The following is my English translation of an excerpt from “A Soldier from Oman: Memory’s Nectar” by (ret.) Inspector-General Said bin Rashid al Kalbani
Dog’s Ears Barbecued, Seasoned with Chilli!
In the evening, we would go out to the plains to graze our cattle, while in the morning the person hired to take care of the cattle would do that. Everybody would pay as per the number of the cattle he had.
We used to take dogs with us to help us in guarding and tracing our cattle on return. Since most of the cattle were black, people preferred to raise black dogs, so that they could easily be distinguished from any usually red-coloured wolves and foxes coming close to the cattle. In addition to that, they were used for the then-allowed hunting. When we hit our prey with a bullet, the dog would run and seize it. The best type for hunting purposes was Soliqi, which would run faster than a deer.
We used to have a hunting dog known as marqab, mainly black but with white streaks here and there. Our father took good care of this faithful animal. It was once injured by a bullet and we treated it with ashes for no less than a year. Our treatment was, nonetheless, of no avail, as it died of the injury.
On a side note, it was believed then that if a dog ran long distances it would urinate under trees or over stones far from each other, and on return, it would chase its route by smelling its own urine. I perhaps should also mention, that strange as it may appear, we used to cut dogs’ ears when they were small, burn them, and season them with chilli and salt. We then made them eat their own barbecued ears, so they would cry and bark more fiercely than usual.
Shooting is an age-old original Omani sport that we all take pride in. We used to buy bullets from Ibri or Al Khabourah. Bullets plates were melted and poured into moulds of stone. As regards gunpowder, it used to be a urea-like white material. It would be cooked and then left open, so the water would dry up. The remains were subsequently mixed with sulphur and the coal of the shakhr tree. The mixture would then be ground and sprinkled with a little water. We would try it with fire to see its power. If it was weak, we would add more till we got it to the level of the power we wanted.
We would measure its power when we saw how thoroughly it had been baked without leaving any trace on the palm of the hand. The cartridge would be retrieved and recharged with the appropriate numbers of matchsticks. For bird hunting, for example, a small amount would be used, and for deer hunting the quantity would be increased. The same was the case with distant targets. We would prepare for two shots per day, and sometime, perhaps for three. We hunted doves, birds and foxes. The latter we had no problem eating. We would cook them with garlic and dry lemon. However, the elders didn’t eat them, and even went so far as not to allow us cook them at home.
We used to gather in the evening in a place known as shareeáa, the place the falaj went through and was normally in front of a mountain. Every one of us would be carrying a rifle and would compete in the shooting. The target, shabah, would be set on a mountain. After the inception of the Kanad 303 rifle, we extended the shooting range. There were no awards for such activities. Competent in shooting, we did all that with pleasure to maintain a tradition.