Skip to main content

The Finished Product

When we shipped the last of our lambs for processing last fall, we kept the two lightest lambs to finish on grass and alfalfa for our own freezer - we always seem to run out of meat before the next year's "crop" is ready.  We also wanted to teach Sami's 4-H Sheep Project kids about the end product - they usually don't see their lambs after the fair auction.  A week ago, I took these two lambs to our regular processor (Superior Farms in Dixon).  Last Friday, I picked up the whole lambs and took them to Roseville Meats - where we store the meat we sell at farmers' markets.  Today, Dan (who has worked at Roseville Meats off and on for 20 years), showed us how to "fabricate" a lamb - how to cut it up into individual cuts of meat.
Getting started.

As Dan started showing us how to break down a lamb, it was clear that he'd been doing this for a long time.  Like most of the applied arts, butchery takes lots of repetition, and Dan is a master.  He took time to show the kids how to tell where to cut specific pieces of lamb.  He even weighed the meat, the trim (which we'll have ground) and the waste (bones, fat, etc.).  We found that we had significantly greater yield (the ratio of "sell-able" retail cuts of lamb and trim) that we usually get.



Watching Dan work, I was struck by the fact that that our livelihood relies on the skill of many folks - our own skill as farmers must be matched by the skill of our butchers.  Roseville Meats is a throw-back of sorts - not many people know how to cut meat as skillfully as Dan and the other butchers there.
All done!

As I write this, I'm grilling some sirloin chops from these lambs.  I can't wait to try them!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Trade Offs

As we were building fence for the soon-to-be-lambing ewes this morning, someone drove by and asked my partner Roger how long it took to set up the electro-net fencing we use for the sheep. Roger replied, "It's not too bad," to which the driver said, "Seems like a lot of work." Roger's answer - which both of us use with some frequency, was, "Yeah - but this way we don't have to feed any hay!" The driver, who obviously wasn't a rancher, didn't understand - and I suspect even some of my rancher friends don't understand the trade off we're making. Building electric fence is a lot of work - wouldn't it be easier just to feed hay?

The paddock that Roger and I built this morning encloses about 5.75 acres of high quality forage. Since the ewes are on the verge of lambing, their forage demand is peaking. They're eating nearly twice as much grass now as they need in the late summer - after all, many of them eating for three (and p…

No Easy Answers Part 2

In mid October, some friends who graze their cattle in the mountains of western Lassen County (less than 200 miles from our home), became the first ranchers to have cattle “officially” killed by wolves in California in nearly a century. Wildlife officials confirmed that the Lassen pack killed a 600-pound heifer; four more heifers died (and were partially eaten by wolves), but the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) couldn’t confirm the cause of death. While I learned about the depredations shortly after they happened through the rancher grapevine, news of my friends’ losses weren’t made public until the California Cattlemen’s Association and California Farm Bureau Federation issued a joint press release this week. The October 28 edition of the Sacramento Bee ran the story.
If you’ve read my previous blogs about wolves, you’ll probably know that I’ve frequently been frustrated with the Bee’s coverage. The paper has run guest opinions disguised as news articles, and appar…

Humbled and Excited

More than 20 years ago, I went to work for the California Cattlemen's Association (CCA). After two internships, I'd been hired by my friend and mentor John Braly as the membership director in 1992. By 1996, I'd been promoted to assistant vice president - pretty heady stuff for a young guy who hadn't grown up in the industry. I started looking for new challenges. Dr. Jim Oltjen, who was (and is) the beef extension specialist at UC Davis (my undergraduate alma mater) suggested that I think about going to graduate school to prepare for a career in extension. I considered it, but the timing wasn't right.

Fast forward to 2013 (or so) - I'd been working as a part-time community education specialist in our local University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) office for several years. The farm advisors in the office - Roger Ingram and Cindy Fake - suggested that I consider getting a master's degree and applying for a future farm advisor job. This time the id…