Life at the end of the road

April 21, 2008

How to shuck a scallop

Filed under: daily doings, How I — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:09 pm

Another first class day and I don’t think I can stand much more of it! Don’t get me wrong I love it but I’m worn out with all the work and socialising  I’ve been doing and to be honest I’ll be quite glad to get back to the ‘Loch Striven’ on Wednesday for a rest. According to  UK Wind Map the weathers going to break on Wednesday anyway and as it’s usually pretty good I’m sure it will as the chart shows a big low sat out in the Atlantic. Todays first job after feeding was to go out and cut fresh bedding.

We use rushes simply because there’s nothing else available, cutting a weeks or two’s supply at a time and storing it in our trailer on pallets to let the air get round it. It works quite well but gets complicated if we need the trailer and pretty soon the stuff will be full of ticks. They don’t seem to bother the pigs but the last thing I want is to contract Limes disease from a deer tick. I need to make somewhere that I can store a few big bales of straw out of the weather, anywhere else you’d manage with some pallets and a tarpaulin but here things need to be well anchored down or they take off. Mrs C and I had another good look and feel at Jamie lea’s belly today and I swear she’s got a full football team inside her judging by all the kicking that’s going on. Her nipples seem to be swelling a little but there’s no sign of milk yet but I reckon she’s not far away but as I’ve said before I’m no expert (on anything). As the croft is finally starting to dry out I spent the rest of the day (aided by mrs C) sorting a drain near the fence in the field were Shona will hopefully farrow in a few weeks, though if she’s as late as Jamie Lea it could be months!

To be honest the pigs are on time it’s our counting that’s rubbish. Anyway there’s allot more rock needs putting around this drain and fence before it’s finished and apart from filling my diving cylinder and putting my gear away that’s about it. We had planned on something scallop or crab related for dinner but in the end just finished off the leftovers from last nights barbecue as all three of us were pretty tired. Having spent a good part of my adult life catching and farming scallops they are still one of my favourite things from the sea as they are so versatile, I’ve had them all ways from raw to charcoal and will pass on the recipes as we work our way through yesterdays catch but for now here’s ‘How to clean a scallop’

Shucking a scallop

First of all I must apologise for the missing pictures but the Dude took them and he’s only 8

Take a 4 or 5 inch long knife that is sharp on the blade but not at the point. You can shuck a scallop with any knife your just allot less likely to stab yourself if it has a rounded end.

The one on the right is good the one on the left not so good. Take scallop in left hand (if right handed) with the curved side in the palm of your hand the flat side up and the hinge away from you, slip the knife in at the right hand side of the shell withe the cutting edge away from you. You are going to cut the muscle as close to the upper shell as possible so keep the pressure upwards and push the knife away from you towards your fingers.

This is the knife just going in, it needs to be in as far as the handle before you cut. Once cut just flip up the flat part of the shell and the top part of the mantel ( the frilly bit round the edge ) should come away with it. Then trap the top gill between your thumb and the knife and just tear it off.

Just click on the image to enlarge, with the top gill of just stick the knife in the muscle at about 11 o clock ( just to the left of the hinge around the squirty thing ) and cut through the muscle where it attaches to the curved side and as your doing this lift the shell vertically so gravity will assist you as you cut through the muscle and tear off the bottom gill.

This pic is tilted for the camera, as you do it your better having the hinge higher, almost vertical in fact and the muscle with roe attached will fall into your hand.

The creels are out but the piglets are still in!

Filed under: daily doings — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 6:45 am

The weather is so good that I’m starting to get used to it (which is always a mistake) as my memory is shocking. Usually I have to put things away or at least tie them down for fear of them blowing away or getting waterlogged but the weather has been so settled of late that I’ve been leaving things out which is fine if I remember to put them away before the weather breaks. First job was to feed all the animals and as the two Tamworth sows have been separated from Ginger (the Tamworth boar) I let them out on the hill at the back of the croft. We already have 5 weaners on the hill so this move could end up being interesting at the next feeding if they start hanging about together but I took the risk hoping I could separate them later in the day if necessary. They have plenty of room in the field that I let them out of but they just love the freedom of rooting about on the hill. You can tell by watching them as they prance about, they also sleep allot less and are not pestering to be fed by 4:00 in the evening.

Still no piglets!

Jamie Lea is now 2 or 3 weeks overdue (mrs C and I are arguing over this I say 3 she says 2) and we’re beginning to think that Ginger has started ‘firing blanks’ due to his traumatic time in the ditch before Christmas (He almost drowned, see the disasters section). If he were dud the the sows and gilts would be coming into heat every 3 weeks which they don’t appear to be but as we’re no experts in the field of pig management (or anything else come to that) we were beginning to think we’d missed the signs. Anyway I don’t think Ginger will be going for sausages just yet as we both had a good feel at her stomach as she lay in the sun and there seems to be lots of lumps and kicking going on in there so fingers crossed it should be soon.

The first fishing trip

Having been getting all nostalgic about my ‘clam diving’ days and being as how this is the time of year when the first lobsters start to appear I’d set aside the afternoon for a fishing trip with the Dude and promised myself I’d not get distracted by painting or planting or anything essential. So after a couple of hours with the brush on the garden fences and a spell of repairing some creels the Dude and I set off down to the shore leaving mrs C to get on with planting the carrots, parsnips, peas and potatoes (typical guys). Having failed miserably in the hunting for rabbit (as bait) department and knowing how lousy the pair of us are at rod fishing we took a can of cat food and some old socks just in case.

And sure enough after an hours fruitless casting we had to open the cat food!

The Dudes old socks made excellent bait bags and I really do need a hair cut. Once the creels were out we set off to Fladda to pick some wilks (whelks, perrywinkles) and mussels for tonights planned barbecue. Picking wilks on a sunny afternoon in April can be quite addictive even therapeutic but grubbing about on the shore in a blizzard in December is a whole different matter. The price for these wee snail like mollusc’s goes through the roof then and a few afternoons work in December can net a nice Christmas bonus but it’s well earned. With our wee bucket of wilks and handful of mussels we set off for Grian a sgier a small green island west of Fladda. The name means sunny skerry in Gaelic and it’s well named as many are the days it’s bathed in a ray of light whilst all around is in shadow, we were going here to get the most beautiful shell sand you’ve ever seen for the hens and as we arrived 25 seals came out to meet us!

After a spot of beach combing we returned, left the boat on the mooring and I went in to check the mooring and see what I could find in the way of scallops.

It’s a bit like riding a bike you never forget how to do it, in a few minutes I’d a couple of dozen clams and two bonny cock crabs. This bag is the most essential bit of a ‘clam divers’ kit well apart from the diving gear and boat. I have several but this is my favourite one and can hold around 160 scallops (about 40k) It’s had several new bottoms sewn in over the years and is made from old trawl netting found on the shore but it’s most essential attribute is a 10″ ring made from plastic water pipe sewn around the top. This makes putting things in the bag MUCH easier and without it the bag looses shape. As the bag is filled, air (from your regulator) is added to the float to make it easier to swim with. Normally I’d have 60m of 8mm rope and a small float attached to it then the boatman could follow me. This also means you can leave the bag on the sea bed using the rope as a shotline for ‘decompressing’ if required. Today however was just a quick dip to check the mooring and pick up some grub for tonights barbecue. Once home it was pig feeding time and as Braken and Bramble were still grubbing about on the hill away from the weaners I fed them out there.

With our bounty of scallops, wilks, mussels, 7 good friends, several bottles of red wine, various chops, drumsticks and Niel Tallachs home made burgers (which I must get the recipe for) we finished off the day around the barbecue. I’ve never done mussels or wilks on a barbecue before, I just chucked them in the embers for a minute, pulled the wilks out with tongues and used leather glove to hold them whilst I teased the meat out with a cocktail stick, it was a lot of effort for not much reward. The mussels on the other hand were delicious. After a good feed Niel, John and myself went to scratch the bellies of a few pigs and watch the sun go down with a glass of wine.

All in all (apart from this mornings headache) it was a most satisfying day. I’ll do a post later on how to dress a crab and clean scallops but for now the day is far too nice for plonking away on here at 31.2kbps!

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