Summer Stock-take at Little Owl Gully
Graham R. Cooper
We made it! Just. Just as we started to notice autumn chill and how much darker it was getting first thing in the morning. Stepping outdoors at seven one morning and exclaiming, “It’s like plunging into a cold swimming pool!” or June waking to the day, “It’s so dark!”
Days race by, they say even faster as you get older. Feels that way: early autumn and some days I’m tensing up for winter!
Going by the meteorological calendar, we put the meat in the freezer – from the last animal for the season slaughtered for food – on the first day of autumn: 1st March. Goat meat already occupied a quarter of one chest freezer and the other was full of fruit, vegetables and homemade bread. Like giant jigsaw pieces, I had to slide around beef steaks and roasts to get the lid to close.
Closing on roasts and steaks that we’d got the butcher to vacuum pack to greatly increase how long you can freeze them before the meat quality starts deteriorating. The last cattle beast we had home-killed was still supplying us with meat after three years.
Looking back, summer really was our stock-take. We added two Dexter cross weaner calves at its start and the mobile abattoir butchers subtracted one four year old cow at its end; sent another four year old cow to the Temuka saleyards; sold a goat buck kid, and a young doe with two doe kids at foot; added two well-grown wether kids to the meat supply after I did my own home-kill and butchering; and created a flock again when our one surviving Brown Shaver hen was given the company of three Red Shavers I bought that had been laying for ten months.
It’s been a near run thing, but we’ve got to where we wanted to be by the beginning of autumn: our one small Dexter cow (Violet) and the two calves; four milking goats and their kids: three does and one wether; our goat buck (Chappie) and his wether companion; four hens all laying well.
The billy goat’s in season: “You can smell Chappie as you walk down the drive,” June said as I emerged from my writing room at ten this morning to let out the hens for the day. Pam and Gretchen will be served by him early April. The seasons roll round and we begin again!
That’s all on modern-day homesteading at Little Owl Gully till next Monday. Thanks for your company. Bye for now.