My last post was about the reasons for buying an animal share directly from a farmer. Well, that’s great, but what if you’re not experienced with cooking the various cuts that you receive from a whole animal? The last thing you want is for food – and your money – to go to waste because some cuts never make their way out of the freezer.
When I say you, I mean… me. All of us. Before all this buying direct business, I had never cooked a lamb shoulder or ox tail or rendered lard, and maybe you’ve never prepared a rack of lamb or have any idea what to do with ground lamb. (Or maybe you’re amazing at it, in which case, please comment and share!) Anyway, I’ve started collecting recipe ideas, specifically for lamb, on a Pinterest board:
These are just a few examples, and we’ll be continually adding more to the board. You can follow us at Leaping Lamb Farm – Recipes for Lamb.
That brings me to the next topic… the specific cuts of lamb you receive when you purchase a whole animal share. Our processor, Farmer’s Helper in Harrisburg, calls our customers to work out what they will receive. The American Lamb Board has a nice visual that breaks it down:
Some of these are specialty cuts. For example, to receive a crown, that takes the rack from the whole lamb. You wouldn’t, then, receive a rib roast, or chops from the same lamb. The American Lamb Board is a good resource… they have a “Lamb 101” section with cooking times and temps, plus recipes and and a few other bits of info that an informed consumer may find interesting.
Our lamb shares are still available but quantities are limited, and we’re asking everyone to get their reserved order in by October 20th. Don’t wait ’til it’s too late!
Here at Leaping Lamb Farm, we’re getting ready for the fall processing of the lambs born last spring. As Scottie talks to our customers about putting down their deposits to hold their purchases, it’s gotten me to thinking about why my husband and I choose to buy animal shares directly from farmers.
In the past, we’ve purchased a third of a pig (not enough!), a whole pig, and twice have purchased a quarter of a cow. We’ve also purchased a lamb from Leaping Lamb Farm and will definitely do so again this year.
Wondering about freezer space? That was a big question for me when we started buying shares in animals — how much freezer space did I really need? Depending on the animal you’re buying, you may need a chest freezer. A lamb from Leaping Lamb Farm takes up about two paper grocery sacks, while even a quarter cow and half a pig take up much more room.
So, how come at some farms the customer buys a share of a live animal, versus buying cuts of meat in some farm stores or at farmers’ markets? It has to do with whether or not the animals were processed by a USDA-inspected facility. Our lambs are processed at a “custom-exempt” state licensed facility located in Harrisburg. Such facilities are exempt from continuous inspection (they are inspected once or twice a year by the USDA), but may only process livestock for the owner, the owner’s family, and non-paying guests*. This is why farmers will sell you a share of a live animal, making you the owner of that animal. Here at Leaping Lamb Farm, we sell whole lambs, and our customers can make arrangements themselves to split the share, if they wish.
Without getting too much into the politics of it all, there just aren’t enough USDA-inspected facilities in Oregon, and those that exist are extremely busy, and require hauling the animals long distances. Hauling is a stressful occurrence for the animals, which many people believe can affect the flavor of the meat.
*Source: Check out this informative pamphlet from OSU about using custom-exempt facilities in Oregon. It’s written for the farmer, but I’ve found it really useful as a customer to understand the process.
Leaping Lamb Farm is a partner of the Pro Pasture Campaign by Friends of Family Farmers.
The flagship program of this campaign is Pro Pasture Fridays (PPF). PPF is farmers, ranchers, consumers, food purchasers, retail stores, chefs and restaurateurs joining together to promote agricultural practices that put a high value on family farms, animal welfare, public health, the planet and our local rural economies.
We encourage you to take a look around your area and support your local farmers who are raising pasture-fed animals!
Stay tuned for an upcoming post about cuts of lamb, and recipes!