Project No-mow

We have four grass-hungry sheep, some empty spaces between gardens and house where the grass grows raggedly, and one guy who hates weedwhacking. Permaculture has a principle “the problem is the solution”… so, this weekend we rigged up chicken wire with t-posts and rebar, and closed off half the yard, and the sheep attacked the grass like ravenous wild beasts. Assuming that 3′ of dainty mesh keeps them in that area and out of the garden, we’d like to protect the small trees in the rest of the yard, and let the sheep really take over mowing duty.

(The sheep have no business being quite that hungry, by the way. They are fat enough that they jiggle when they run; real sheep people tell us the girls need to be on a strict diet).


First: don’t read this if you’re squeamish.

This is a garden blog site, but one thing we grow in our gardens is sheep, which we eat. Now that the garden is resting, and there’s not enough grass left in the pastures for all the sheep, it’s butchering time. We have it done; cutting up meat is quite a skill. But when the mobile butcher normally takes away the “guts” for discard, we try to use as much of them as we can; it honors the sheep to allow him to provide more value to us. At least, this is how we think. To a ex-vegetarian who’s never been much interested in “variety meats” it’s a real challenge; I have enough trouble with roasts, never mind hearts. So there’s a lot of parts that still don’t get used (tongue?), but we do our best.

First, sausage casings are really made of well-cleaned intenstines. It’s laborious but not difficult to clean them. I have a new sausage stuffer, so we made some sausages (defrosted some ground rooster), and fried them up. Amazing to make your own sausages – lamb casings make small sausages, the diameter of a thumb – and the sausages look good and are delicious!

Then, haggis, though I chickened out from using the actual stomach of the sheep. The stomach is impressive to see but not appealing to use for food. Proper haggis contains the liver, heart, and lung, along with oatmeal, onion and spices, and steamed. Traditionally it’s cooked inside the stomach, but I used a foil-covered bowl. It’s not bad, but not that great, either; a fluffy, spicy, dark colored meatloaf with a liver favor. But I don’t like meatloaf that much – Jay does, and he liked the haggis a lot.

Last year we sauteed liver and onions, and used heart and liver in shepherd’s pie, both of which were fine. We still have a liver and a heart left, and four kidneys. Steak and kidney pie?

Another thing that comes from sheep butchering is the skins. We salt and dry them, then send them off to the Amish to be tanned, and get back sheepskins with long, wavy fleece, very soft.

I wish sheep were made entirely from steaks and chops, but they aren’t, and eating meat means taking responsibility; for us “variety meats” are free food that would otherwise be thrown away (commercially they mainly go into pet food), it’s highly nutritious, and most traditional cultures have highly esteemed these parts.

Our deep thanks to Baa-52 and his half brother.