Teste Situations

November 8, 2017 in Food, Home

Yesterday was another milestone here on the farm. Yesterday we sent our first lamb to freezer camp. Well, Troy actually did the deed. I was indulged in a state of panic getting product ready for market, as is the Monday norm.

In between filling containers of body butter I glanced out the window towards the barn to take in the progress. Movement inside the barn, then a wheelbarrow tipped out the door, then the sound of the tractor moving towards our water source and the area where we’ve been dressing carcasses. I put down my containers and ventured outside. I’d have been happy to avoid the whole scene, but it didn’t seem like the right thing to do, and so I went to see if I could help.

There was Troy, standing in front of the lamb that hung from the tractor bucket. I stood alongside him and joined in the stare. At eye level an enormous set of testicles confronted our gaze, and neither of us needed to say anything. Troy had made an initial cut into the belly, but I could tell he was a little thrown off by the dangling participles punching him right in the eye. We’ve slaughtered and butchered chickens and pigs and turkeys. None of those beasts had a set like this. I could hear Troy’s brain going through the motions. Where to cut? How to separate the goods from the goods? My brain couldn’t quite do the math, either.

I walked away and left Troy to Google sheep balls. As luck would have it, our neighbour (who is a sheep farmer and very experienced in these matters) drove by, saw that something was up, and stopped in. Under his watchful eye and instruction the carcass was castrated. Today we cut and wrapped our lamb. One more box of food for the winter – almost 60 pounds, we figure. We didn’t keep the testicles, something else will enjoy them.

Never in a million years did I think a dinner conversation might go something like this:

Him: Next year if there’s a ram lamb we’re castrating it early on. I just didn’t know what to do with those balls, did you see the size of them?!?

Me: Yeah, I wondered how we’d deal with those.

Him: When I was Googling sheep testicles I thought about keeping them. It sounded like they might be good.

Me: Yeah, I don’t think so.

My progressive female self wants to pull out all the symbolism, the Freudian and Jungian triggers, the social significance of dealing with testicles through death and cuisine. My other self wonders what sort of god-forbidden redneck I have become… I not only went through this, I thought it was interesting enough to write about.

In the end I think it comes down to the fact that neither of us feels good about killing things, even if it is to sustain ourselves, but humans are omnivores, and so are the animals that will end up enjoying those balls. We are all just meat, from head to toe, and eventually we too will be eaten by something.

Might as well make a note of it, after all, it might be on the test(es).


Dumb as a…sheep?

August 3, 2015 in Everyone Else

imageI have a routine when I bring the animals in at night. First the female goats and kids, then the wethers and bucks, then the sheep. Every night it’s the same, and it goes like clockwork. They know the routine as well as I do.

Last night I went through the motions as always, but when I got to the sheep there was a problem. I opened the door to let them in and Stella was nowhere to be seen. I walked out to the pasture and called her. “Here, sheep sheep.” I listened for a telltale baaa. Nothing.

Now anyone who’s been following our blog will remember that we’re no strangers to lost sheep, but unlike our first two, Stella and Harriet don’t even think about escaping. Ever. I started combing the property thinking that maybe she’d inadvertently grazed, head down, right under a fence. I toured the back pasture, I looked on the front lawn, I even looked in the orchard across the road where the horses are grazing. Nothing.

It was obvious Stella hadn’t left of her own accord, so I started to fear the worst. I turned my attention to the wooded section behind the pasture, looking for clumps of bloody wool or flattened grass where a carcass might have been dragged. Nothing was out of place.

I returned to the barn, wondering if somehow she’d gotten in with the goats and I just hadn’t noticed. I checked all the stalls twice. She simply wasn’t there.

I went outside again for another tour of the pastures and that was when I spotted a little cloven foot sticking out from under the ramp to the barn. It was attached to Stella who had wedged herself into the spot where the ramp meets the ground, and in doing so had knocked out one of the supports. The 14 ft ramp appeared to have her pinned to the ground.

I ran for the bottle jack from the garage and frantically pumped up  the ramp. Although it took the weight off of her, Stella didn’t seem to want to move. Pulling her out wasn’t an option because I had no idea what injuries she’d incurred. Although I was afraid I’d give her a heart attack, I decided I’d have to get in there with the tractor and lift the ramp high enough to free her completely. As soon as the ramp came up Stella stood up, shook herself off, and leisurely wandered around looking for grass. I took a deep breath and registered yet another nervous breakdown narrowly avoided.

Why Stella didn’t make a sound to let me know where she was is beyond me. She was silent through the whole episode. Perhaps she didn’t want to attract predators, but she sure wasn’t doing herself any favours. Goats would have been all about yelling their lungs out to get help. The more I get to know sheep, the more I wonder exactly what is keeping their ears apart.

Last night I counted sheep many times in my sleep, and, no thanks to them, they were both there. Disaster averted.