Our first homebred hogget

*TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES* There are pictures on this post but unfortunately they aren’t showing up. Please let me know if you can see them, as it’ll help me fix this.

 

Our first homebred lambs were 18 months old in November. Cisco was a really lovely ram in looks and a good temperament so was traded to another smallholder in exchange for Django, our new ram. Cisco has 6 girls of his own and I’m crossing my fingers that we hear of some lovely lambs from him next year.

 

The shearling ewes were put in with Django along with our 3 mature ewes. If everyone lambs then we’ll have a lot of sheep on our 2.5 acres, especially if the shearling ewes have twins. If that happens then I think we’ll be looking at selling some ewes with lambs at foot. We could also sell some stock at weaning. Everyone has been covered by Django at least once so its a wait and see what we get now.

Lots of lovely coloured bums

That left Crichton and Crais. Although Crais had done a lot of growing he was still smaller than Cisco and his horns weren’t quite growing in the right direction. As he was kept intact there was no option of him being a friend for a ram. Crichton was lovely and friendly but that also made him a bit dangerous. He thought he was people but he was also most likely to butt you. He did it a few times to me through the fence if I wasn’t scratching his chin right. Both boys were destined for the freezer.

From left to right, Cisco, Crais and Crichton

The night before they went, after they had been penned up safe, Sam and I had a discussion about meat. We raised these lambs. Crichton was so friendly. Could we eat them? Did we want to eat them?

The answer to the latter for me was yes. I am a meat eater, I don’t see that changing, and with the way my gut is, meat is one of the few things I can eat without trouble. Despite being a meat eater I also care passionately about animals. Some people find that hard to marry but I believe that it’s ok to eat animals if they have had a good life and a good (quick, low stress) death. I’m not completely there yet but I’d like all my meat to come from animals we have raised or have been raised by people we know. As to the former question, I feel that if I can’t eat meat I have raised then I shouldn’t eat it at all. I guess I believe that I should be aware of the animal and the life that was sacrificed.

The hogget from our homebred sheep wouldn’t be our first homebred meat. We have eaten chickens that we have bred. Sam felt that the sheep were closer to us, more relatable and that made it more difficult. We both went to bed with slightly heavy hearts that night.

Ingredients for a homegrown feast

One thing that came out of the conversation was looking at our consumption of meat in general. As a family we eat a lot of meat. We also have a lot of meat on the freezer. We talked it through and realised we were saving our homegrown (and other smallholder grown) meat for ‘special occasions’ and sharing with friends and family. Whilst it’s nice to share, doing this was keeping us away from the aim of only eating meat from known sources. We need to stop ‘saving’ meat in the freezer. We also decided to make an effort to reduce the amount of meat we buy in. I am working on buying only 2 fresh dinner meats a week. Everything else should come from our freezer (or kievs and pizza – our meals for overwhelmed days). Lastly, we decided to reduce down our consumption. See about meals without meat where we can and reducing meat portion sizes where we do eat meat.

A mutton shoulder from last year that we decided to stop ‘saving’

When we got the meat back I have to admit I was nervous. As they were intact rams which were living close to the ewes I was worried about ram taint. I didn’t even advertise the meat for sale in case it was inedible. As soon as I got the meat into the fridge and freezers I cut a bit of us and fried it. I’ve never sniffed meat with such suspicion. Thankfully I needn’t have worried. It was delicious and we tucked into fried chops that night.

Pan fried hogget chops – delicious

Despite not advertising we sold 3 halves by word of mouth. Selling always worries me in case people aren’t happy with what they bought but everyone reported that the meat was the best they’ve had. It’s a wonderful feeling producing good meat.

We got the horns and skins back as well. The skins are salting on the polytunnel and will be sent for tanning in the new year. The horns are outside waiting for nature to work it’s magic and the cores to come out.

One of the skins pre-salting (it was very dark by the time I could work on them)

All in all I’m feeling very positive about the whole thing. Now that Django has covered the ewes the ball is rolling for the whole process to start again.

Dans

P.S. As always if you like the post, give us a thumbs up, and if you want to be notified of every blog post then subscribe – there’s a button to the left or below if you’re on a mobile device. It’s always nice to know people are out there and reading.

5 thoughts on “Our first homebred hogget”

  1. Great post as usual.. I’m really glad you talk about meat being from a living breathing animal and that if you eat it, you should be prepared to kill it.. that’s exactly why I’m veggie, and I feel it’s hypocritical for so many to eat animals but couldn’t kill them.
    Photos showing up fine. Seasons greetings to you all, live A&D xxxx

    1. Thank you. I do find myself wishing I could kill our sheep ourselves. It pains me a bit to know that we strive to give them a really good life but their death is an unknown. The abbatoir has good reports but it’s not the same as knowing for sure that the animal has been treated with dignity and respect on the time preceding, during and following death. We could ‘home kill’ but only if it were only for our own consumption, technically we wouldn’t even be able to serve it to guests as part of a meal.

      Seasons greetings to you both. And thank you for letting me know about the photos, I spent half an hour wrestling with it last night before giving up.

      Dans

  2. This is an engaging and interesting look into your process; thanks for sharing hun!

    I am with you on the meat eating and so envy you your ability to own the process of the meat you eat. I am.also super proud of you guys!

    Reduction of meat use etc is a great step to consider too; a way to honour the impact of meat on the landscape without giving it up entirely and still honouring your role as a smallholder/meat eater. We stopped cooking with much meat a good few years ago; now, before Pete went veggie last month, we would cook with meat maybe once a week. I appreciate you have dietary things to consider but if you fancy any recipe ideas I’d be happy to share what we’ve learned over the years. 😊

    And yes I can see the photos! Xxx

    1. Thank you. Yes I feel very blessed to be able to take control of what we eat, not just the meat but the fruit and veg too. A meal where you remember planting/the birth, tending and caring and harvesting it all is a wonderful thing. I strive to have many more of them. I do look forward to sharing some of that with you when you next visit, although I’ll need something veggie for Pete.

      I’m trying to start small, life is full of pressures right now and aiming too high will set me up to fail. I’d like to get to 1 meat free day a week to start with. We’ve managed to pretty much halve our meat content in meals though so that is a good start. If you have any suggestions I’d be very open to them. I really do need to try soups, did you have a recipie for a pumpkin one you’d tried?

      And thank you for saying about the photos, I still can’t see them on 3 phones, or 2 laptops with multiple browsers, it was driving me mad.

      Dans

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *