Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Chilling tales

As we have blogged in the past we hope to be ‘responsible meat eaters’ and therefore rear and kill our own animals. In the process providing them with a good home; safe place to live out their days with fresh air, grazing, interaction and affection.

This is something we have blogged about and whilst the culling process is not something we enjoy, it is a necessity for our lifestyle. (And I will warn you this post has images of this process).

There is a process between killing and butchering (with most livestock, not really necessary for poultry) involves hanging the animal in a cool environment to reduce the temperature of the meat, over night or for few days/weeks, it is ready to be processed into usable cuts.

So far we have gotten by, by using a friend’s coldroom, however this is not a feasible long term solution (though we are very grateful). Another alternative was always to hire one for a few days or a week… but again this could work out costly. If you were to hire a mobile butcher to process your animals for you, they often supply these. But as we prefer to do everything ‘in house’ (or should that be ‘on farm’) we have been arranging a cost effective means to acquire something to meet our needs. As to purchase a room and unit new, would be rather costly, and would take a fair few kills to recoup. And whilst the cost is not the 'reason' we are doing this, having a economical source of meat is a realistic factor to our choice of lifestyle.

When we bought this place, one of the purchases we made in our first year had been an ex- ice storage box. Here shops and service (petrol/gas) stations have them onsite to keep bags of ice cold. We had intended to recondition, or replace the refrigeration unit. It seemed ideal, as it wasn’t too large, that it took up too much room in the shed and we were only considering processing our own pigs (and growers at that, nothing too large).   Unfortunately we had not got around to sorting this out. And once we killed our first cow (on farm) with help, something we hadn’t really considered doing ourselves before [THis I will blog about soon, I just want to get the process right].
Anyway a cow or in fairness a pig the size of our original sow, would never have fitted in our cold box. But we had thought this is only something we would do every year or so, so we could hire one and we had not intended to kill our girl, so that was why she was that big! So decided we were still going to get it up and running, until a full size room was offered to us, therefore giving us a cost affection option, that we considered to be worth while.

So this weekend Matt and a friend picked up a cold room that had been in storage (in pieces) and began the pain staking process of piecing it back together.

As it was from a friend of a friend, we were reassured that it was all there (or mostly, the main parts at least). We have had to source some pieces to finish and seal it, but overall it’s looking quite good. Especially when we acquired it in exchange for skilled labour! It is handy having a tradesperson around.

So our next step is to get the units themselves up and running. So fingers crossed, as this could be the expensive part! And isn’t something we can really do ourselves.