in Mike and the Bush Mechanics on 11 November 2010
I MADE sausages from Elizabeth’s bull, Otto. I’ve got a brother-in-law called Otto and he’s vegetarian. Sorry, Ottos.
As I pushed the meat through the mincer, small pieces stuck to my fingers. I felt like Lady McBeth with King Duncan's blood on her hands. “Out, damned spot!” I cried, rubbing my hands, but the tiny mincelets stuck fast.
I’ve been a polite semi-vegetarian for a few years. I don’t buy and cook meat for myself, but I’ll eat it when I’m a guest. It’s not that I don’t like the flavour of meat, but that for me, it’s better to go without if I’m not sure where it’s from, how it was raised and how it died.
Elizabeth showed me photos of the way Otto died. They hired a “bush butcher” to kill and cut him up. He was in the freezer by the time I arrived, but he’d spent his life grazing happily on their land and servicing the cows a little too often.
While I was mincing, Elizabeth came in and told me that six turkey eggs had just hatched. In the last week, three pregnant goats had given birth to several kids. The young billy goats would be slaughtered, processed for cheese-making rennet and eaten; the she-goats kept or sold.
“Gee, there’s a lot of birth and death going on,” I said.
“Isn’t there?” Elizabeth replied. “It must be spring.”
When I finished the mincing, she added cassava flour, garlic and herbs to one batch, and curry spices to the other. We used hog intestine for the casing. It was – yes, it was – like an endless slimy condom. An unpleasant animal smell overwhelmed the room. When making sausages, you must twist each one the other way to the last, so they don't unravel. I wasn't very dextrous, but I got the job done: two big batches of snags made.
Before I ate, I gave thanks to Otto. I don't terribly much fancy butchering, and I'm not yet sure how much meat I'll eat as time goes on, but the sausages did taste good that night. And at least I knew how they got there, and what was inside them.
Me mincing, all crazy eyed.