Rachel Wise: Don't play with your food - it's not your friend

Rachel Wise.
Rachel Wise.

Recently I had to rehome a bunch of chops and some roasts and potentially a nice floor rug.

His name was Monsta and he was meant to be in the freezer by now, all packaged and labelled, but instead he is intact and unfrozen (he might be a bit chilly now the weather has turned) and roaming free on a lifestyle block as a pet.

Monsta was never intended as a pet. He was a yearling wether goat whose destiny was always going to be the dinner plate. But Monsta had other plans.

Initially he was easy to think of as ingredients for a nice curry. Apart from the occasional glance to make sure he was fattening up nicely (he was) all the attention he got was when the worm drench came out or he needed to be moved to a fresh paddock.

Then he started to ingratiate himself. He would sneak up quite closely when I was in the paddock for any reason . . . just close enough that I could see his bright eyes and long eyelashes.

As weeks went by he got closer . . . I could see the whiskers on his soft muzzle.

Then he got so close I could accidentally reach out and pat him.

I stopped as soon as I realised what I was doing, but it wasn't long before he was back again for a scratch behind the ears. Then he started following me about.

I explained to him that we couldn't be friends, that the only invitation to a barbecue he was going to get would be as the main course. He ignored what I was saying and nibbled gently on my arm.

Monsta kept up his campaign. He followed me so closely I had to tell him off for treading on my Jandals. He batted his eyelashes, he did cute things like posing on tree stumps and standing on his back legs with his front feet on the gate. The damn animal even frolicked.

Despite reminding myself that he was not a companion animal - except to roast spuds and pumpkin - I was weakening.

Turning to my husband - a confirmed carnivore - for support, I mentioned that the darn goat was getting overly friendly. Yes, he replied . . . he would make someone a lovely pet, seems a shame to eat him.

So much for support. Husband having turned traitor, I decided to advertise the now-pet goat on a local lifestyle site.

Within hours I had a queue of people who wanted a pet goat in their life. Who knew goats were so popular? I could have rehomed a whole herd of Monstas!

By the weekend I had waved my roast goodbye, as he left on the back of a ute to take up his new position as pet and eater of paddock weeds.

There are still chops in the paddock though in the form of Fluffy the sheep, who is looking particularly well rounded and tasty. Unfortunately he has also exhibited a liking for having company and a scratch.

Fluffy has taken over where Monsta left off. He runs up to me when I go into the paddock and he follows me about. His eyelashes aren't as long as Monsta's, I have noticed, and he prefers the top of his head scratched rather than his ears.

But I'm strongly resisting his wiles, for fear that we will end up with nothing but pumpkin soup to sustain us through the winter.

The chickens, however, are not making themselves amenable. They have taken to hanging round the paddock gate like members of a nasty orange-feathered street gang and attacking the dogs as they go through.

The gang is led by the only chook of the mob that I can recognise - she stands out from the others as she is wearing a blue plastic leg-bracelet. She's probably on home detention for some form of thuggery.

I'd happily put her in the pot but the last time we attempted to make a meal of a non-laying laying hen it didn't go well. Tough is an understatement. The only thing that came out of that roasting pan that was remotely edible were the spuds. Even the gravy was chewy.

The inedible roast chook was flung to the pigs. We found it again a couple of months later when we shifted the pig-house. They had tried to stuff it under the floorboards.

As far as pigs go, there are a couple in the pig pen now. Lightning Bolt and Dragon Bolt are definitely not going to become pets, they are to be ham and bacon. No, really.

At least that's what my husband says and I reminded him of that yesterday as he leaned over the side of the pen . . . scratching Lightning Bolt behind the ears.

Don't pat it, I warned him, your food is not your friend!

- Hawkes Bay Today

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