Monday, 18 April 2011

Spring Lambs

Very Easter-like! Beautiful weather yesterday, so we embarked on a long country walk and saw some of the lambs grazing, bleating and bounding around - fortunately well out of the way of our very daft dog.


  1. Yum, yum, we're having slow roasted shoulder of lamb for Easter Sunday lunch! Pass the mint sauce...

  2. How can you think such a thing with such a picture of innocence before you!? love hot roast lamb and mint sauce though. I think those two need to be fattened up a little first.

  3. I was nicknamed ‘St Francis’ at the monastery because of my ability with wildlife and livestock (the cows actually gave more milk when I milked them – this isn’t a spiritual thing, it is because if you stress cows before milking, blood is directed elsewhere (fight or flight reflex) and not to their udders, whereas if the cows are happy and relaxed with you, they give more milk). I had hens from point-of-lay pullets to maturity with no losses (rare); I raised calves to be strong milk cows. I could work bee frames without gloves, while other brethren would end up with stings despite having more protection than a worker at Seascale! It is all about temperament and respect for the animals – also showing them who’s boss, without being cruel.

    Yet, much to some of the brethrens’ confusion, I would happily kill and butcher birds for the pot and get a bull calf ready for market, knowing, it was destined to be turned into a can of Pedigree Chum. (Just to upset all the lacto-vegetarians, calves die so we can have milk – 50% of calves are male, the vast majority of male calves aren’t needed in milk breeds (their meat is of poor quality) and therefore are sent for slaughter at the age of two weeks; without a calf a cow doesn’t produce milk, so the culling of male calves is a necessary part of dairy husbandry, as is killing of male chicks in the egg trade). The usual procedure was to take the calf from the cowshed, tie it to a large tree that stood outside the kitchen and the local farmer would then pick it up for market while we were singing lauds. I have seen brethren look me in the eye, scrutinising for tears as the calf was taken away – but they never saw any. I am very pragmatic where animals are concerned. I despise ill-treatment of animals, but can’t abide sentimentality either. Domesticated livestock are there as food and that’s that!

    That said, when my Dad managed to kill our dog of twelve years (taking it on a main road without a lead) I came home to find mother in tears and Dad – ironically – in the dog-house; but also very glum. The news was told me and then my Mum got annoyed because I didn’t cry – even my Dad had been crying earlier in the day. ‘It’s a dog!’ was my reply, I loved him and miss him to this day, but I couldn’t shed a tear over a dog.

    Am I heartless?


  4. I think I would weep buckets if Bessie met an untimely end. Otherwise, no, there is no point eating meat if you are not realistic about what happens and where it comes from.

  5. Bessie once nearly did meet an untimely end! She was little more than a puppy and she decided to take on a tractor (she is lovely, but very limited in the brains department.) She raced across the field barking and of course the driver couldn't see or hear her. Luckily he did see me waving my arms and gesticulating and he stopped - just in time. My heart was in my mouth, mainly at the thought of the mess(!) and of telling two young boys (they were ten and twelve) that the puppy was no more...
    We tend to keep her on the lead nowadays, she is not to be trusted!