Christmas already?!!!

14 11 2009

Sadly, yes, it is approaching like a steam train, and November for us is the month where we process like mad to get everything organised and ready for sending out for Christmas. I have to admit that it does seem that Christmas markets, advertising etc all seems to be creeping earlier and earlier into the year – this does kind of grate the wrong way for me – it does cause an inner conflict at times – but then this is our busiest time of year with the meat processing, so we have to join in with the rest of them.

Having said all the above, we are very proud of what we produce for the Christmas markets, and there is a great sense of contentment knowing that something you have produced is being enjoyed by many families during the festive season. I shall share a sneak preview, and when you’re ready to start thinking about ordering your Christmas Fayre, perhaps you’ll go and have a proper look at the goodies we are creating at the Skye Food Company website.

Free Range Orbost Chicken Chipolata Sausages








Mutton roastvenison roast Today we’ve been making sausages and bacon, tomorrow is mutton ham and mutton roasts, next week is highland beef, and thereafter venison, free range chickens and free range turkeys.  We’ve got markets to attend for the next three weekends – the one which we enjoy most is the Victorian Market at Brodie Castle, which this year is on the 28th and 29th November. We get all dressed up in Victorian garb and sell our wares in a stunning Victorian Kitchen in the castle. Jess and Tristan get in on the act too, selling their Christmas Cards, and spending quite a lot of time loitering next to the Chocolate Bothy stall!


In other news, my Dad survived the weather and living with the Jacksons for 3 weeks, and has now gone back to Australia, where the weather is quite a bit kinder than it is here just now! It was great having Dad to visit, and he helped hold the fort together with remarkable calm and demure! We all went over to Applecross last Sunday for a last day out before he left, and we caught up with Heather and Andy and the kids. It was a stunning day, and so good to catch up with our Applecross friends. We visited Monty’s bothy, which sadly is still looking a bit lost and neglected – I do wish someone could take it on and bring it back to life.

the bothy at Applecross

YES I KNOW – It’s the wrong way around……I promise it is my computer!!! When I look at it on my computer it is most definitely the right way round….somewhere in the ether between my computer and this page it has rotated itself……what can I say….heads to the left!! Misty is quite a lot bigger now….she’s just 11 months, and just seems to keep on growing!

Well, off to print labels now, sausages! We’ll emerge somewhere 6 weeks hence wondering where the time has gone….is it Christmas already??!!!




Daytrip to Applecross and Mutton vs Lamb

24 03 2009

On Sunday we traveled to Applecross to spend the day with some of the friends we made during the filming of Monty Hall’s Great Escape, and to catch up with Monty as well, who was visiting his old haunt. It was such a fantastic day seeing everyone again and catching up on all the goss……. (an essential tool in highland culture!) We went down to see the bothy – the kids were so excited to be back there – Jess is normally the composed child, but even she went tearing down across the bay towards the bothy, shouting wildly as she went. I’ve got to say Keith and I were a bit sad to see it all shut up and no animals there anymore, but hopefully the Applecross Trust will decide soon how it can be kept alive and running……in the mean time there is a visitor’s book in the bothy and it was great to read the huge numbers of comments that have already been left there. We had a chilled out lunch in the walled garden, spent the afternoon with local friends reminiscing, and then headed off the Applecross Inn for dinner (best pub meal we have ever had!) and watching episode 4 of Monty Hall’s Great Escape…..the home kill sheep episode. The taking of any animal life has to be a respectful and as stress free as possible act, and hats off to Monty for achieving what he did…….using as much as possible from the animal and doing it justice by taking the time to produce wonderful quality food for him to live off. (I did feel kind of sorry for the folk who were still eating their dinner in the pub at the time…) A great evening was had by all, and I’m glad we made the journey.

Keith and Monty putting the world to right

It was all too much for Jess!

So now we get to the bit about mutton – say mutton to everyday folk, and try as they might there is generally a turning up of the lip and a look of apprehension, unless of course they have tried properly produced mutton, in which case there is an air of delight! Historically in the Highlands, sheep were bred for their wool and were extremely valuable, the everyday people only got to eat something called ‘Braxie’ mutton – meat from sheep that had died from the clostridial disease Braxie. It was salted and slow cooked, and a rare delicacy (I must say the idea is somewhat disturbing to me, but that is what used to happen). ‘Mutton’ for the upper classes went out of fashion with Queen Victoria who did not have much of a passion for it, and therefore it became unfashionable. A few hundred years on, and there is a mutton revival going on – we are definitely on the band wagon and totally passionate about it. Officially sheep meat is lamb until the sheep cuts its second teeth (around a year old) when it becomes mutton (or hoggit, but let’s not get too complicated!). For a commercial breed of sheep that is mass produced for fast growth and maturity, then lamb is a perfectly respectable outcome – but for an exquisitely tasting Sunday roast, then mutton from slow matured native breeds of sheep is the way to go every time! You see, the argument isn’t lamb vs mutton at all – the thing that matters is when is the animal ready and in it’s prime? For native, naturally reared and naturally grown sheep this means by default that they are 2 to 3 years old before being ready – this classes the meat as mutton, but really it is unintensively grown lamb ready and in its prime to produce a perfect roast.

Keith and I have spent the last 7 years researching and developing mutton products as part of our business, and we reckon we have found the perfect marriage of past and present by producing our 2 year old native breed mutton hams (salted mutton without the clostridial disease!!!). It is exquisite, and we’ve not yet met someone who hasn’t been converted after trying it! Monty hot smoked his mutton ham, but equally it can be enjoyed slow roasted in orange juice or even coke (bubbles do some crazy flavouring!).

So if you are in the group of people who would have normally looked horrified at the thought of mutton, I challenge you to get out there and try it – if it helps, think of it as unintensively grown lamb – I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised!