Saturday, 3 March 2012

Animal numbers down, up and down again

Posted by Rosie

Through the Winter my seven female meat birds had escaped their one way ticket to the freezer as they were laying eggs at a time when some of my layers were taking a rest. A couple of weeks ago one of them roosted outside so I picked her up to put her away and realised then, how heavy she was. Those birds bred for meat have the ability to put on weight quickly but if left too long before slaughter can die suddenly from a heart attack ... and I would never eat a bird that I found dead, not being sure exactly how or why it had died. Sorry girls - I would have to despatch you myself. That was last Friday and on Saturday, Simon was just finishing jointing some of them when week's gite guests arrived who promptly bought one whole bird to roast and 4 breasts to cook up for other suppers! With this in mind it seemed sensible to buy in some new stock as soon as possible so we will have plenty of chicken to sell to guests over the coming months. On Thursday I went to the market and bought 8 five week old chicks. Animal numbers were down for just 6 days before sneaking up again.

However they were to fall again, albeit only by one, on Friday. Last Summer I bought a lamb from my neighbours but he turned out to be what can only be described as a "non-doer". Come the time we slaughtered our other lambs in the Autumn he was nowhere near big enough so was reprieved. Over the winter he did put on some weight but always had an air of something not quite right about him, notably at the end of this week. He was hunched, head down and often stumbled when walking. Not good and to be honest had he died there and then I would not have been surprised. Time to ring the butcher, who on hearing of his likely imminent demise fitted me in to slaughter him before he died all by himself (see earlier note about not eating something that dies on it's own as it were).
A few lamb meals to look forward to

The butcher could see nothing wrong with him, except his small size and his internal organs all appeared in good condition. I though he perhaps had some lesions on his lungs, possibly a sign of pneumonia when he was younger but we will never know. He is fine to eat and we will be having roast shoulder of lamb for dinner tomorrow.

If my maths is right we are back to the same number of animals that we were a week or so ago, albeit one less lamb and one more bird. With luck it won't be long before numbers creep up again as Hilda, the Muscovy Duck is currently sitting on a clutch of 13 eggs due later this month and if I were to count all the frogspawn in the pond ....... :-)

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