butcheringI am so proud of the group of young women and men who stepped up bravely to learn the techniques of humane slaughter and butchery at this workshop. The city really met the country at this workshop and together skills, stories and knowledge were shared. Our farming folk here (fifth generation early settlers) in this wonderful community of St Albans came out to show how its done and the city folk confronted the reality together and came out shining. Not everything comes to us easy in life if we are to take responsibility of our food supply seriously and this is one of those workshops, but the experience of the trainers and the courage and conviction of the participants made this a really rewarding and useful weekend.

I’m now certain that people have a better understanding of how to slaughter a range of animals humanely. What’s humane slaughter? Respecting the animal; killing it in the paddock as part of the animal’s natural routine so no trauma or transportation is involved; the animal has no knowledge or awareness of its fate, being killed quickly and painlessly. To achieve this is where this workshop steps in. We show you the techniques, the methods, the tools you need. And it’s not always to consume meat. This is where the Vegans come in (especially if you live in the country). If you see an animal on the road in pain or any animal through injury or old age dying a slow painful death are you going to let it suffer? Or will you be able to give it a humane ending. If it’s the latter, then you will need to know how to do it. The other reason this workshop is for vegans is because when you see the process you might feel better about eating meat! It’s amazing how many vegans come here and are happy to eat meat when they know its local, fresh and organic and that the animal had a great life and humane death. I’d estimate ¾ would soon be eating meat again.

The sheep we slaughtered wouldn’t have even heard the gunshot it was so quick and students were very impressed with the skills of Mr. Bailey (fifth generation farmer here in the valley) who shot and slaughtered the sheep so quickly and effortlessly. Various slaughtering techniques were shared for the rabbits and chooks. People realize the extent of their capabilities also in a workshop like this. After the slaughtering, we learned butchering skills. People learned they had choices with the cuts. Roasts or steaks were the question. One means less or more of the other. Sausages and mince were made, rolled roasts and a range of other cuts for various uses. Nothing was wasted.

butchering2To add to the experience participants got to eat the animals they killed and learn about different ways to cook them. We feasted on the rabbits at the evening dinner with our chef Kathleen (who previously worked at Sydney’s Opera house Bennalong Restaurant) serving us with steamed and fried crumbed rabbit with quince jelly followed by rabbit casserole with fresh green vegetables. For lunch we ate the chickens we cooked roasted in another mouthwatering dish from the oven. The bones from the chooks and rabbits have also been feeding us all week here on a delicious soup. So nothing has been wasted and they animals have been used to their highest capacity (a great permaculture principle).

Next time you eat meat you might want to ask the questions where has it come from? What sort of life has it had? What has it been fed on? What has it had to experience to get to my plate; and did it suffer when it was killed? And if you feel bad about the answers then no point feeling guilty do something about it… sign up for the next workshop!

What people said

“A fantastic hands on course that gives a professional insight into a confronting topic.” Grant P, Northern Beaches

“Hi Penny. Thank you so much for a fantastic weekend. I know my free-range animals are healthy and happy, and by slaughtering and butchering on the farm I can save them the stress (and me the cost) of the transport, handling and factory line processing. I recommend the Humane Slaughter & Butchery workshop to anyone who wants to provide their family with their own clean, healthy, humane meat straight from their pasture or pens.” Kate Dorney, Barrington