How Do I Love Ewe?

February 15, 2018

Jim Mora mentioned the anniversary of the first shipment of frozen meat on the Pre-Panel this afternoon and read a snippet from my ewenique rewriting of Elizabeth Barret Bronwing’s poem:

How Do I Love Ewe? (With apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

How do I love ewe? Let me count the ways

That lamb tempts the taste buds and any hunger stays.

Of course I love ewe roasted, but still a little rare.

And I love ewe butterflied, from all the bones carved bare.

I love you chopped or diced and threaded onto sticks,

With capsicum and onion to get my vege fix.

I love you minced with salad in a burger bun

And chewing on the chop bones is always lots of fun.

I love ewe tender barbequed, the smokey taste sublime,

And shanks cooked long and slow for flavour that’s divine.

I love ewe marinated, with mint or coriander,

And many other ways my appetite ewe pander.

Though, proud Kiwi that I am, would be hard to find one keener,

My favourite way to cook ewe is how it’s done in Argentina:

 

The sheep for that first shipment came from, and were slaughtered at, Totara Estate in North Otago.

It’s now owned by Heritage NZ and is open to the public.

NZ History tells the story of that first shipment here.

 


How Do I Love Ewe?

February 15, 2017

How Do I Love Ewe? (With apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

How do I love ewe? Let me count the ways

That lamb tempts the taste buds and any hunger stays.

Of course I love ewe roasted, but still a little rare.

And I love ewe butterflied, from all the bones carved bare.

I love you chopped or diced and threaded onto sticks,

With capsicum and onion to get my vege fix.

I love you minced with salad in a burger bun

And chewing on the chop bones is always lots of fun.

I love ewe tender barbequed, the smokey taste sublime,

And hocks cooked long and slow for flavour that’s divine.

I love ewe marinated, with mint or coriander,

And many other ways my appetite ewe pander.

Though proud Kiwi that I am, would be hard to find one keener,

My favourite way to cook ewe is how it’s done in Argentina:

 

It’s a date on which the history of New Zealand changed – February 15th, 1882, William Davidson and Thomas Brydone launched the first shipment of frozen sheep meat to London from Port Chalmers in Otago.

New Zealand wasn’t the first country to export frozen meat:

Canning was started in 1869 in New Zealand but only the best meat was preserved.  The rest of the carcass was boiled down for tallow and all offals were wasted.  The returns from these processes were poor and sheep were principally grown for their wool.  In some districts the only practicable way of getting rid of surplus flocks was to drive them over the cliffs into the sea.  (A practice still followed in the Falkland Islands).  

With this background, it is not difficult to imagine the interest which must have been aroused in New Zealand by the various  attempts made by the pioneers of refrigeration to transport  carcasses across the seas.  The first exports of cooled meat to Britain originated in the United States in 1874. Natural ice chilled the beef.  A trial shipment of frozen meat from Australia was planned in 1876.  Ammonia refrigeration plant was installed in a ship, with brine pipes used to provide chamber cooling.  These pipes leaked, causing the failure of the shipment before the vessel left harbour.  

The first successful shipment took place between San Nicholas in the Argentine and Le Havre in 1877-1878.  It took seven months because a collision and subsequent repairs delayed the the ship, “Paraguay”, but the eighty tons of hard frozen mutton was in perfect condition. The freezing plant used ammonia compression.   

The “Strathleven” inaugurated the Australia trade to London the following year, and by 1881, it had become established.  . . 

The next year New Zealand’s first frozen shipment took place:

In 1881 the Albion Line fitted a Bell-Coleman plant to its sailing ship Dunedin and at Totara Estate, just outside Ōamaru, the Land Company added a slaughterhouse to these late 1860s farm outbuildings. Davidson and local manager Thomas Brydone supervised the slaughtering of 300-400 sheep a day. Ōamaru’s harbour works were incomplete, so they railed the carcasses to Port Chalmers for freezing aboard the Dunedin, which sailed for London on 15 February 1882. The ship landed the cargo in perfect condition. Over the next few decades refrigeration reshaped the New Zealand economy, making meat and dairy products new staple exports. ‘A new economy and society was created’, the New Zealand Historical Atlas noted: ‘one of sheep bred for meat as much as for wool, of owner-occupier farms rather than stations with large numbers of hands, of freezing works and their associated communities, and of ports, some of the activities of which were dominated by this industry.’ By 1902 frozen meat made up 20% of all exports. . . 

New Zealand’s sheep numbers peaked at more than 70 million, we’re now down to fewer than 30 million.

The quantity of sheep is down but the quality and variety of meat cuts has improved.

It doesn’t earn the farmer as much as it did or should, but today’s National Lamb Day – the day to celebrate my favourite meat.


Celebrate National Lamb Day

February 11, 2015

Kiwis are invited to celebrate National Lamb Day:

Sunday February 15 is to be National Lamb Day, with this year marking the 133rd anniversary of one of the most significant milestones in New Zealand’s sheep meat industry.

On this day in 1882, William Davidson and Thomas Brydone achieved the remarkable, by launching the first shipment of frozen sheep meat from Port Chalmers in Otago on the Dunedin, bound for London.

The industry hope Kiwis here and around the world will recognise this incredible feat and celebrate it by enjoying lamb for dinner on February 15.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand CEO, Rod Slater says this day also gives New Zealanders an opportunity to recognise the hard work of our farmers and as a nation, a reason to be proud.

“So let us here in New Zealand celebrate with some delicious New Zealand lamb,” says Mr Slater.

“Not only are we celebrating the pioneers of the past 133 years, but also the direction our current agricultural industry is heading. We’re 100% behind all those in the industry.”

This first voyage was an important step in establishing our sheep and beef industry which now contributes $8.5 billion a year to the New Zealand economy.

The 5,000 sheep carcasses arrived in London 98 days later, in excellent condition (although not without incident, with all the challenges of refrigeration in those days) highlighting the size of the accomplishment. Prior to this, New Zealand mainly sold wool overseas as no one believed it possible to have a thriving meat export business.

 

The sheep on that first shipment were killed at Totara Estate a few kilometres south of Oamaru.

The Historic Places Trust (now called Heritage New Zealand) refurbished the buildings. It’s well worth a visit to learn about this important part of our history and get a sense of what life on the estate was like 133 years ago.

You can read more at NZ History Online.

If you’re wondering how to celebrate the day, here’s some inspiration from Australia’s lambassador, Sam Kekovich, :

 


Celebrate Victorian Christmas at Totara Estate

December 7, 2013

Totara Estate, the birthplace of New Zealand’s meat industry is hosting a celebration of Victorian Christmas tomorrow.

Christmas trees and evergreen decorations adorned Victorian homes with beautiful homemade decorations. Making your own gifts and Christmas cards was also an essential Christmas activity.

Visitors will be shown how to make all sorts of hand crafted decorations including peg doll angels and santas, decorated cookies and popcorn chains. Everyone can have a go and take them home for their own Christmas tree or gifts.

There will be a story corner with traditional tales. Fun and games were also part of the celebrations and will include skittles and horseshoes and there will be revival of some good old fashioned Christmas parlour games for everyone to join in like pass the parcel and pint the tail on the donkey.

All good Victorian Christmas parties involve carol singing and listening to festive music and tea will be served with a traditional festive treat to delight the taste buds.

The Victorian Santa was often dressed in forest green rather than the red we know of today – and he will be calling in to Totara Estate with a sack of goodies. The Christmas tree is ready with a treat for Santa and carrots for the reindeer of course.

The celebrations will progress through the afternoon so plan to arrive promptly to enjoy the full experience. Victorian party dress welcome – but not essential!

The delightful Totara Estate shop, with its heritage and rural theme, will be open if visitors wish to find some Christmas gifts with a 10% discount for visitors who join the Christmas celebrations.

What: Victorian Christmas Celebration at Totara Estate

When: Sunday 8th

Time: 1pm – 4pm

Where: Totara Estate, 8km South Oamaru on State Highway 1

More on Totara estate here.


Open farms show how it is and was

March 27, 2010

The importance agriculture plays in New Zealand’s economy is unusual in the developed world and not always appreciated here.

One of the reasons for that is that the country is just something most people travel through at 100 kph – or more – to get from one town or city to another.

When I was a child those of us who didn’t live on farms were usually related to or friends with someone who did.

That isn’t the case now. Most New Zealanders are urban with little if any link to farmers and farming.

Federated Farmers works hard to bridge the growing urban-rural divide and one of its most successful initiatives is the Farm Day when members of the public are invited to discover the country.

Twenty two working farms and one historic one will open their gates to the public tomorrow.

The historic farm is Totara Estate which has scheduled its annual Harvest Home to coincide with Farm Day.

The Topp Twins are special guests at the festival and have secured the services of Ken and Ken to judged the lamb burger competition.

Prue and Dilly will be judging the vegetable produce and will be searching for the longest bean, biggest potato and most appealing apple.

Camp Mother and Camp Leader have been enlisted to judge the Scone & Jam section.

The day starts with a Thanksgiving Service at 10.30.

After that in addition to the entertainment the focus will be on traditional skills with demonstrations on how to preserve the harvest; relishes and jams, and apple cider making. Guest speakers will share their experience with creating a home vegetable garden, growing vegetables and making great compost.

Harvest Home always celebrates the working horse with Clydesdale harnessing and shoeing displays culminating in a grand parade.

Totara’s infamous swaggers regularly descend on the Estate, set up camp and tell tall tales as they await the start of their annual Race to the Brydone Monument. Lunchtime hawkers will prepare and sell traditional farm fare such as  lamb shanks and blackened corn and skilled trades such as blacksmith, blade shearers, saddlers and woodworkers will demonstrate their craft. Young Victorian peddlers will test their entrepreneurial spirit by selling their wares, be it boiled sweets or peg dolls.

There’s also penny-farthing, horse and wagon rides, traditional children’s games, storytellers, bush bands and roving minstrels.

Totara Estate is the home of our frozen meat industry which was the foundation of New Zealand’s economy for many years.

The Historic Places Trust and local volunteers put a lot of effort in to ensuring it’s not just a dusty monument and Harvest Home is one of the ways they ensure that history is brought to life.


Tourism future in farming past

April 29, 2009

Among the news of disease and disaster today’s ODT carries the story of a man who sees an opportunity for tourism in farming history.

Motueka farmer Lester Rowntree has been planning The New Zealand Heritage Farm Show for about 15 years and hopes to have it open for business in Cromwell next year.

He’s planning a museum of farm machinery but also aims to give visitors a taste of living history with bullock teams, blade shearing, chaff cutting, horse and wagon teams, milking and butter making.

It sounds like a good idea to me and will compliment Totara Estate, the home of New Zealand’s frozen meat industry. There visitors get a taste of farming history, including a recreation of the original killing shed – complete with sound track but, I’m relieved to say, without anything gory which might turn tourists into vegetarians.


Future in the past

September 20, 2008

They’re not old by world standards but Oamaru’s Victorian buildings are pretty ancient history for New Zealand.

Scott Elliffe sees future opportunities in the town’s past and has a proposal for a new heritage tourism venture Inside Victorian Oamaru.

Scott has a track record in heritage tourism. He was manager of Totara Estate  and set up Living History.


%d bloggers like this: