Saturday, 6 February 2016

Pheasants for the Peasants - vacuum packed

There is much I disagree with about the activities of the shooting and hunting fraternity. There is also much I disagree with about those who want their food neatly packaged and don't care where it comes from or how it was produced.
So I am probably about to upset everybody I know, except, maybe, the smallholders.

If I want to kill an animal for food there is, quite rightly, a whole system of rules and regs to ensure that the animal does not suffer during its last moments.
So how would the public feel if their mass produced chickens , instead of being killed quickly and efficiently (I'm sure none of them really want to know about this either) were turned out into a field one morning so that they could be scared back out into the open and blasted from the air (if they could fly). Would this be considered the most humane way of killing them? Would this be acceptable?

Don't get me wrong, I actually don't have a problem with someone shooting a wild bird, but with provisos.
Firstly, it must be to eat.
Secondly, it must not put the general population of the bird at risk.
Thirdly, it must not cause stress to other wild species or important habitats.

In fact I would much rather that everybody ate animals and birds which had lived a fulfilling, natural life in the wild. Of course, this would not remotely be sustainable.

But here's the thing. On these organised shoots, virtually nobody wants to take the birds home to eat! After all, they need preparation and besides, they'll have shot pellets in them. So 90% of the birds get left. Forget the conservation issues. Forget the welfare issues. Forget all of what I said above. How, in a world where people are starving, in a country where people rely on food banks, how can this happen?

So here's where my friend the beater comes in. I wouldn't do what he does, but he was brought up with it and it is part of his life which I respect. But at least he takes the unwanted birds and uses them. And some of them he very kindly passes on to me.

A fridge drawer full of partridges - 'French'.
I would decline English grey partridges.
Should I take these birds, given my views? Yes. And I am very grateful for them. When I grew up we never got to eat game. Pheasant is a very tasty meat and I'm only making the most of what other people are carelessly discarding.
I also gratefully accept the occasional wild mallard or woodpigeon from my friend and for the reasons given above I have no problem with this. If only I could find a source of rabbit or deer too!

And so it is that I spent most of Monday processing birds for the freezer. I never thought I'd be doing this five years ago.
I got to use my new vacuum sealer too. It's the cheap one from Lidl so I wasn't expecting a perfect performance but I was pretty impressed with the results. The packaged meat (for that's what the birds now are) is snugly and professionally bagged. It takes up less space in the freezer and won't get freezer burn. The labels won't fall off either.

For now, I'm off to bed as I'm up early, taking my friend's three pigs into the abattoir. Then I'll be straight back to plant some fruit trees he picked up for me from the auctions. Apricots, quinces and Mirabelle plums. I'm excited.

The views expressed in this blog are purely my own. If you disagree, I'm sorry but you're wrong! Feel free to leave troll-like comments. I may just delete them. After all, it's my blog and you don't have to read it!

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