Monday, 22 December 2008
Preparing the Minks'Feed - An Offal Business.
You didn't get "mink-feed" in large paper sacks from the Crofters,or "The National Mink Breeders Federation" or any other source. By the way,that federation didn't exist. It was created for effect! Unlike feed for sheep(of course they harvested hay etc.in 1956!),the feeding of mink was an elaborate affair,where the main constituents had to be fresh,quantities had to be carefully calculated,and various additives had to be sourced outwith Lewis. We would go over to Stornoway once,sometimes twice a week for the protein rich fish and animal offal. The Broad Bay Fish Shop provided the fish,which was in reality the carcass remaining after the fish fillets had been removed. (mainly haddock and whiting,in these days!). The boys in the fish shop kept our fish aside,presumably for a "bung" from Seoras. Our other visit to town on such days was to Stornoway's slaughterhouse(they had one in these days!). The word "slaughterhouse" is very emotive,and one immediately understands what takes place therein. Today,we send our sentient animals to an "abattoir",which derives from a French word(abatre) meaning to "destroy/put an end to".It seems to have gained currency (even in Stornoway) with those of us who prefer to see our sirloin steak tastefully packaged and displayed in the shops. An abattoir by any other name is a gruesome and hellish place,and yet as a 15 year old with George,I didn't really flinch at what I saw.I once visited Dachau "extermination" camp,near Munich in Germany,and I can tell you that I would never visit such a place again. After what I saw in Stornoway's slaughterhouse,I could never ever revisit such a place,nor will I now recall what I saw there. Suffice to say that we collected two bags of sheep/cattle offal to feed the minks in Dalmore. After collecting the usual "proveeshons",only obtainable in the town(for the womenfolk,that is),a visit to the Star Inn was the rule(for the menfolk,that is). In our case,it was whisky for Seoras and a"sarsaparilla" for the boy. Remember,this 15 year old boy had to drive the A.35 van over to the West Side,but was only allowed to steer until we reached Dalmore road end,when I took over full control for the last mile into Dalmore. After a "te bheag" or two,we were off back home, and another batch of mink food had to be prepared. All of the equipment needed for the feed was housed in a purpose built "house" which we called "taigh na mhink",what else. The correct amounts of fish and offal were minced/ground in a large machine,and to this mulch,various other things were added to maintain the mink in the peak of health - an oil(perhaps olive oil),a coarse grain,and a mixture of minerals and vitamins essential for animals that lived entirely in captivity. This slurry mixture had to be of the right consistancy to be placed on top of the cage for the minks to feed,and perhaps for a few death defying seagulls.