The Dilemma of Raising Meat

 Today I want to touch very briefly upon the subject of raising meat. I don't plan on going into detail on the subject of raising and producing meat on the smallholding as I know not everyone who reads my blog eats meat and that includes my mother. But currently me and John do eat meat in small quantities, although we have not always done so.

I've had a very personal moral dilemma over eating meat for a long time. We have lived on our small holding for 6 years now, and I have kept chickens for eggs for several years before that in my back garden. The subject of raising our own meat to go with our veg has always been very brief conversations along the lines of....."It would be good to raise our own but I'm not sure if I could dispatch an animal I've raised" and then we would carry on planting carrots.

My dilemma has been that how can I be willing to eat meat someone else has dispatched but not be willing to do it myself? An animal has died to feed me in either situation, but if we raise our own we know how that animal has lived etc.

I'm not saying people must raise their own meat if they wish to eat it, we haven't up until now, but we have the land and ability to do it ourselves. In our situation we have the chance to know our animals are well looked after, been fed well, and had a clean dispatch.

So at the beginning of this year we made a decision to try raising our own meat and laying hens. All our flock at the time were ageing and we were not expecting many eggs this year, so the plan was to increase our laying flock by buying in and incubating hatching eggs in the breeds I would like for eggs, then when large enough any surplus cockerels would either be dispatched for the freezer, or if we truly couldn't do the deed we would sell them on.

The plan has worked out well, we have at least 10 new layers (we are still waiting to sex the youngest when they get a bit bigger) plus new breeding cockerels for future selling of our own hatchlings.

Almost 2 weeks ago we had our first dispatch day which went well for our first go, John was on dispatch and pluck duty and me in the kitchen preparing them for the freezer. We had our first roast last Sunday of the 5 that went in the freezer and I have to say I'm pleased with the result.

The plan next year is to raise hatching eggs of breeds that are specifically meat birds plus breed some of our own pure breeds to sell locally as layers. And yes I did choose breeds this year that lay pretty coloured eggs it's been one of those unimportant but giddy silly homesteading dreams to have baskets of multicoloured eggs on my kitchen table.

The photos above show 3 of our keeper cockerels Laurence the Lavender Araucana in the top photo, and Cornelius the Welsummer cockerel alongside our Cream Legbar who has yet to be named, so if you have any name ideas let me know :) 

Glastonbury Goddess Conference 2015

At the end of July I was fortunate enough to attend the Goddess conference in Glastonbury once again. Last year had been my first time and I had only bought a day ticket, but this year was for the full week of the conference.

I didn't take many photos of the conference itself I admit, mostly as it didn't feel comfortable to do so but also it was just so intense and busy, so here is just a few of them,it really is just a smidgen of a taste.

One of the evenings involved the climbing of Chalice hill for the sunset and then the moon rising behind the Tor.

A magical time was had during the bonfire on the other side of the Tor (anyone else seeing a firebird here?) and perfectly timed shooting stars during the star charging part of the ceremony.

(Main altar in the Goddess Temple)

I found the conference a total roller coaster of emotions, good and bad. Moments of elation and deep depression and sadness, and although I went for the week on my own, if I went again it would be in company, I feel you need someone there to talk through your stuff with.

Saturday evening was concluded with a masked Goddess dance and I love to dress up in costume, seriously I think I need and a dressing up box :)

Magical Moments of the Egg Kind

There are a number of magical moments when you do any form of self-sufficiency, such as your first laid egg, or the first pan of home-grown new potatoes, perhaps it is the first podded peas or ripe tomato.

Each year brings new magical moments and today was one of those, our first egg laid by a hen we incubated and hatched from an egg herself !!!     Life full circle.

It has been a very bad harvest year on the island, a very damp cool summer with the local barley and hay crops been virtually none existant, its going to have a knock on effect next year for the animals for sure.

Harvests on the plot haven't been very good either. Our onions and broad beans are decent enough but little else.

And meet the sum total of our tomato harvest, not much salad out of that one !!

But onwards and upwards,
we keep on planting and we always harvest something from our little patch of land.


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