Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Meat in the Freezer

With the ground thoroughly frozen, aside from the freak rain lately, there isn't much going on in the garden. We harvested a handful of carrots last month which marked the absolute last of our 2009 produce. The one thing we were able to harvest was a bit of meat.

One of our major goals with livestock is to raise multi-purpose animals. We've chosen animals which, with hopefully minimal upkeep, will live long productive and happy lives. Since we are not raising them for meat, hunting has become a valuable alternative to buying meat. What was once common practice in Chester County has quickly become a taboo. Within the past 20 to 30 years much of the wooded land for hunting has been developed. In my early teens I hunted small game but like the new norm in these parts I opted for video games and indoor hobbies during high school and college.

I never gave up my love of being in the woods and the recognition of the natural world that hunting provides.

In the fall of 2008 I had the chance to go on a Pronghorn Antelope hunt in Wyoming which was an amazing experience and I brought home some wonderful (though slightly gamey) range fed meat. It was a shame that I had to travel halfway across the country for my first big game. This year I was determined to hunt local and was able to harvest a modest 32 lbs of Pennsylvania Whitetail Deer.
We cooked up a bit of the venison in shepherd's pie made with some of those carrots I mentioned earlier. It turned out to be my absolute favorite meal in recent memory.

I'm hopeful that social trends can shift in favor of responsible hunting to help regulate the ecosystems we live in. Hunting can help lower the number of deer hit by cars, prevent the cost and waste while at the same time reducing our consumption of less healthy imported meat. We've removed the original predators and it seems there should be an obligation to take their place in a sustainable way.

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