn’t exaggerating. It was a big chunk of ice, about 18 inches thick and about 15′ x 15′ .   

  

  

 Looked like the slab floor of a garage. The roads have been wet and sloppy, icy and snowy, alternating daily. That’s just the grids. The highway has pretty well been a skating rink every day. The approach into the farm was wet and rutted,  

 then the neighbour came after the last snow and plowed it all off to the side. He’s such a good neighbour.

It’s been quite cold the last few days. A couple of girls at the school on Friday walked by my bus and stopped, looking at something on the tire. Oh great I thought. Now what!?!  So I got out and the frozen slush had spun off the tires making such a pretty pattern.  

  

  

 I had to take a picture.

 I worked a hockey game last night and again this morning early two days of rink food. Blech!! Everything deep fried… So I made rabbit loins tonight.  

 Dipped in seasoned flour, egg then Panko bread crumbs.  

 Fried in butter,  with rice, sweet garden peas and a crunchy pepper.  

 I cut one in half so you could see how beautiful the meat is. Hit the spot. Now a pot of tea, a  book, and Randy Bachman on the radio as I’m all alone tonight. Aidan has gone to Edmonton with her dad to see her favorite comedian as her birthday present. Happiness is 😊

Have you hugged your pig today?

Last weekend we bit the bullet and decided it was the day to trim piggies feet. First we had to anesthetize the pig. I couldn’t find the same beer we used last time so I found another over proof bottle.  

 Suitably named “la fin du monde” — the end of the world !!  Piggy drank most of it but I could tell she wasn’t quite as enthusiastic as she was last time. When she waddled off she certainly wasn’t bobbing and weaving as she had done previously. She headed for the barn where we had already blocked the doorway to her bedroom. We closed her in hoping she might lay down and snooze but ten minutes later she really hadn’t started to relax. Aidan and I looked at each other, took deep breaths and said, “let’s do it”.   I had my clippers, the pail and a scarf to wrap around her eyes if necessary. But the pail came in handy again. We backed her into a corner with Aidan holding the business end, we flipped her, and Aidan slid into a semi sitting/leaning position on the bales with piggy on her back, rather exposed, and all four feet in the air.  

 Perfect. The sun was shining in and I could see everything. Her feet are so over grown, poor piggy.  

   
 
 I snipped and snipped till they were as short as they were going to get. So much nicer being able to see what I was doing. We kept the pail on her head to keep noise down but apart from one hissy fit she really didn’t struggle or scream. Then once it was all over we rolled her back o to her feet and gave her a cookie or three. She was just fine.  

 She toodled off to the manure pile to root thru the old chicken bedding for lost kernels of grain. Her feet were beautiful.  

   
Then we cleaned the small chicken coop and put the new nest boxes in. The little silkie hens are all going broody as are a few of the big hens.  

 We will set eggs under them in the middle of April for first week of May babies. This small coop is our brooder house. We’ll leave the moms to look after the babies as they can do it do much better than we can. Then we trimmed the goats feet. I was convinced it was late afternoon when we got back in the house but no, it was just after 12.  

 So we had little frittatas (with cherry tomatoes and carrot cake jam toast) for lunch and watched another British police show about missing people called “Chasing Shadows “. It was very good we thought, but they only made one season so obviously no one else liked it. All in all, a good day. 

First day of spring 

Yes I know it officially doesn’t come till later this month but I heard and saw multiple flocks of geese flying over. I didn’t really pay attention to the first few but then a group of about six flew right over my head and as I looked up I thought “OMG the geese are back!!!!”

So today was the day. Beautiful, sunny, warm, calm day for doing roosters. I set pretty well everything up yesterday, including digging a load of firewood out of the snow and hauling it to the back in the sleigh. I got the fire started, set up the garbage cans, put a new blade in my knife, and started. There were ten roosters, some of them were a respectable size and a couple of road runners. I started about 11 and finished around four. It was hot and sunny in the back, so calm and everyone was enjoying the sun. I had no time to take pictures but I did get a couple of my work station while the water was heating up.  

 This was my gutting station. Nice and warm up along the fence.  

 And this the fire pit with the pot of scalding water. I had a thermometer clipped to the side and used a shovel full of snow to cool the temp down or a handful of twigs to raise it up. Works like a charm. My plucking pail and killing cone were on the outside of the fence but you don’t need to see that. But even with all the snow in the way it was a pretty efficient set up. I brought the two smallest birds inside to chill in the fridge. I just didn’t have enough oomph left to cut them up tonight. They are going on the BBQ tomorrow. The rest may be headed here: 

 I also got two lovely bags of liver. Chicken livers are my favorite closely followed by rabbit. My favorite meal when I was a kid was chicken liver fried with onion, rice, and sweet green peas. We had it quite often, once a week or so. I never got tired of it. My kids never got the taste for liver. I guess I just never served it enough when they were little. I was always scared of cooking it. I always just went home and had mom cook it but when I started raising my own chickens I began cooking it for myself.  

 First you cook sliced onions till tender crisp. Push them off to the side and throw in the liver. I cook this in saved bacon drippings. Does anyone else have a little pot of bacon drippings for frying ?  So much flavour in there. Then the only seasoning I use is a healthy sploosh of soy sauce. Mix it all together. Don’t over cook it!!

 Serve with rice and sweet buttery garden peas. Such a great meal.  

 The rest of the birds are resting in a brine bath out in the barn. I’ll clean them up on Monday. Hurray no school so I have the day off.  Hope everyone enjoyed the day whatever you did 😊.