Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Meat or Murder ?

Meat or murder ? It's a very stark emotive phrase. Firstly let me say that I am an omnivore. Because of a condition that I have, I thrive -nay, I require a high protein diet. That means protein of the highest caliber. Very good friends were vegetarians and now are vegan - that's fine by me: they don't judge me nor I they. I asked them what made them become vegetarians and they told me that they camped adjacent to a field of ewes and lambs - deciding then that meat was not for them . However I point out to you that if there were no demand for meat and meat products then we would not see that lovely scene in Spring, for there would be no need to breed livestock for meat, nor to replenish stock. Furthermore the lovely English Lakes deplete of grazing livestock would soon become overgrown and impassable. As would the New Forest and many areas of the Welsh and Scottish uplands. Grazing and foraging animals are a necessity to maintain nature's balance and we must now rely upon domestic animals to a great degree since there are no longer reindeer , bison, wild cattle, wild goats and the like to assist with this.
    My late husband was a hunter and fisherman....but give me a chance to explain. He fished as a lad, coarse fishing..where the fish are generally not really edible and are returned to the water. So when we moved to Scotland he took up other types of fishing..sea fishing, fly fishing, lure fishing, bubble float fishing...in fact many methods that he saw others use. As for the sea fishing, this was by rod and line and usually comprised catching the odd pollock, mackerel ...and one time a conger eel !! Just something to take home and eat...other smaller varieties were returned to the deep. Much more sustainable than the new process imposed upon commercial fishermen of discarding full nets of  " over the quota " dead fish back to the ocean ( for their swim bladders burst as they are taken from the depths ). He also helped a friend to lay creels and this meant the occasional crab-- again of the allowed size. Now to the shooting part ......well he shot rabbits, for the local golf courses who reported damages over £ 1000 / week, and for local farmers. But here I hasten to add - only for the pot ! There were customers glad to receive ( for free ) a rabbit or two, and he had a barter system with the local fishmonger in which he traded for fish. He was a good shot and would never never just injure an animal, he hated to see suffering, and should he see a rabbit with myxomatosis then he would quickly dispatch it. Also he abhorred the use of snares and always destroyed those laid by poachers ( so he wasn't always popular, for he had permission to be on the land ). Shooting game was not on his remit as a different licence was required plus he considered wholesale  " shoots " as somewhat barbaric. No, he was glad to have food for the pot and he enjoyed the outdoor life and the exercise.......sometimes he could go all day and not catch anything. Farmers troubled by rabbits complained that the rabbits lived a charmed life , eating the very best of arable crops, leading to tremendous losses. So it's really a balancing act..it's about maintaining our natural surroundings ( or at least how we've come to see them ) and maintaining a balance for the production of cereals and crops.
     Methods employed in abattoirs nowadays are strictly controlled in the UK , and seem to be more thoughtful than many years ago. Many farms are choosing to raise and slaughter their own stock on their premises thus avoiding any stress to the creatures by transporting them long distances.
     I know that this is a difficult subject for some to even consider, and it seems to be a necessary evil. But if we wish to continue to see a variety of livestock in the fields, and to marvel at the scenes then we have to accept farming, fishing and culling methods.
     My poem this week is about geese...my husband absolutely adored ducks and geese and would never consider shooting them !!

           Wild geese ( 25/1/72 )

Today I saw the geese fly north.
Wet day, dreary day.
Take me with you, fly you forth.
Cold day, weary day.
Let's glide over houses-over roofs.
Damp day, black day,
Wing beats sounding like horse's hoofs.
Dull day, bleak day.

Change position leading goose.
Glad day, happy day.
Shake your feathers, shake them loose.
New day, sunny day.
Today I fly with you far north.
Glorious day, smashing day.
We are free and we fly forth.
Oh happy, happy day.
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1 comments:

Anonymous said...

Male Mallards are worth shooting. Get too many and they drown females trying to mate en masse. Good in the pot too.