I am now a real smallholder

WARNING this post contains the killing of some of my farm animals. If this could offend you please don't read on.

One of the many reasons for lantanaland, was the ability to be able to raise my own meat. The reasons for this are pretty varied. Quality is one, I work in the meat industry and while there is good meat out there, there is also a fair bit of crap, not to mention some dubious practices. Meat, like fruit, is also bred for trends and commercial gain, take the super lean pork or 16 week old chicken. I wanted to be able to have old school tasty roast chook, or fatty belly bacon. The second reason is environmental. Domestic animals don't have to be land killers. You can use them in lots of ways to manage your land.

Enough high falutin commentary.

It's all academic if I can't actually kill the animal. I think it pretty cowardly to ask someone else to do it. I thought I'd start with chickens, but as it turns out, my drakes were ready to go first. I'd hatched these myself and to be brutally honest, they were ready about two weeks ago, but I've been finding excuses to let it go.

I committed to today and I started getting nervous around lunch. I've never done anything like this before, and don't know anyone with recent experience who could come and give advice. So I just came home from work, got the axe, wrapped them in a towel and one blow each it was done.

I felt a huge melancholy when I did it. These ducks had no name, they were destined for the pot, but they were still part of our daily life at lantanaland. The Wife and I have talked before about how humans don't really like change and this would be a sudden one, I know I felt out of wack after the fox raid last year. I didn't really have time for reflection, I had to pluck them while they still warm. This was heaps harder and took longer than I thought. I'm sure there is a knack to it, but I don't have it. Then the bit I was dreading, the gutting. And of course it turned out to be really simple. There was lots of yellow fat round the organs and I kept the livers for dinner. I then took off the breasts and legs/thighs and rubbed them in a salt and spice mix before putting them in the fridge. They'll become confit, the king of poultry dishes. The frames went into the stockpot to render off the fat, then make beautiful rich duck stock.

It all took about two and a half hours. I'm sure I'll be quicker next time, but these ducks are special, they'll be the first meat that I've raised from birth. It gives me the confidence that I can do it again, but for the return of meat I think I'll stick to chicken. I can now raise any animal, knowing that a life on lantanaland will be better and more varied than any commercial producer could give their livestock. These ducks had it pretty good, they ate tomatos from my hand, stripped my chilli bushes of their leaves and splashed in the ponds. Compared to their brothers and sisters that ended up as snake food they lived like kings.

However I didn't really enjoy my liver for dinner.

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