Posted by: kathandroger | December 15, 2015

Death of an innocent.

Sophie has gone to our freezer. She was the last of our three spring lambs, and the one we could not catch last week when friend Gerard slaughtered and butchered her sister Sarah. She just refused to stay in the trap when I tried to shut the sheep in, always darting out at the last second. More thought was needed on sheep trap design, and eventually I managed to  rig up a rope to pull the door shut without being seen. Kath has been away for a week in New York, and although she thought I needed help, I was determined to do the deed unaided. Our usual retired butcher was not able to help this year due to a botched knee operation, and I had seen several procedures now and reckoned I had learned enough. Again U tube provided an excellent video by a chap with impressive tattoos on how to do the job, but as usual with experts he made it all look so easy!

The animal was trapped, the others ignored her and kept on eating, and I turned her  onto her back and tied her legs before dragging her down to the wood store. I had forgotten how big and heavy the lambs had grown. There was no way I would be able to haul her up onto a beam for slaughtering, but happily the slope into the store has a deep step, and Sophie’s head dangled over it in the ideal position. It was easy to slit her throat with a very sharp knife, and she bled into a bucket and died within a couple of minutes at most. I don’t think there is a kind way to slaughter an animal, but it was all done in a few moments, from field to death. Then came the problems with moving the carcass. Eventually I managed to haul her up sufficiently high to start the skinning. That took much longer than I thought, a combination of lack of expertise and a tough sheep. Rather than retain the head and eat the brain, as we have done in the past, I sawed through the neck and took the head off with the complete skin-all pushed into a bin bag which I hope the dustman have taken away today. The guts next needed to be removed, and the bulging belly indicated that Sophie had eaten well that day! Guts are slippery, difficult things to manage, and after slitting the breastbone to get at the heart and lungs, the whole lot slithered into another big bin bag after releasing all the inner attachments. That was my first mistake- I had forgotten about the kidneys and they came out with the bowels!

Now what to do with all the bits? Home slaughtering is illegal in France now, but as with many silly laws it is ignored. Fires, too, are not allowed, but I have always burnt garden rubbish in an old oil barrel, so I got a good old blaze going and dumped the entire entrails within. The whole incendiary was going well, when who should arrive at the front door but our local Fireman looking to sell their Christmas calendars! His sense of duty was overtaken by the ten euros I paid for his offering, and he did not even mention the billowing clouds of smoke and the smell of burning animal!

The carcass was hung for a couple of days, and then the butchering began.I had studied the video, but had forgotten much of it, and so took the tablet into the workshop, which had been converted into a spotless abattoir by the laying of an old plastic tablecloth over my workbench. Another problem was the lack of proper tools, but all went well using my wood saw and an axe  as well as sharp knives.IMG_3281

The saw was a bit crude, but then I remembered the World War 2 Surgeons kit I had been given many years ago. It contained a lovely, unused bone saw and bladed, and was soon pressed into action.IMG_3283 (2)To cut a long butchery short, we ended up with some lovely joints, improved by my returning wife’s paring of all the excess fat, and each half has gone into friends freezers. I made a cottage pie last night with some of the mounds of mince, but there was enough for a rugby team.

I have  said before that it gives me no pleasure to kill our lovely animals, but meat eaters must acknowledge where their food comes from. Rather than have another person do the deed, I really felt the need to do it myself, and am glad to have done so. Next year who knows?


  1. Well done!

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