We have learned the hard way that slaughterhouses are places not only of killing, but also of a more mundane kind of shady business. We had been going to a local abbatoir for our pigs until we realized, on our last visit, that they had shorted us by about two dozen pounds of meat – meat that would be sold for $11/lb. It was not a negligeable amount. Though, which cuts were missing, we had no way of knowing for sure. The fat was particularly low, though.
I use fat to make lard for pastry – it is of significantly better quality than Tenderflake, the standard store-shelf lard, which is heavily processed and hardly digestible. Good lard is hard to find – few farmers who keep their own lard have enough to sell, and I don't know where the rest of it goes, but abbatoirs don't seem to have a lot on hand.
We went to another abbatoir further away this last time – in fact, a good hour away, hoping that we would have better luck. Sure enough, upon returning from our second long trip to pick up the meat we had delivered a week previous, we realized the fat we had requested had been left out altgother.
We made the third trip this week.
Since we began farming, we have had no expectation of taking summer vacations, but this was an opportunity to make use of a business trip to enjoy a few hours of leisure before heading back to do afternoon feeding, weeding, strawberry picking, watering, steamed bun making, wood stacking, goat herding, garlic scape picking, and supper.
What a day it was: we got to the abbatoir minutes before they were to close for lunch, picked up the bag of white mass, stuck it in the cooler, and drove back towards the tourist towns of the county, stopping along the highway at a couple of farmgates – little tables set up in some places, others elaborate structures, some stores with proper cash registers.
We took note of the way people interacted, the displays, and the food itself. Generally, there was nothing memorable – cherries, raspberries, a feta and spinach pastry with a waffled surface, a loaf of bread – but it was certainly more satisfying than what we usually accept as road food.
As we were driving on the 401 earlier in the day, I had noticed Denny's after Denny's, McDonald's after McDonald's, Tim Hortonses everywhere...and asked XB, “isn't it strange that these few companies, owned by a tiny proportion of the population, people who live far away and have never been to Napanee or Picton, are everywhere, absolutely everywhere except for dying towns like ours?”
We headed south at the County's main town, wound along nice two-lane highways, and after a few turns and twenty minutes, arrived at the winery owned by people who vend at one of the farmers market we do.
We were served samples of five wines, and two cheeses, and I, for the first time, noticed interesting flavours and characters in wine.
The little detours brought out an enjoyment that is hard to come by when you have more time and money than you need. There was no time for the squabbles and boredom that happen on extended vacations, nor was there enough spending opportunity on the few stops we made, to feel like money was pouring out.
We bought a bottle of wine and a block of cheese and drove back through the main town, across the lake, and stopped on the native reserve just outside of Deseronto, at a tiny cafe.
We ordered a coffee and a smoothie, browsed some of the native crafts, the bear cream, the wall of aboriginal artists' CDs. The owner invited us to stop out back and see the yard where summer concerts are held, and have a seat in the teepee, drink our drinks in there if we wanted. We sat down, it was comfortable, cooler and nicely shaded.
After a few more minutes by the water, seeing people waterskiing, hearing the buzz of motoboats, and breifly revisiting the Canadian dream, we got back in the car and drove back to the farm.