We like to kill our own meat for home consumption as much as possible. That way we can be sure that the animal has been grass fed, had no harmful chemicals, treated gently for whole of life, and is killed humanely. ( We stun the sheep with a bullet in a comparatively stress free situation, before cutting its throat). There is also pleasure in being able to eat meat that has been born and raised on our farm, and offers a good opportunity to check the quality, as these are the animals we sell to others to eat, and are the progeny of our rams. We can see if they are carrying too much fat, if the livers are healthy, and that the carcase yield is up to scratch.
I love the challenge of cooking all of the animal, but I always seem to fail on what to do with the flaps or lamb breast as I heard them called on "Masterchef" the other night. The easy option is to feed them to the working dogs, but there must be wonderful tasty things to make with them. I have set myself the challenge of finding ten great ways to prepare them before we kill the next sheep, so if anyone has any great recipies let me know.
We have brought home the last of our sheep from "Deeban" the property on the lake near Cooma. We were running a mob there in an arrangement with the owner but the property has been sold and another country dream has ended. The environment is very harsh there with very cold snowy winters and mainly native pasture, the only shelter being rocky outcrops. The Dorpers adapted and managed to do very well there, producing and raising plenty of meaty lambs.
Although our arrangement ended harmoniously, having sheep on someone elses property has taught us some valuable lessons. Though we managed to bring all our sheep home, we have realised the importance of a clear agreement with all expectations written down, both parties knowing exactly what is required of the other. Also the need to make sure that all documents relating to ownership of the sheep are carefully maintained and regular stock counts are done. It would have been very easy for a dishonest person to steal and sell stock, and the Stock agent should be informed of the way in which proceeds of sales are to be split. Agents do not seem to be fussy about the origins of same.
You Tube video of two of Meg's pups from her first litter at their first herding school. For young dogs they show a great deal of promise.
On the new block there is a section of boundary fence that is just plain wire which was all fine until we brought home some sheep that had been on agistment. Then the trouble started and these sheep started to push through into the neighbours places. Then they taught the well behaved sheep the drill and at one stage we found most of the stud living very comfortably in the neighbours house paddock, lounging under his pine trees and eating his grass.
So after meeting all the neighbours and agreeing we should have a valley bbq. It is time to fence. Fortunately the plain wire fence is in good condition and we only need to cut away any overhanging trees and then roll out the hinge joint. It takes a little while to attach the wire but much faster than starting a fence from scratch. The biggest problem with keeping the fences sound around here is the wombats. They have the attitude that they were here first and we are just annoying johnny come lately types getting in their way. So they push up the fences and make doorways that the sheep then use.
After years of trying to grow vegetables in a harsh climate where we get late and early frosts and the odd fall of snow (nothing compared to Europe or USA but tough for us) we have decided the solution is a green house. The plan is that it will extend our growing season and improve our success. So we bought our green house and it came in a flat pack with a dandy little book of line drawings that were the instructions and Martin set about getting it built. It turned out to one of those cunning structures that are designed to fall over at the drop of a hat until the last piece is in place to give it strength and stability.
It might take the guys at the factory 5 hours to build but it took us the best part of two days to get it all together. Then on the night it was finished and as we lay in our bed with a little rain on the roof and visions of tomatoes dancing in our heads, the wind blew it off the stand , on to its side popping out panels, finally turning it upsidedown and onto the fence. What a mess. It looked like no more greenhouse. Then on the ET day our good friends helped lift it back on the stand, put in a heap of tiedowns and began to fit the panels back, hope retured that we may have a green house after all. Now after more days of carefully moving pieces and straightening bits it is back together and secured every which way. We are still regarding it with some suspicion and wonder what will happen next time it blows, but for now all is well.