"We must achieve the character and acquire the skills to live much poorer than we do. We must waste less. We must do more for ourselves and for each other. It is either that or continue merely to think and talk about changes that we are inviting catastrophe to make. The great obstacle is simply this: the conviction that we cannot change because we are dependant on what is wrong. But that is the addict's excuse, and we know that it will not do."
—Wendell Berry

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Winter is here

We have just come out of four weeks of absolutely horrible weather, mud and cold constant drizzle. It was a very unseasonal rain. Probably making up for the almost non existent wet season this year. Finally it is dry and our beautiful blue sky weather has returned. Not as cold as most years. Certainly no danger at all of frost yet, we expect a dozen or so frosts most years.
We have been busy on the Cloud farm. We killed Boris the steer a fortnight ago. As I still don't have the frame up so I can hoist a carcasse, I had a mobile butcher come out to do the slaughter. When dealing with this much valuable meat it pays to do it properly.
Butchering in the mud. The hoist on his truck allows the carcasse to be lifted.
I aged the quarters in the cold room at four degrees for a fortnight. It is customary in this country to only age for a week but I prefer the European method of a longer hanging time for a much more tender meat. We began cutting the meat into the various cuts yesterday. The beef is rich and even grained with a small amount of marbling throughout. I cooked a small rump roast last night and I can safely say it was the most tender and flavourful roast I have ever eaten. Today I will cut up the front quarters and mince the scrap pieces. We will then have a freezer full of prime beef that should last us for the next year.
We have also emptied out the poultry from the fatteners pen. Five Pekin ducks, three roosters and one turkey. I finally got to try out the tub plucker I made and it performed very well indeed.

Having said that I will put a larger motor on it before future use. It is modelled on the Whizbang chicken plucker. The plucker takes the drudgery out of killing large numbers of birds in one go. To use it you simply dunk your killed bird into scalding water until the feathers are loosened and then drop it into the spinning plucker. The bottom plate spins and the feathers are essentially wiped off by the rubber fingers. In about fifteen seconds you will have a completely naked bird. What I really like is that it removed all of the downy under layer on ducks which previously I had to burn off. I think our Most-wonderful-and-long-suffering-neighbours were once again disturbed by my maniacal mad-scientist laughter and cries of "It works, It works, Hahahahaaaaaaa".
Ahem, anyway, Now to get in an order of fifty meat chicks and really put some poultry in the freezer.


  1. Ulf I dunk them until the scales on the upper most part of the leg slip off easily.
    I boil up a 20 litre drum of water and by putting in a couple of pinches of washing powder it helps to quickly break down the "water resistance" on the feathers making them scald quicker and more evenly without boiling the flesh of the bird.

  2. Also Ulf I haven't seen a butcher who hangs for 4 weeks since the 1970's unless you specifically ask for it, then they usually don't want to either (I am talking over a decade ago since I last asked)

  3. Thanks Jim, I forgot to add that I add a little squirt of washing up detergent for the same reason. It is almost impossible to scald a duck without doing this.
    The meat is most definitely better with the extra hanging time. I believe it will soon become common again for the up market restaurant trade. I understand it is pretty much the done thing throughout most European countries. My French friends claim they would not even consider beef edible if it were hung for less than three weeks.