Posted by: kathandroger | December 15, 2014

Surreptitious Sheep Slaughter.

Sadly the time had come to kill our spring lambs. Of the three, one had already gone to a friend for slaughter at an Islamic celebration a couple of months ago. The two remaining were brother and sister and as alike as chalk and cheese. The male, son of the wonderful ram Hercules, was a chip off the old block; sturdy, solid and not too quick around the ground. His sister, however, was just like her mother; artful, rapid and a real bugger to get close to. Hence the sheep trap! For the past few weeks I had been feeding the flock (lambs, three adults and one goat), in a very small enclosure with a small wire gate. I knew this would be necessary as to catch Rosemary, the mother of the errant female, had proved impossible when we wanted to shear her in the summer-she even leaped over a metre high fence! Anyway all was going well, and the animals were in the trap happily munching some sheepnuts. One grab and the male was caught, turned and tied without too much trouble, except that he was a great hulking chap and needed some turning. All this had to be done alone due to the incapacity of the trouble and strife. There was some jumping and general commotion behind me and the bloody female had escaped! She stood about 15 metres away and I am sure she was smiling. It was now in the evening, and the butcher was coming early the next morning, and I knew that my chance had gone. Only one lamb for slaughter! But life is full of challenges, and that young woman was not going to get the better of me. At the break of dawn the next day, this intrepid hunter made his way into the field again with the bread trap-the sheep love bits of old bread cut into cubes, and even the feisty female could not resist. Into the trap she went, luckily hidden between two others, and with a rapid fluid movement the gate was closed and the girl grabbed by the leg. She bucked  wiggled like only a young female can, but her legs were eventually tied and she was dragged downhill into the log store slaughterhouse. Sheep are supposedly easily frightened, but brother and sister seemed very relaxed together, and even forgot they were brother and sister when the male instinct took over and a carnal act was repeatedly performed! It is often pondered what to do if life is imminently threatened, and it seems the simple sheep has the answer already!

Our lovely retired butcher came and performed the killing very expertly and rapidly, the beasts were skinned and left to hang for butchering the next day. We have sold most of the meat very cheaply to friends, and have already enjoyed the liver, brain and testicles. I am not as keen on red meat as I used to be, and certainly don’t enjoy killing our animals, but that is all part of our life here, and to be vegetarian, I think, would be very difficult. We await our spring lambs.IMG_2858IMG_2863The only theoretical problem in all this is that it is illegal! Instead of being able to dispatch our animals on the premesis, they are supposed to be collected by a meat wagon, taken to Poitiers, put in a big abbatoir and then slaughtered with many thousand other beasts. The French have very many strange laws, and being pragmatic, tend to ignore most of them. We are doing what the French do.


  1. Good on you. It must be so much more stressful for the sheep to go all the way to Poitiers. The closure of small and medium sized abbatoirs is a problem everywhere. There are lots of arguments for and against eating meat. As an ecologist living in Europe I tend to fall into the omnivore camp. I suspect that if I still lived in Australia I’d be vegan. If we want to maintain grassland habitat (my specialism) we need to retain large grazers. In Europe that means managing them and one of the best ways is to eat them. Certainly if you are going to eat dairy products then you must eat meat (all those unwanted baby boys)!

  2. I’m an unrepentant omnivore too, with the occasional twinge. We see small truckloads of animals going to and fro most days and some at least must be going to the abattoir. Stress is cruel to the animals and whats more the stress hormones taint the meat. OK we have to have clean, well regulated abattoirs with vets in attendance checking for TB etc. but, like hospitals, the option of large and centralised has seemed to be the only viable solution.

  3. Poor lambs that is why I could never be a farmer I just couldn’t do its would love them too much x

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