Jump to content
BC Boards

Bittersweet - sold my first lamb yesterday


Recommended Posts

Hubby and I knew this was coming! We sold "King Kong" yesterday! A young couple picked him up last night, he will be their "Easter Lamb" As they are leaving, driving out of our gate, I said to Hubby: I did not need to know that he will be the main course :rolleyes:

 

Does it get easier with time?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A lot of people ask how I can butcher my "cute, little" lambs. (We do on-farm butchering of all our sheep). This is usually asked about now, when the lambs are a month old, and still cute. I then point them to the 100 Lb market lambs held over from last year- not so cute anymore, they look like sheep.

 

My answer is always, "The day I no longer have trouble taking a life so I can eat is the day I need to quit." It shouldn't be easy to slaughter an animal. It shouldn't even be easy to send one off knowing that's what will happen. If more people had some general compassion for the animals we eat, the whole system of raising livestock (CAFOs, etc) would be radically altered!

 

I look at it this way: My sheep have great lives. They're born outside, they live on pasture their whole lives. There's always food & space & sun & water around them. I try my best to keep their lives as low-stress as possible. And when I hear from my returning customers how much they love my lamb, I know I'm doing something right.

 

In the end, wouldn't you rather you & your customers know exactly where & how that lamb was raised instead of going to a store to buy an anonymous plastic-wrapped package?

 

In my odd belief system (I hesitate to call it religion), I often wonder whether it's a step up or a step down to come back as a butcher animal as I raise them. In some ways, it's a noble cause- the entire point of this life is to die so something else can live. My livestock, at least, live pretty good lives (or at least what we think they'd think of as pretty nice lives).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dear New Shepherds,

 

"The Good Shepherd asked about sending lambs to slaughter:

 

"Does it get easier with time?"

 

I know one vegetarian wife of a commercial breederwho won't eat anything produced on her own farm. When I loaded lambs for market/slaughter my wife(the shepherd) stayed indoors and couldn't watch.

 

It helps when they have numbers instead of names. Taking them to custom slaughter is better than taking them to market - their distress is less. Handling them gently is better than angry - as Bob Dylan said: we cannot "make those who must be killed to crawl".

 

Thousands of years ago, we and sheep made an agreement: we will take care of you tenderly and considerately. You will live when without us you would die. In exchange we will take your increase.

 

Raising animals for slaughter is morally ambiguous. Some days it isn't much fun either. But I can live with the ambiguity and the occasional pangs and still feel that it is better for sheep that folks like me - and you - are here to care for them.

 

Some years a go our eight year old niece stared at her plate, looked up and said: "Oh ick. You mean you knew this lamb?"

 

"Would you rather eat a stranger?"

 

 

Donald McCaig

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm with you Nick. It's never easy but when you look at the life they led compared to commercial slaughter houses I know they have lived good lives. I wish I knew how to do my own butchering but I don't and don't know if I can get past the gross factor to learn. But I sure would try.

Yes it gets better (never really easy) Claudia, once those cute lambs start growing up and aren't so cute it's a tiny bit easier but really when you think of the alternative...not selling anything. It's just something you have to do. Plus once you really taste your own lamb (let it sit in the freezer if you can't eat it right away so the memory isn't as fresh) you will realize what the real reason we do this is.

I love lamb!....yummmmm

 

ETA...

I remember having our first lambs butchered. I wasn't able to eat the meat at all. BUt soon got over it. I remember pretending to eat it so my kids would. The dogs really learned to beg for that lamb (I'd slip it under the table to the dogs) Plus I don't name anything that I might eat. Way to personal!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you !

I guess this was another lesson to learn! Just like the very first lesson about having a Ram Lamb in with the ewes all year and then lambing in January! But you know, standing at the fence, after coming home from work, and watching the ewes and lambs eat, seeing the geese fly north and tiny greeb shoots on my roses coming up makes me think: Life is good"

 

:rolleyes:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is timely because a good friend and I are going out to my sheep this morning to kill my freezer lamb. He doesn't have a name; he's been a very good wether for the past year as far as working dogs. Admittedly, I've been putting it off. Luckily for me, if not for him, he has too much wool for a hair sheep and while I don't mind shearing my good ewes that need it, I'm not shearing a wether that belongs in my freezer. So today is the day.

 

I was talking to my hair stylist yesterday, and we got to the subject of the sheep I own, which is always a good conversation piece since very few people in this area have livestock at all. Most people are taken aback when I say I raise my own sheep to eat or sell, along with working dogs, but this girl had family who owned ranches in Mexico. She was raised here in Vegas, but traveled to her grandfather for her 15th birthday celebration. Her grandfather told her she could pick her own calf; she didn't realize what the end result was and after a weekend of playing with "her" very tame calf, her uncles killed it for the celebration. That might be a bit hard if you weren't raised to expect that, but she said after she got over the initial shock, she could rationalize it that that was the calf's purpose. It was nice to have a conversation with someone that could look at it realistically as opposed to, "You kill LAMBS???!!".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I remember my Great Uncle killing my "pet pig" It was a runt sow that had it's leg broken when very tiny. Wasn't good for nothin but me loving on it. For quite some time I didn't trust my Uncle and Aunt and didn't eat the meat they served, but my tummy finally got the best of me. If he'd of told me first I wonder if it'd been better, we could of discussed all that is being said here. I was young, I don't think discussing it first would have made it easier but at least I'd have been able to say goodbye.

The not naming the butcher lambs is one of my best strategies. It's hard to become to attached to a wether that doesn't have a name. My fist butcher lambs were named Chip and Dale. Not a good thing...

 

My sister will still not eat my lamb but, she has a hard time eating her own duck eggs :rolleyes: And I have a sister-in-law that I almost snuck in our lamb on the menu but decided it could be really tramatizing to someone who really has issues. So we didn't.

 

Never easy but there's a respect that grows from the whole ordeal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've never had a problem with sending lambs before because it's like Nick said, they're 80-100# and not really lambs any more. They're a pain in the butt. But....Monday I sent some lambs for Easter lambs. They averaged about 50# and I felt a twinge. Then I got the check and got over it quickly.

 

The steers that we raise all end up with names. No problems with putting them in the freezer. Of course, they're 1000# plus but very friendly. I would much rather eat something that I knew. I know how they're raised, I know they had a very good life while on the farm. The meat at the grocery store? Blech.

 

Laura

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can't say it any better than everyone else has said it. Yes, I always waffle at the last minute when it comes to take one to slaughter, but I do know I've given them a good life, and frankly I'd much rather eat what I raised--it's better and healthier (for me and the animals I eat) than any other way.

 

J.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My lamb customers and I have replaced the predators in a system that keeps population in balance with resources. I feel it is my role to ensure that my sheep live a life as free from pain and fear as I can manage for them up to and including their last breaths. After which, the income that they provide helps me to ensure the same sort of life for those that come after them. Each spring, the world returns to life, and a new crop of lambs comes with that renewal. Without the sacrifices of those who came before them, this good life would not be available to the next generation. The same is true of all species, no matter where they are on the food chain.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Funny story. When I was growing up we always had a few calfs that we were raising for the freezer. They all had names and we were expected to feed, water, care etc. for them. Always knew from day one they would be on our dinner plate. We did our own butchering and us kids pitched in and helped.

 

It was the way of life in the country, never thought anything about it.

 

One day I had a city friend spending the night..until..I proudly announced that we were eating "Curley" burgers..She asked what a curley burger was....next thing I know she was on the phone crying for her mom to come get her.

 

Poor me I didn't have a clue what has upset her so much..

Link to comment
Share on other sites

UPDATE:

 

 

Just had the young lady call me, she wants to return "King Kong" and pick one of my yearlings instead! Apperantly after they told a few of their friends they were having "fresh" Lamb for Easter they got way more RSVP's then they thought, so King Kong is not big enough - go figure!

 

Does this happen a lot? :D

 

In any case, King Kong will be back home tonight! (Hubby is thrilled, according to him King Kong now has a "by", because you can not be charged twice :rolleyes: )

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I sell a lot of locker lambs. People buy their lambs here and have the Butcher take care of it or they take it home. Each year, I have about 10 for my loyal customers. I don't want more than that as I hold them until they are 9/10 months old. They want a 55-65 hanging weight.

 

One year, I was short of wethers so I looked over my ewe lambs and had to pick one. I pick the wildest ewe lamb. That was an easy choice as she was a bratty lamb. I put her with the locker group for the night. Apparently her mother must have "Talked" to over the fence that night.

 

The next week, all of a sudden that ewe lamb would follow me everywhere, stick her nose in my pocket, "help by stealing a tool" when I was fixing the fence. And to top it off, when I would come home, she would dash up to the fence and scream for me.

 

When she was in the main flock, she was the fartherest away from me and it took a Act of God (or Tess) to catch her. Now I could rub her head and feed her from my hand. She acted like a real pet. The others stayed away from me. I do not make friends with the locker lambs

 

Sigh, I grabbed her one day and tossed her back into the main flock and grabbed the next unlucky wild lamb. She stayed wild.

 

That first lamb now has grown up and is super friendly, still greets me, eats out of my hand and proudly displays her lambs to me. Needless to say, her lambs (ewes) end up staying with me or sold as foundation flock. I think she makes a point of displaying her lambs so they say. She will follow me around with her lambs and I have to pick them up, "oh and ah" over them and I swear she just beams!!

 

My locker lambs stay with their moms until they are 3 months old. Then they have the best life. They do not get worked by the dogs. They get to free range, eat well and not get stressed. I tell my customers that and some of them come out to see the locker lambs. By seeing how well they are taken care of, I get more customers via word of mouth.

 

Diane

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is why I no longer sell live animals to individuals for slaughter on their own. King Kong has been subjected to needless stress (being removed from the flock and held as a single animal for however long it's been). He's also probably still on his mother, so the mother has also been needlessly stressed. Plus, you have no assurance that the slaughter will be carried out correctly. I learned this lesson the hard way when I got a call from a family that assured me they knew how to butcher. They were hunters and had lots of experience with deer, elk, etc., etc. Well, I came in to find a message on the answering machine that they had shot the lamb five times, but it was still kicking and what should they do?

 

Since that time I have had a lot of people come to the farm in little family cars asking to buy a lamb out of the field or out of the pen. They are planning on stuffing it, alive and kicking, into the trunk of the car until they get it home to slaughter it. I had a guy argue with me that the animal was "just going to die" so what difference did it make if it wasn't comfortable? I pointed out to him that we are all just going to die.

 

Now if people want a whole lamb, they can buy a whole carcass from me. I'll deliver the animal to the slaughterhouse for them, pick it up and everything. Then I have some confidence that it's all being done right.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Now if people want a whole lamb, they can buy a whole carcass from me. I'll deliver the animal to the slaughterhouse for them, pick it up and everything. Then I have some confidence that it's all being done right

 

That's always how I've sold my lambs. I wouldn't mind if someone slaughtered here but no live lambs going in a trunk for us.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's always a sad day when the lambs are loaded on the trailer -- in that sense, it never gets easier, at least in my experience. And I've never found that naming or not naming makes any difference to how I feel about it.

 

But I believe as Northfield Nick and Bill Fosher and others have said. To have a pleasant life, even if short, is better than to have had no life at all. These lambs would not have been born were they not going to be used for food. The life they have lived here is a pleasant one, and they will have less suffering at the end than most of us humans can expect for ourselves. So I have no doubts about the rightness of it all.

 

But it's still a sad day when the lambs are loaded on the trailer.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have never lived on a farm and never owner any animal I would put on my plate, but I "love" lamb. When I move to Ontario, eventually we want to get a small place in the country and I would love to get 4 or 5 sheep to train Clyde and another dog that i would like to get eventually too.

 

Can I ask what kind of price would I expect to pay for a yearling etc for dog work. And also what kind of size of land would you realisticly need to do this.

 

I wouldn't have a problem keeping feelings aside if decide to slaughter for meals. I do a bit of fishing etc and dont mind killing them if only going eat them. Other wise I release for someone else and to also get bigger. Its nature that certain animals end up prey for meals. I would rather know that the animal was cared for in a way that was humane. No animal needs to suffer at all.

 

Is there any breed of sheep that are more common in Ontario for climate etc. I need to do a lot of home work.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have to say, I sell a lot of lambs for slaughter, but I won't often sell any that are supposed to stay alive. Almost every time I've sold sheep for purposes other than slaughter, dogs have gotten into their pens and killed them. This is about four or five different individuals. I have people now that want dog-broke sheep, bu I hate to send a nice, gentle school ewe to be dog food. I would much rather send them already knowing what the end result will be. Which is probably why about 80% of my current flock are too broke for my dog to learn much from LOL.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It does indeed get easier. We have sold 4 this year and this is the first year they are not going to be dinner. We have our own lambs butchered; it is just the way of life. We can't keep them all. My neighbor does and she has so many that they have to take them to auction. When the lambs are in our care they get the best of homes. We then take them to the butcher and we can only hope he does the same til the end.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can relate to the story of having the pet pig killed. When I was young I lived on an egg farm. Each year we got a new batch of chicks. They were supposed to be sexed, but a few cocks always got by. Well, the first year I was there they gave me the baby roosters "for my very own." They had their own house and run, and I gave them names. They didn't fight among themselves and I got very attached. Then one day at the end of the school year, my mom took me aside and gave me my "summer projects." One of them was to kill, scald, pluck and gut my 12 roosters. I was horrified and pleaded for mercy - even offered to buy them with money I had made selling my excess racing pigeons. All to no avail. I will never forget pulling the heads off those birds - two at a time, week by week, until they were all in the freezer.

 

I eat lamb by preference to all other meat animals because I think that they are more humanely raised than most livestock raised for meat. They (as far as I know) eat, mate, give birth and in general live a more natural life than any other meat animals. And as I understand it, they don't stand around in feedlots for weeks eating antibiotics and being stressed in they ways that feedlot animals are stressed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lots of great information in this thread ... it's nice to see people discussing an often-avoided topic.

 

A friend of mine and I just had our resident expert come out and show us how to properly slaughter and butcher. She was very helpful and informative, and allowed me to videotape it and take photos for our personal library of information. Will I ever be able to be the one behind the knife? I sure hope so, but I will make sure she's there with me the first couple of times. Anyway, we now have some sheep in the freezer this season. Was it difficult? Yes. And like NFN says, once it's no longer difficult, it's time to quit. But like everyone says, they have a good life, albeit somewhat short.

 

I am also growing out my first pig this year. He has an appointment with the butcher in May. I've named him "Bacon" and I, personally, can't wait to see what he produces for me, and will more than likely do a couple of pigs next year. Will it be hard to take him in? Absolutely. I really like him. Hopefully I'll like him just as much in my freezer and on my plate.

 

I've been starting to try to grow my own food lately. I'm in the process of setting up my new place, and hoping to be able to rotate pasture and stuff. After watching documentaries like Food, Inc. and seeing how the animals are produced on the mass market, it's made me sick to my stomach. Most people think their food comes from the grocery store ... seriously. If they only knew ...

 

The term "Roundup Ready" now sends me into a tangent.

 

Jodi

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The term "Roundup Ready" now sends me into a tangent.

Hmm- herbicides vs. GM... I can't decide.

 

FWIW our mass market produced sheep have natural, happy lives in general. It isn't true for all, but a lot of lamb from our region goes to the US, and even as an ex-vegetarian I can eat our sheep with a pretty clear conscience. Food miles are another issue.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bill

I would agree with you on this. There is nothing more important than whomever is doing the killing to know what they are doing, and I would have been horrified, as I have been, when one time I read about a sheep person drowning an adult ewe in a water tank....

 

This is why I no longer sell live animals to individuals for slaughter on their own. King Kong has been subjected to needless stress (being removed from the flock and held as a single animal for however long it's been). He's also probably still on his mother, so the mother has also been needlessly stressed. Plus, you have no assurance that the slaughter will be carried out correctly. I learned this lesson the hard way when I got a call from a family that assured me they knew how to butcher. They were hunters and had lots of experience with deer, elk, etc., etc. Well, I came in to find a message on the answering machine that they had shot the lamb five times, but it was still kicking and what should they do?

 

Since that time I have had a lot of people come to the farm in little family cars asking to buy a lamb out of the field or out of the pen. They are planning on stuffing it, alive and kicking, into the trunk of the car until they get it home to slaughter it. I had a guy argue with me that the animal was "just going to die" so what difference did it make if it wasn't comfortable? I pointed out to him that we are all just going to die.

 

Now if people want a whole lamb, they can buy a whole carcass from me. I'll deliver the animal to the slaughterhouse for them, pick it up and everything. Then I have some confidence that it's all being done right.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...