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Lights flickered in the farmhouse kitchen. Snow swirled outside. A Little Owl shrieked as it veered between the ice-laden branches of the great oak. Somewhere, a wolf howled. Well, that bit’s not true. But this is….

Uttering tiny grunts as she swung the hatchet, a light sheen of sweat on her brow, wiped swiftly with the back of a bloodied hand, Sarah hacked at the corpse that lay on the kitchen table. Bone cracked. Muscle sagged apart. From time to time, she consulted the stained pages of her guide to lamb butchery, swore –  ‘bollocks, I got the cut wrong up the spine’ – and carried on carving the meat into freezer-sized lumps.

Yes, one of Sarah’s dreams had come true (bees being the other one). A whole lamb had been delivered by the farmer whose sheep we host for the winter as payment in kind. And Sarah could at last put the skills learned on last year’s butchery course into practise.

It was scary to watch. This really quite small woman transformed into a swivel-eyed, cleaver-wielding demon. And in spite of the protestations of a perfectionist, we now have a freezer with about 40 mega meals of lamb of various sorts, all perfectly cut.

My contribution was to salvage the kidneys, which I like, and Sarah was going to feed to the foxes. And I strung up lumps of discarded fat on wire for the birds. I did get into trouble in the early stages while she agonised over where to start, because I suggested cutting off the back legs and working from there. Seemed straightforward to me but apparently that’s not how it’s done by Proper Butchers, and since she had the razor sharp boning knife and chopper, and blood lust in her eye, who was I to argue?

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