About the keb hoose

I am no more capable of providing an etymology for “keb hoose” than any of the sages I have consulted; I think of it as a wee Scots hospital for edible ungulates. I do care a great deal for sheep, and let me mention lambs. This will be evident to my loyal readers since I wrote, “Sheep may safely graze,” in a west-Canadian agricultural magazine, a couple of decades back.

The article under this title was written in praise of mutton, which I adore; but it is apparently no longer available, in sad countries like Canada, unless you raise it yourself. Our sheep, which survive lambdom, may safely graze, if they continue to sprout wool. I have, incidentally, no idea what statist regulations govern mutton production, and am for the moment not interested.

The difficulty with mutton is that it is unmodern. It takes some five years for the meat to mature wisely, on the living animal. Three will do, for a glib feast, but as the Victorians explained, there is no reward for impatience. A third cull comes after seven, or perhaps eight years; and the hanging of the carcass is a long and untidy affair. Getting the time wrong is a mistake one must pay for.

In my lapsed journalistic rĂ´le as a “Gimcrack Gourmand,” I once annoyed the supermarket readership with a selection of delicious, exotic mutton recipes, gleaned from Egypt, India, and the distant Oxonian past. My point was, at least by intention, that the world is choking with things not worth having, and would benefit from something that is.

Whereas, lamb passes through the rotating knives of the streamlined abattoir very quickly. You don’t have to feed the little creature much, before selling it to the butcher, and he (the lamb) makes acceptable eating if one is easily bored. By contrast, a full-grown sheep, bred for mutton, could have a much longer and more thoughtful life, previous to its one bad day. Modernity, I have often noted, is not good for animals.

The sheep in the hills of Scotland were placed there by enterprising liberals, to replace the human population of, e.g., my ancestors. I can’t entirely blame them, for many of these people were hard to get along with, but I am nevertheless opposed to genocide in all of its forms.

Reading among the papers in my High Doganate (where I do not need a proof of vaccination), I learn that death was also an inconvenience in past centuries. What happens when a lamb dies, leaving his bereaved mother with time on her trotters, and a surplus of milk?

Ewes are possessive of their lambs, and not favourable to having them replaced. But the old shepherds would solve both problems by skinning the dead lamb, and covering a live, milk-hungry orphan with the hide. The ewe, with her intense sense of smell (rams are even smellier), would gradually come round to feeding the orphan, instead of head-butting it.

The deodorant industry was also founded on this insight, according to my typescript source. But it was a Lowlander who wrote this, so I do not insist that you believe it.

We face another Christmas without mutton. This is all very well if my reader is a vegan, but as a Christian I can only lament.