Life at the end of the road

December 9, 2019

Lots to do :-(

Golly gosh, 6:30 already, black and wild outdoors with plenty of stars but no sign of the moon, he must be hiding in the west somewhere cos he sure was bright last night. Well, it’s gonna be a short one this morning, about as long as it takes me to drink five cups of strength 5 Italian blend. Well, they are small cups and I don’t usually go higher than 3 Smile

It’s getting ‘that time’ when the ‘fortnight off’ draws to a close and I’m preoccupied with all the tasks left, as yet undone. Dealing with the pigs and associated shenanigans have taken up a good chunk of the last week, though I must confess to not having played much of an active part in the butchering this year. Living alone these days and already having a freezer full of deer, fish, scallops and even pork meaning, well, I just don’t want to be greedy Smile Having said that last night’s offering of faggots, spuds, broccoli and asparagus was deelish Smile

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Balls of meat, seasoning and onion wrapped in this membrane called caul fat https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caul_fat that surrounds some of the pig’s internal organs. Amazingly storng and sometimes called lace fat, you can see why. Well, I have one left and can’t make my mind up whether to put it on tonight’s menu or freeze it Smile

Sunday

With a huge contingent working on the remains of Snowy and May I’ve been keeping myself amused with other tasks. An early morning trip to Brochel to service my Mate’s 6kW petrol generator being the first task. Early being quite relative, it was probably just before 9:00 but still dark when I set off.

The Dunan Star must have been out early for she was already lifting her trawl aboard before 9:00am, unusual here for a Sunday.

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The SDMO SH6000 petrol generator is far from the ideal or suitable machine to power an ‘off grid’ property. With a 13HP Honda GX390 as the ‘prime mover’ it’s pretty boodly thirsty, however it is quiet and starts easily. Unlike the brand new Stephill SSD6000 diesel supplied and fitted by a ‘reputable’ firm in England. And whilst it’s extremely frustrating I don’t think there’s a great deal wrong with the Stephill other than the clowns who fitted it.

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The Honda had recently had an oil change and I confined my work to a new recoil assembly and air filter. Starting her up easily when finished and leaving to running to put some life into the 10kWh BYD LiFePO4 battery pack which was down at 37% http://www.byd.com/cn/en/byd_enproductandsolutions/newenergy_mob.html

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With the Honda purring away I set off to do some road repairs,

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sure, this is what I pay my Council Tax for but to be honest it’s actually easier making ‘run off’s’ with a spade than getting sense out of HRC. Why the feck they cannot drive around with a spade and do it themselves is beyond me. No they’ll just wait until potholes are deep enough to damage a car then pay a contractor to patch the holes and leave the root cause of the problem (water lying on the road) to make the next feckin pothole. I despair, not to mention have to fit yet more suspension joints and bushes to my cars to get them through the MOT Sad smile

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That done I continued on to Torran doing more of the same,

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the Council having long given up on repairing this track. They used to maintain it when I first moved here in the late eighties, now they do ‘feck all’ yet still charge full council tax to the properties it serves. Leaving path repairs to Raasay volunteers and the people who live here.

After breakfast at Torran and Molly drying herself we returned to Brochel to check on progress, calling at Brochel Loch on the way back.

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The batteries being at a healthy 60% I left the solar panels to finish off, though there wouldn’t have been much from them yesterday Smile

December 7, 2019

Job done :-(

Filed under: daily doings, food, pigs — Tags: , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:05 am

Well, that’s the worst of it over and I can at least stop worrying about having to get home and feed the pigs, for they are now at Torran in several pieces. As is often the case it’s very easy to get attached to pigs you rear for several months. Snowy and May being no exception, but they were at least spared a long trip to an abattoir and had a ‘full and happy life’ charging around the North End for far longer than your commercial breakfast bacon. Sure it’s far easier for me to just load them into the trailer, take em to Dingwall and let John Munro https://www.munrodingwall.co.uk/abattoir deal with them. They’re professional, deal with the pigs respectfully and will deliver them back to Sconser in boxes. Not only that but I can fill up with ‘tinned toms’ muesli and Greek yoghurt from Lidl at the same time as well as do my Christmas shopping Smile Still ‘where’s the fun in that’? Whilst ‘fun’ isn’t really the right word, the ‘teamwork’ required in the whole weekend operation I do enjoy. Every year it get easier, perhaps not emotionally but certainly operationally.

As with many things preparation is the key and that’s what I was doing for a few days before,

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getting the cast iron boiler in position and fixing it’s chimney. Even doing some work on the Torran track to ease the carriage of the carcasses to the butchers.

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It wouldn’t be the first time we’ve lost half a pig out of the trailer on the way over Smile Once all was ready on the ‘pig front’ I turned my attention to my wife’s Subaru Forester that was needing a new power steering pump and some belts.

Subaru Forester SG5 power steering pump

The power steering on Wifey’s 2004 Forester had been making a noise when cold for some time allied with heavy steering at the same time. Classic symptoms of a loose belt, but it wasn’t cos I’d checked that several times. Anyway, last week the belt (which also drives the alternator) snapped and examination of it seemed to suggest the pump or even alternator had been seizing or at least becoming so tight as to burn the belt. Both seemed free enough when turned by hand but I figured it was more likely the pump would be binding when cold than the alternator. With that in mind I ordered new belts and a pump.

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The pump does sit quite high up on the engine and whilst a little fiddly to change is quite straightforward. Initially it looks like you just need to remove the belt guards, pipes, wiring and three mounting bolts, 2x12mm and one 14mm. However, the long M10 (14mm spanner) pivot bolt will not come all the way out as it fouls the thermostat. To get round this you have to remove some but not all of the mounting bolts for its bracket. They are all 12mm, one at the rear vertically and two at the front horizontally. I found that by just removing two of them and loosening one there was enough movement in the bracket to remove the long pivot bolt and pump. Replacement was just the reverse and my wife now has a lovely quiet Subaru with light steering and no lights on the dash Smile

DON’T Look

The team arrived in the afternoon and like myself, they’re getting old Smile Normally they’d turn up in the dark after travelling in from Europe and London and we’d start on the pigs right away. Ten years on we’re all ‘older and wiser’, they arrived in daylight and planned to start work in the morning. This was absolutely ‘damn fine splendid’ with me and after shipping all that was required to Torran I joined them in some roast venison.

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This being a real surgeon sharpening his knives Smile

I mean it REALLY, don’t click on these images if you’re squeamish

So, after an excellent dinner and making plans for the killing I wobbled home with Molly, had a great night’s sleep then fired up the boiler.

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It takes around two hours to heat the 100lts up from cold to the ideal temperature of 80 degrees Celsius and it was just about right when the team turned up at 9:00am.

May and Snowy were very close by but out of sight so it was no bother to lead May out of the enclosure first and down to the shed where I shot her in the head at close range with the .243. Making sure she was on ground soft enough to absorb the bullet. For a normal sized pig of around six months age my .22 rimfire would suffice but these two were getting on for ten months and huge.

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Once shot a strop goes around her leg and up she goes, the surgeon makes a swift incision in her jugular and the art dealer and his son pump the forelegs to bleed her out. All the while the collected blood is briskly stirred to prevent it clotting. I then swing her round onto a ladder which is used to lift her onto the bath. This being an innovation we discovered last year, prior to that we always put the pig in the bath. Putting her above it puts her at a better height but more importantly prevents her cooking or you burning your hands.

The temperature of the water is really crucial and I think it’s just over 80 degrees, it has to be hot enough to melt the fat in the follicles that retain the hair but not so hot as it burns you or cooks the meat.

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Theses ‘bells’ and the chain is what is normally used but since we started using the ladder above the bath the chain is no longer required. What you would normally do is pass the chain under the pig and use a sawing motion between two people to remove the hair. Having said that we found a rope was just as good and kinder on the bath Smile The ‘bells’ are just used as scrapers, the hook at the end has always been a mystery, we also found a scallop shell to be quite effective.

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I can’t remember the name for this but it’s a fatty tissue that will be used for making faggots, a new item on the porcine menu this year Smile

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That was it in the slaughterhouse, by 15:00 both of the wee darlings were done and off to the butchers down the road Smile

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Molly and I cleared up then joined the rest of the team for a sumptuous meal of brain and kidney, I kid you not Smile

 

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Though not before the Swiss surgeon did some solo outdoor moonlight butchery Smile

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After that Molly and I wobbled home once more Smile

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