Mr B is one of our most cherished mentors in all questions sheep, so I jumped at the chance to be his hangaround for a day at the slaughterhouse (actually a small family-owned abattoir deep in the countryside).
Not because I have some morbid interest in seeing animals die. I have never seen an animal killed before. Or skinned and gutted and hung to dry... But since we eat meat as well rear animals, I wanted to understand more about the missing link between "bah bah black sheep" and the steak on my plate. At some point we might even want and need to do it ourselves.
When I see the pictures I took, I have mixed feelings.
On the one hand, I feel sad for the animal that was killed. You cannot but feel for it, or you'd be heartless.
On the other hand, it was all a very peaceful and quick process. Mr P-E, the butcher, had a very calming presence and the animal was completely still. No bleating, no screaming, no thrashing about. Just calm.
The other prevailing thought was how fast a living being turns into a piece of meat that most of us feel comfortable looking at. I made myself look throughout, from the shot in the head, the blodletting, the very first cut down its midsection, to the deskinning and the disemboweling. It wasn't fun, but it felt right. If I eat it, I should bloody well know how it is killed.
|Mr B holding his sheep right before it is slaughtered|
|Letting out the blood after the shot to the head|
|Skinning the sheep|
|From sheep to carcass in 45 minutes|