How to turn an al­paca into din­ner.

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Contents - WORDS DAVID BRIDSON

Slaughtering an­i­mals is a touchy sub­ject for many peo­ple and it was for me too. For years I avoided even watch­ing an­i­mals be­ing killed. How­ever, we have a friend who showed me how to kill a sheep on our old block many years ago. He was so mat­ter-of-fact and con­fi­dent that he in­spired me to try. The first one was the hard­est, but since then I have learned to be­come pro­fi­cient in killing, skinning and clean­ing an­i­mals.

Make no mis­take, death and killing are ugly and un­pleas­ant, even ob­scene. For me, killing the an­i­mal is al­ways the hard part. But once it is dead, it be­comes a mat­ter of turn­ing it into some­thing that can feed the fam­ily. It is a cre­ative act and very sat­is­fy­ing, but never gra­tu­itous. We are deeply re­spect­ful of the an­i­mal in death, as we are while it is liv­ing.

Some peo­ple say that they can­not kill an an­i­mal that is named. For Heather and me, it doesn't af­fect us one way or an­other. Each to his own.

There are al­ways peo­ple out there with more fi­nesse, but I re­ally want to en­cour­age you to try it. I did not grow up know­ing how to kill and butcher an­i­mals, only learn­ing when in my late twen­ties. If I can, you may be able to do so as well.

Once an an­i­mal is dead, it is about dis­man­tling it, a bit like you might do with a mo­tor. For al­pacas, the skins are harder to re­move than for sheep be­cause there is less sub­cu­ta­neous fat. This mean you have to use your knife more and there is a greater chance of dam­ag­ing the pelt with knife cuts or cut­ting into the meat more than you may like to.

I wear gloves, sev­eral pairs dur­ing slaugh­ter. That isn't be­cause I am squea­mish but to keep the meat as clean as I can.

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