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Animal husbandry
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Animal Husbandry 101 - aka taking care of the kids

At just over 40, I’m happy to say that I’m still a bachelor. My mother may not be so thislled about it, but that’s another story. The first time I told her I was planning to have a couple of kids running around my backyard I think she almost fell off her chair with joy. I had to wait for her to catch her breath before finishing the story that they were a couple of goats named Blacky and Dylan. Since then I’ve added to my duties by building a chicken coop for my 9 chickens, and even have offered to have the wife of the Governor tether her horse in the yard.

Animal husbandry is one of those life-changing things you have to experience to truly understand. The joys of the daily feeding and the bond you build with each animal, along with the sadness caused by periodic setbacks, give you a deeper appreciation for what we so easily pick up in the supermarket or have delivered to a restaurant. Raising livestock isn’t a joke or a game. Many Anguillians have put themselves through college by herding goats and selling them to restaurants, supermarkets, and resorts. At holiday times, fresh local pork and beef are also available. On an island that is said to have more goats than people, shepherding is big business.

In the old days, the village butcher did most of his work on the weekends. Saturday was a big day when a neighbor would pick an animal and lead it down to his shop. Beforehand, he would put out the word that there would be fresh meat available and people would put their requests in for their desired cuts. Nothing was wasted. Every morsel from the first to the last became part of something, whether it was blood pudding or souse or sausage and stew. Many of the pieces were salted and dried on the roof or corned for later use. Meat was traded and given as gifts and was deeply prized, not taken for granted as we do now.

My animal tending is not nearly so serious. I love sitting on the porch in the late afternoon when the sun and temperature are going down and watching the baby goats play “king of the mountain” on their mother’s back or having them baaaaaaah for their breakfast when they first see me walking around the house in the morning. It makes you feel needed and loved. But don’t get me wrong, these guys aren’t pets. Goat stew (called “goat water” on Anguilla) is one of the national dishes and since these aren’t dairy goats, you know where they’re headed. To remind my friends and myself not to get too attached, I’ve named the last two kids Sweet and Succulent. I feed them mimosa and wild island sage so they’ll definitely be self-basting and tasty through and through.

I’ve named my chickens too, which is a bad start if you are planning to have stewed fowl or curried chicken on the menu. For now I’m enjoying their eggs of all sizes and the way they gather at the fence and await my arrival with papaya scraps, mango pits, and their favorite, corn on the cob. No matter how good I think I clean those cobs, they can do it better. Cleve, one of the lead gardeners at CuisinArt’s hydroponic farm, built my chicken coop. I asked him to build an Island house from leftover corrugated metal and construction castaways. What a beautiful job he did. We finished it with wooden wine crates for nesting and a sea-cured driftwood-roosting pole that they all gather on after the sun goes down. They must be the most spoiled chickens on Anguilla. I guess I make a good husband after all!




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