Thursday, December 15, 2011

Phil Vickery cooking mutton & spuds in the Falklands

I have just heard on the radio that Phil Vickery the chef may be coming to the Falklands in May next year.  I'm wondering what he might do with mutton and spuds.  I love mutton and spuds with proper pan gravy.  There was a time before the war when mutton was our staple diet but there is now a much bigger variety of foods eaten by Falkland Islanders.  I'm thinking it is probably a bit late in the season.  It will almost be mid winter so all our fresh produce that is coming on now will be past its best.
On George Island life is still busy.  On Tuesday Tanya flew to Stanley to do her hairdressing.  Shaun and Christopher gathered in a cut of ewes, lambs and hogs.  In the afternoon we picked off the 30 biggest wether lambs, marked all the ewe lambs and any wether lambs that came in that were not big enough to slaughter for Xmas.  Over the last couple of weeks I have sent letters/e-mails out to our regular customers that purchase lamb of us for Christmas to see what their requirements were this year and advise them of a price increase.  We have provided 100 to 120 lambs to Stanley every year since we purchased George Island.  Christmas lamb is our traditional Christmas day lunch in the Falklands.  It is suckling lamb approx. 12 weeks old and is served with new potatoes and a variety of fresh veg i.e. cabbage, cauli, brussel sprouts, carrots, proper pan gravy and mint sauce. Our customer base is pretty loyal and the same people order each year.  I already have orders for 120 lamb this year and have now had to turn at least  a dozen more down from potential new customers.  We are now at a cross roads, the abattoir prices have now risen to a point that if we were to run these particular animals through to the end of February they would bring in approx £30.00.  We are currently selling them for £24.00 halved or £27.00 butchered but we pick up the freight bill on the Islander aircraft which is 30p/kilo.  This means we are paying approx £3.00 freight per carcase plus we have them delivered in Stanley.  10 years ago this was a good deal for us and although we have increased the price over the years to cover the increase in air freight we haven't increased the price of the product.  Selling early suits us because it lightens the island out but at the end of the day we are a business and we are getting to a point were it is foolish to be selling at these prices.  Of course the alternative is to put the prices up by £6 or £7 per head.  This would bring it in line with the abattoir as we also have to pay freight to get the lamb to the abattoir by Concordia Bay.  Such a large increase would obviously be very unpopular with our customers. We are going to have to put some serious thought into the situation before next Xmas.
Yesterday Christopher and Shaun slaughtered 30 lamb and in the afternoon we shore  approx 50 hogs.  It was hot and I wished I was 20 years younger  The hog fleeces were very big, very dusty and very shitty. It is not so bad if the shit is dry but this was squelchy.  It was a real struggle to keep up even though they assured me they were shearing slowly.  Wool carrying has become more difficult to do by yourself because the shearers expect you to take the shit of the fleece while it is still on the sheep being shorn.  This makes it better for the shearer and better for when the fleece is on the table but you only have a finite period of time when the sheep is in the position when you can get it.  This means you will be cleaning a fleece on the table, taking any stain off that you have missed on the floor and also taking the neck off if it is contaminated with grass etc.  In the middle of doing this one of the shearers is at that finite point when you have to run from the table leaving what you are doing to get the shit of their fleece.  In the past the whole fleece was cleaned on the table so you didn't have to abandon what you were doing to rush away.  Needless to say I didn't get them all cleaned and retrained the boys to shout wet shit if it really needed to be removed on the floor. At the same time you have to keep the floor swept to stop any wool going out the portholes, pick out any skin that might be on the wool if the sheep has been accidentally cut. Oh and if Ive still got time he would quite like me to put the cleaned and rolled fleeces into the hand press. Oh and not just throw them in, place them in so they are in level layers of 4 so that the press will press them evenly.
Today we are waiting for the plane to take the lamb away.  Shaun and Christopher have been out since 6 o'clock splitting and butchering the lamb.  The day is calm again and absolutely scorching but the plane is delayed because a lot of the islands are fogged in.  We were earlier but it has all burnt off now.  We are desperate to get the lamb in because it is bagged now and it is definitely plus 20 degrees out there.
In between shearing and lambmarking I have been weeding the garden.  It is a bit dissapointing because a lot of the small seed obviously blew out.  I have one half all weeded and I am just about to slap on some sun cream to hopefully stop my nose from peeling any more and head out to the garden and start the other half.

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