Monday, 10 December 2012

Grow-Your-Own Meat

Monday 10th December 2012
Drama in the Air

I first started growing food, on a very small scale, when we lived in London. Just a tiny vegetable rotation which yielded a few potatoes, carrots, parsnips, beetroot and the like. Also the occasional cucumber and tomato from the small greenhouse.
At the right time of year we could provide all our own veg or salad items, at least for some of our meals.
I always knew that, with a bit more land, we should be able to provide almost entirely for ourselves when it came to vegetables and salad, as long as we were prepared to eat seasonal and store carefully.
I was even quite confident that we would be able to produce our own eggs (not literally, you understand).

But what I was altogether less certain about was whether we would be able to raise any animals for meat. After all, the only animals I'd ever kept were cats, tropical fish and a few goldfish in the pond. Not once did I consider eating any of these!
Inheriting a whole gang of cockerels when we took over the house made sure that we eventually had to 'deal with' some of them, and along with this act came our first meat 'n' 2 veg all of our own.

Inheriting our own sow at the same time took us a giant step along the way to growing our own meat. I'd imagined that we just might raise a couple of young pigs a few years down the line. But sometimes you just have to jump in and grab an opportunity when it comes along.
And then, with the help of a farmer very keen to loan out his boar, we find ourselves with not one but eleven pigs.

The last two pigs from the second litter.
We plan to have a go at bacon, ham and gammon.

Well, we're now onto our third litter with Daisy (our sow) and we can produce more than enough pork and sausages for our own needs and to sell. Not that we'll ever take it for granted.

Next we chanced upon some geese, though none of these has yet made it to the table and we have lost our female. But one day, hopefully next year, we will raise some of our own goslings, eventually to go on the plate.
The ducks are at about the same stage, though we are pretty confident we have a male and three ladies, so it won't be long before they start multiplying!

The guinea fowl are one step down the line and the first clutch are rapidly growing. It won't be long before we surreptitiously start picking them off.

And this year, along came the Zwartbles, Number Ten and Number Eighteen, that pair of friendly lambs who kept the grass short for a while before nibbling at all the vegetables too!

So here we are, two years down the line and beyond what I ever imagined. We have a freezer full of pork and lamb, a choice of poultry and a steady flow of eggs.
In fact it's now a rare occasion that anything on our supper plate originates from anywhere else but our very own farm. (Maybe the salt and pepper and a bit of butter)
But I'm always looking for new ways to provide for ourselves. By next year the fruit should start to produce in more significant quantities.
I'm toying with the idea of growing a little wheat too, what with bread prices the way they are. But when I get round to this project it will only make a token contribution. Unless I'm pleasantly surprised, I reckon the processing and the storage (keeping it away from rats and their rodent cousins) will not make it viable on a scale large enough even to provide for just our own needs.

Of course, there's always the possibility of new animals. Goats maybe? Could be good for dairy products.
But for the moment I think we'll consolidate what we're already doing for a year and continue to feast upon what our livestock and our land provide us with.

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