Friday, October 13, 2017

A Cultural Exchange Courtesy of Craigslist

A. decided last week to list his remaining three ram lambs for sale on Craigslist, either for butchering or breeding. One less thing--or rather, three less things--to worry about with a baby due any day. Plus, we thought it would be nice to get some cash for some of the lambs and then buy a half of a cow for some variety from lamb meat.

On the very same day he got sick of dealing with the escaping lamb and slaughtered it, he got a call about the Craigslist ad. It was a man from Vermont who didn't speak particularly good English, but managed to get across that yes, he wanted to buy the lambs, and he wanted to slaughter them himself.

A. figured he was Muslim and wanted to follow the Islamic law of halal by making sure they were properly slaughtered. So he arranged for the man and his friend to come this morning to slaughter the lambs here.

They rolled up in a maroon Toyota Scion at 11:30, exchanged their bright white sneakers for slightly older white sneakers, pulled some beat-up track pants over their jeans, and pulled out their fillet knives. Approximately three minutes later, the lambs were on the ground and kicking their last.

These were obviously some men who have slaughtered sheep before.

A. then helped them bring the lambs to the back of the house where he hangs them to work on skinning and gutting and so forth. And then A. got an education in how a Bosnian butchers a sheep.

Because it turns out that the men were from Bosnia, and they had a very particular method of butchering. The one guy who seemed to be the more professional butcher told A. he could start skinning one, but when he saw how A. did it, he jumped in and took over. And then proceeded to cut the hide off so cleanly the resulting hide was perfectly smooth on the skin side.

They kept the head, tail, and everything else on and just skinned the whole thing. After the skinning, they removed the innards in one go and separated out the lungs, heart, and liver in one big chunk for separate cooking.

The man who was doing less of the work told me these lambs were for a wedding, and showed me on his smart phone a video of how they cook them. The entire lamb is put on a wooden pole, which sticks out through the mouth and the rear, and then the pole is attached to an electric rotisserie device--brought, apparently, from Bosnia--which is in turn hooked up to a generator so the animal continues to turn without any further labor from the cooks.

The same guy handed a spectating Jack twenty dollars and told him to buy some chocolate*.

The men worked for almost exactly two hours, finishing up by carefully wrapping the lambs up in plastic bags, along with the boxes of the innards they wanted to take with them.

Then they paid A., pressed an apple into Jack's hands, and drove back to Vermont.

They were very nice men, and it was extremely educational for A. to see how an expert dresses out a lamb. Plus, now we have cash in hand and an extra apple in exchange for two lambs we don't have to butcher ourselves.

Works for me.

* I took the twenty dollars for safekeeping and future chocolate buying, as I don't think Jack is getting to the store anytime soon.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Of Cookies and Carcasses

Two important food-related events yesterday: I finally made a double batch of chocolate chip cookies, and A. slaughtered another lamb.

The reason I made the cookies is because Charlie happened to be assigned the class Halloween party as his turn to bring in a treat, and I really don't think I'm going to be up to treat-making at the end of this month. So I decided to make a bunch of cookies and freeze half of them so I can just pull them out of the freezer and send them in on October 31*.

They're not as fun as, like, cupcakes decorated to look like ghosts or something, but they're better than buying a box of Little Debbie snack cakes, right? And anyway, the odds of me making intricately decorated ghost cupcakes are . . . well, it's not going to happen even when I don't have a newborn baby.

And by the way, baking chocolate chip cookies when on a restricted diet due to gestational diabetes is no fun at all. All that delicious cookie dough . . .


A. slaughtered the lamb because it kept escaping the pen, and after the fourth time it got out yesterday morning, he decided the forecast was favorable enough to hang meat. And just like that, that lamb was done for.

You did it to yourself, lamb.

So my mom was going down the stairs yesterday with Jack to play in the playroom and was treated to the sight of A. skinning the hanging sheep just outside the downstairs door. We may not live at Blackrock anymore, but we still know how to roll out the welcome mat for guests.

I suspect testicle parmigiana might be on the menu tonight. I'd rather eat the cookies, but I suppose I'll have to content myself with roasted vegetables. Whee.

* The first person to so much as whisper the word "nesting" gets a chocolate chip up the nose.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Bonding Moments

Although there isn't much about being hugely and unmistakably pregnant that I enjoy, one thing I do find endlessly amusing is the comments it inspires in other people.

Now that it's obvious I'm pregnant and not just hopelessly addicted to doughnuts (how I wish . . .), total strangers ask me when I'm due and then invariably tell me how many children they have. Usually they ask if I'm having a boy or a girl, and when I say our first girl after three boys, they are always delighted and then tell me the breakdown of the sexes among their own children.

The elderly gentleman at church on Sunday who asked me when "the blessed event" is shared that he had eight children--five girls and three boys.

One woman told me she had five boys. I told her she got me beat.

The woman at the grocery store today told me she had four girls and one boy, and the boy was the easy one: "No drama."

My favorite, however, was when the priest offered a blessing for "expectant parents," at which point I'm pretty sure the entire church was staring at us, and then a lady stopped me after church to tell me that she was glad he prayed for me because she sees us every week and I look like I could use prayers.

I was not entirely sure how to respond to that, but I thought it was very funny.

She hurried on to tell me that it's obvious I'm doing very well with our current children, but that she doesn't know how I do it. She didn't tell me if she has any children. Maybe not, which might account for her undeserved admiration.

Or maybe she had ten kids of her own and remembered what it was like to try to contain multiple small bodies for an hour while in the advanced stages of pregnancy with another. She didn't say. But I kind of wished she had.