Despite the previous evening’s unscheduled but pleasant excursion,
I was nevertheless up well before first light, as usual; Tony, having endured a long day yesterday (around 20 hours, by the time he yawned his sleepy way ‘up the wooden hill’) enjoyed a lie-in until around midday. I did the chores & worked on the computer, as the weather had changed from yesterday’s sunny but cheerful chilliness to a more misty gloom peppered with intermittent rain.
A shiver of revulsion ran through me as I trudged down to the yard, having noted Moriarty’s ‘gift’ dumped unceremoniously thereon: the broken body of a large, brown rat, its throat ripped out by our fearsome feline. I immediately disposed of the abhorrent corpse, aware of the disease risk these disgusting creatures pose – even when deceased. Whilst we have never seen a live rat on the Ffarm ,we know that inevitably they are lurking all around; & at this time of year, with the weather growing colder & food supplies increasingly scarce, they inevitably draw closer to the buildings & become bolder in their approach. Thankfully Moriarty seems to at least ensure the local population remains at a respectful distance, even if he cannot keep them completely at bay. The ‘Escaped Chickens’ (permaculture smallholders in France, check out their great blog) found a rat’s nest in their compost heap, recently; as their horrific projections point out, just one pair of rats can produce a staggering 2000 descendants in a single year – so thank you, Mozzer, for your hard work (you’re forgiven smashing that stack of dinner plates the other week – well, almost).
Whilst Tony set to some work outside I cooked a late lunch; Tony had pointed out that we really needed to run down the freezer to make room for the massive mound of bacon which is curing in the cold store; so I cooked him a succulent pork chop, & made an apple & red onion compote to dress it along with some tasty little potatoes & a head of fresh broccolli.
Thus refuelled with food & enthusiasm, Tony set to work on clearing one of the empty pens in preparation for the winter; & particularly owing to Moriarty’s murdered rat. We’d also discovered what looked like recent rat activity, in both the lambing & goat sheds; droppings, & the telltale shallow ‘tunnels’ they create as they root through the straw. The pen he chose to work on today – in the goat shed – had been deep littered for a couple of months; so it was hard going to say the least. I felt extremely guilty that I was unable to help but the work I’d done on the driveway in the previous days had unfortunately resurrected my ‘tennis elbow’ & my arm was stiff, sore & extremely painful – to attempt to wield forkfuls of heavy muck with it in such a fragile state, would have been blatant madness. So I undertook the more ‘forgiving’ farmyard chores after which I cooked the supper – the first of the kid meat, to see whether it would indeed live up to expectations. I slow-roasted Arfryn’s leg in the Rayburn, dressing it simply with sea salt, pungent black pepper & a clove of our home-grown garlic & sprigs of freshly-plucked thyme. I presented it on a bed of rice with some fresh-cooked vegetables so as not to detract from the flavour; & made a delicious gravy from a dash of merlot & the resultant meat juices. There was virtually no fat on the meat & Tony proclaimed it a resounding success: much more tasty than lamb but without the fat; a more close-grained, fine-textured food with plenty of flavour but displaying absolutely none of the ‘strong goatiness’ we’d been warned about. So it’s ‘goodbye lamb, hello chevon’ from now on….after all, as kid meat has more protein & less fat than even chicken, it’s got to be good!
Supper was rounded off with (naturally) a dish of homemade ice cream – just the thing for poor, exhausted Tony who was nevertheless delighted that his fitness is clearly improving – when he first started clearing out pens, just one would take him at least a couple of days; rather than only an afternoon or evening, as it does now.
Meanwhile, sampling the ice cream, we noted that interestingly the Christmas Pud version I served, has changed in taste quite radically – whilst it was perfect on the day it was made, the flavours have since steeped more radically & there is a distinctly orangey tang to the taste – still delicious, but not what is required in that particular ariety. However the deep, dark chocolate I dished up was, if anything, even darker & deeper…..ooerr missus, positively goooorgeous – in fact I won’t sell any, at this rate – as it’ll be too good to leave the premises, I’m afraid!