"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

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Q&A #7 Don't you find using a gun contrary to your lifestyle?

OK, this is one of those questions that doesn't go away. I am frequently taken to task by the anti-gun brigade because I use a rifle on the farm. I am told guns are only for killing, guns make murderers, guns are evil, guns supply criminals and so on and so forth.
So let me make this clear. A gun is a tool. It is not evil or anything else, it is just a tool made of wood and steel. On its own a gun is completely inanimate and harmless. The weakness in a gun is the human using it. The exact same weakness is found in humans using both cars and knives- both of which cause far more deaths in Australia each year than guns! I have yet to hear of anyone joining an anti-knife or anti-car lobby however. It simply appears that the media and a few politicians find it convenient to villainize guns and gun owners in a country where the majority lives in an urban environment and has no use for such tools. Were the same sources to try to ban cars and knives they would be looked upon as idiots!

Having said that I firmly do not believe everyone should have the right to own a gun. There are most definitely individuals out there who should not be allowed to own a gun, or for that matter be permitted to breed! I am a firm advocate of licensing the individual and tracking ownership of all firearms. Why? For the same reason you need a car license! To prove you are a fit person to use this device.

Now on a farm a gun becomes an essential tool if you keep livestock. We live by a firm set of rules regarding the humane treatment of our animals and one of those is that the death of any livestock must be instant, unexpected and painless. The most reliable method to achieve this by far is to destroy the animals brain with a single well placed shot from a rifle. A rifle allows me to stand at a safe distance or shoot from an unseen angle and carries killing force over a long distance. I take great care to be an expert with my marksmanship and will never take the shot unless I am absolutely sure of its placement. Likewise I carefully follow all safety procedures with a firearm. If you do this you should never have reason for an accident.
  1. A gun is always considered to be loaded and is treated as such. Whenever you pick up a firearm the muzzle is kept pointed in a safe direction and the weapon is opened to inspect the condition (to find out if there is a bullet in the chamber and if the magazine is loaded). You do this regardless of having just witnessed someone else do this in front of you. 
  2. You must ALWAYS be aware of the direction the muzzle is pointed regardless of having just safety checked the weapon. This will eventually become a habit and this is a good thing.
  3. You must be aware of the background before you shoot- where is the bullet going to go and how far will it travel.
  4. You must ALWAYS positively identify your target before shooting. 
  5. You must make safe (step#1) your gun when you have finished shooting and before it is cleaned and stored.
  6. Your gun must be safely and legally stored in a locked container. In this country this means the container meets certain safe requirements and is firmly bolted to the building.
I have been a shooter all of my adult life. I know a gun for what it is, a tool. Likewise I know to use the correct tool for the job. For light game and livestock I use a .22 rifle. It fires a very small bullet and is a very versatile gun for small livestock such as sheep and the like. For larger livestock where I want to be sure of a definite kill even if I slightly miss the brain I would use a .44Magnum rifle. This fires a large lead slug that transfers enormous energy to the target so that even if the brain were missed by an inch or so, the resultant shock wave will still pulverize it instantly. This is exceptionally good for livestock that wants to move around a lot like pigs or should you need to put down an injured bullock in an emergency. I make it a habit to always check on the results of the shot when I slaughter an animal. I want to ensure a painless kill.

So there you have it folks. I use guns like I use any other tool.
To the young anti-gun-lobby-lady-from-the-city I can only ask you to show me your anti-car lobby and anti-knife lobby cards when next you visit. If you really are about saving lives and not just joining the media bandwagon you will of course belong to these groups too.

Monday, 23 May 2016

May update

It has been a busy month, thus my tardiness in posting here. Sorry about that.
We aged the steer killed late last month for two and a half weeks in the coldroom before doing the cut up. The meat aged particularly well. Very little burn and almost no mold on the exterior surfaces. We cut up on some raised benches in the carport, making cleanup easier- no floors to scrub afterwards, plus all the fiddly bits that hit the floor are consumed by chickens. I am very pleased with the quality of the meat, there was plenty of body fat and the flesh is rich and marbled. So I broke the carcasse down into fillets, oysters, blade for mincing and shanks for slow roasting, Rump and round steaks, silverside for mincing (I detest silverside). Roasts from the T bone and nearby. The mince was then turned into a selection of sausages, plain beef bangers and herb and garlic specials. I also made a couple of pounds of spicy chorizo as I love a good chorizo. The bones were then recovered for the dogs and the final inedible waste would not have filled a twenty litre bucket! I am exceptionally happy with the rate of meat recovery we are getting now. The freezer is now packed and it is a good feeling to look into the freezer knowing you are supplied with beef for the coming year.
While I had the cold room running I took the opportunity to cull some of the guineafowl flock and hang them like game in the cold room for four days. To do this I set up a hide in the milking shed and quietly shot four adults with the .22. Headshots so as not to spoil the meat. They turned out to be quite palatable but rather dry. I am thinking a stew next time or else using the slow cooker.

Work on the hot house has been curtailed by a very late wet season with overnight falls of up to 206mm making the ground too soft to drive machinery across under any circumstances. On the plus side the water tanks are all full.

The new addition to our farm is a pair of kittens (Rei and Sen, left to right) to aid and eventually replace Jasmine in her mouse catching duties. The timing could not be better as we appear to be having a mouse plague in our district. Both kittens have already notched up several kills and show signs of being excellent ratters..