I enjoy surfing the census and the picture of rural life it calls up
For example I pictured the freelance slaughterer Lunn visiting cottages and butchering the store pig which lives at the bottom of the garden and which the family's children had petted and scratched its back and talked too. He would be paid in kind. (refers to a thread in news:soc.genealogy.britain
A friend's mother in Stourbridge became a life time vegetarian when as a child at the table she realised they were eating her old friend.
In the Faroes (literally Sheep-islands) this means binding the legs of the animal, laying it on a table, in the cellar there, and cutting its throat and collecting the blood in a bowl with the younger children helping by stirring the blood to prevent it getting lumpy - before the gut has been washed in order to make the blood sausages. It is mixed with fat, salt and pepper as the basic recipe or with sugar, also a preservative, and raisons - originally dried black currants from the garden - for a sweet version.
Bleeding the animal increases the storage life of the meat..
These days you are meant to use a stunning pistol, a bolt gun, to knock it out first but an old man described to me the old way as not being particularly cruel - "if you cut its throat the animal just falls asleep".
Meanwhile a lot of water is being boiled and the pig's carcase is hung from the cottage eves by its hind legs and scalded and the bristles scraped off.
The meat must be stored for the whole winter or at last at least to Lent, so there is salting and smoking, or thin cut air drying in cold dry places like Swiss mountain valleys.
The vikings had vats of wey for storing food in, and the faeroese get their sheep down from the common grazing of the mountains, sort them by the ear marks, and butcher the sheep at this time of year and hang then hang the specially thin cut and spread carcase in a slatted outhouse to cure and air dry in the sea breezes.
>> Before the 15th century houses had an open hearth in the centre of main living room. Logs were burnt resting on the bar between two “fire dogs”. The introduction of canopies to guide the smoke away led to fireplaces being moved to the wall where the canopies were easier to support.
The fireplaces in medieval [hall] kitchens were extremely wide to accommodate large logs and cooking spits. The opening was spanned by an oak beam or mantel and there was room to sit by the fire, the ingle-nook (from the scots word aingeal meaning fire and nook meaning a corner)
The early 16th Century saw the introduction of the enclosed wall fireplace with the chimneystack containing the flue running up from the hearth. Most hearth openings were rectangular and spanned by a stone or wood lintel. The fireplace was treated as part of the wall but soon became a dominant feature of most rooms with the development of the fire surround or mantelpiece.<<
You eat the sheepheads as a party food - the eyes are a delicacy for favoured guests and the adults tell the children that if they eat the ears they will hear specially well, in fact they are full of gristle and take a long time to chew so meanwhile the adults eat the best parts like the cheeks and tongue. They don't store very well so are often ripe and strong smelling. Drink schnaps and expect 3 days on the toilet afterwards if you have a delicate stomach.
There is an excellent Danish documentary film
in black and white of this kind of out of doors home slaughtering and butchering.
An old farmer (Hans Bondr of Klaksvik
) said to me one sheep per person (per year) is enough meat - "people eat too much meat and it is unhealthy" - his family tend to live to their nineties - tall, thin and active.
Afterwards band members asked "did you get the rhubarb wine?" which was a sign of social acceptance in the village. I had had two glasses with a slice of cake after my faroese language lesson, we used the bible as a text known to me and a child's abc - there was no dictionary in print at that time. (1978 ish)