Tuesday, November 5, 2013

On the Road Again

On the road again
Goin' places that I've never been
Seein' things that I may never see again
And I can't wait to get on the road again
Willie Nelson

We are hauling lambs…again.

I really don’t know why hauling lambs always reminds me of Willie Nelson, but it does…and the Boss is always more than a little glad when I stop with the lyrics.  I know I don’t sound like Willie at all…but, on the positive side---I don’t LOOK like Willie either.  But, I digress.

When a lot of operations speak of hauling they are referring to tractor trailer loads.  Huge quantities of animals.  Not so much here on the hill.  The lambs are loaded in the back of the pick-up and we head off down the interstate.  I told you we were small!

In order to sell retail cuts of lamb, it must be processed in a USDA-inspected facility.  These facilities are few and far between in our area. (anyone interested in becoming a butcher?) We particularly like the folks at the facility in Edinburg and they do an amazing job cutting and packing.Their commitment to quality and the great end product make up for the fact that they're about 75 miles north of M'brook. They prefer to have us bring only 6 at a time, as they also have other processing jobs to do for other folks.  That works well for us (as storage is an issue on this end); we just make several trips during the season.

The hour-long trip on the interstate can be by turn, interesting, amusing, maddening, frightening, and monotonous. Usually, it passes without incident, but it’s always nice to turn off onto the small country road heading back to the processor. The drive takes us through the heart of the Valley and there are always interesting things to see along the side of the interstate.

I’m always amazed at the funny looks we get while driving.  Haven’t these people seen sheep before? Considering all the other things on the road, you wouldn’t think we would get a second glance. 

a load of chips for animal bedding

a huge crane

a Peterbilt being towed

an Army tank
 We’ve seen boats and carnival rides, truckloads of turkeys and chickens, once we even saw an Army battalion complete with soldiers, tanks and weapons! Last trip, we saw loads and loads of ONIONS! (that must be a blog post at some point)

After the lambs are penned, we consult with the butcher, giving our specialized requests and answering any questions.  Then, we head for home. We generally pick up lunch somewhere along the way since this little trip is as close to “date-night” as we ever get. (nope, not complaining...that's just how we roll)

In about two weeks, we will head back to pick up all the tasty chops, roasts, stew meat, and ground lamb.  We even get some of it made into sausage! (YUM) We take the frozen lamb to the Market (in the freezer inside our market trailer) every week during the season.  We even have lamb available in the “off season” for our Winter Sales customers. The Boss and I love lamb and it makes our own menu about twice a week.

It’s really too bad that most folks have never even tried lamb.  It’s delicious, nutritious and there is really no mystery to its preparation.  You can use it just like you would beef, just don’t cook it quite so long…and serve it HOT.  We have plenty of recipe booklets that are made available by the American Lamb Board. (We pay a small fee per head as a check-off and in return we get access to some great literature promoting LAMB.)

…and before you say it…yes, it is price-y.  The cost of processing a single lamb is fairly high (considering the amount of meat) and then there are all the costs involved with raising the lamb.  A small operation (like ours) cannot compete on price point…and we don’t try.

We can assure our customers  that unlike Australian/New Zealand lamb, our lamb hasn’t travelled approximately 10,000 miles to the plate. We have been there through the entire process (except for the actual butchering) and can answer any questions you may have regarding care, feeding and health.

If you want to know your farmer, know your food…then our lamb is for you! 
               (and I promise…I won’t sing)

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  1. I'm one of those who has never had lamb. Our Amish neighbor Fred, is renting our pasture for his sheep and said he wants to pay us in lamb so I will be trying it soon. When you have time post a recipe or two because I have not a clue but want to learn. I loved the pictures and the way you tell a story. Thanks!!

    1. I'll be glad to share some recipes, Kelly!
      As a matter of fact, I've been meaning to put a page or recipes up on our website, but just hadn't gotten to it. Thanks for giving me a nudge. :)