Friday, 20 June 2008

Beef is on the menu

Tonight we had beef. Fillet steak. Not just any old fillet steak but fillet steak from a Dexter Cow bought from our favorite butcher.

Stuart is probably what everyone ever imagines a butcher to look like, a larger than life jolly red faced man who is totally committed to producing excellent meat. I bought a piece of fillet off him last Friday as we had dinner guests on Saturday night. It was a complicated menu as one of the guests, Mr 20%, well his wife didn't eat lamb and as another guest was the Stable Sprite who built the wondrous wooden construction housing our horses (who have had a mental moment and chewed through one of the walls) who also keeps pigs, in fact sold us the pigs we are now eating, and sounded dreadfully disappointed when I said we were having pork, we needed an alternative meat. It couldn't be pheasant as Annie, Mr 20%'s wife has made friends with one in the past, it couldn't be horse as we are British and the Stable Sprites wife might kick off served her favorite animal with seasonal vegetables, that left beef.

Stuart happily supplied a piece of beef to make a beef wellington, pictured above, the piece of meat was about the size of a small chicken and I only had to sell one kidney to buy it. Beef wellington was chosen as the dish of the day as by some strange coincidence I found while talking to the Stable Sprite one day that he knew Mr 20% who I also knew. Apparently Mr20% had promised the Stable Sprite a beef wellington eons ago and had never delivered. I felt this was a wrong that needed putting right so I organised the dinner.

It was a great evening, good food, good wine and great company, Mr20% was armed with a camera that is far superior to mine and has given me some excellent photos that will feature in later blogs. Anyway the beef was excellent, it was without doubt the best beef I have ever tasted.

This has now made me more determined to have a house cow, in fact get a small herd of Dexters. These are half sized cows, standing about a metre tall they are hardy, self sufficient and produce good milk and meat from basic rations. I have toyed with the idea of having a couple of Highland Cows but after tasting Dexter my mind is made up.

Unlike previous animal projects this one is going to be well thought out, planned and executed properly. We have in the past bought animals, like pigs, built the sty and pen around them, found out the legal requirements, bought the transporter to take them to the abattoir, learned how to tag and care for them as we go along, ended up with 500 pound of meat which just about fitted into the freezer that we collected the day before the meat arrived. The whole exercise was fantastic but was constantly a game of catch up, it cost us loads and we are just about to run out of pork so the next batch are in the barn. Its a Pavlovian response but every time I go and see them my mouth waters.

So, Dexters it is, and after talking to Stuart the Butcher it looks like we could even make this project cost neutral as he will buy any spare animals. So if we have two, sell one to him that should pay for the food they both have eaten. Four will pay for the food and will cover the cost of purchasing the animals. Selling one to our friends as joints we might even make a profit. We will need five though as we will need one for milk, six really as we need one as a pet, and then, right stick with two to start with or we will get in a spot of bother from the start. Cheap hay has been sourced as we wont have the grass all year for them, but as we stay here longer the more of the common we will reclaim as grazing from the bracken. So as you can see its been well thought out, we are even getting a herd number before the animals arrive this time.

A slight fly in the ointment is that the bank are fed up with us spending their money so we are officially broke. As I sold one kidney to buy the last Dexter joint, and spent all my pocket money on five steaks tonight for a celebratory dinner as Bethan had finished college (finally!) I am wondering how to fund this project. Tomorrow I shall search the attic and sell my toys on e bay.

Star Wars Lego anyone?

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