Sunday, February 22, 2009

Thank you, Boys...

It was a very hard decision to make. I took the three remaining ram lambs from last year's lambing to the butcher earlier this month. Times being what they are and having an overabundance of rams, I just couldn't see any valid reason to prolong keeping these boys. The cost of feed in Arizona is outrageous, plus I have enough wethers of the same colors already. They are now living in the freezer.
We all think of the housing markets with this downward economy, but these conditions effect everyone - farmers included. This is the first year many sheep people I know have had to sell even breeding stock for the meat market. But on the upside, this is the time we also keep the very best for breeding. We Shetland breeders tend to have rather large hearts for our small sheep. If individuals don't make the cut as breeding animals we tend to find them "Fiber Homes" or "Pet Homes". Shetland's intelligence and friendly dispositions make them easy to place...usually. But not these past two years.
So, steeling our hearts against the hurt we make tough decisions. This is the part of farming we have to face whether we want to or not. Decision time. Who goes, who stays. It's been this way since man first started keeping animals. A Farmers' Natural Selection, if you will.
My three boys went to market where they were slaughtered as humanely as possible considering just what slaughter really is. They came back to me in beautifully wrapped packages labeled for resale should I wish to sell the meat. And I love lamb, so last night I broiled a small package of loin chops for myself to try. I had never tasted one of the Shetland sheep I raised even though others have. I wanted to know if my care and feeding came through in the meat.
So, I found out...
It was the best lamb I had ever tasted. (Even with my cooking the chops a bit too long.)

Thank you, Boys. I respectfully appreciate what you have given me. And may I always appreciate exactly where the food sustaining me comes from. You did good, Boys.


Nancy K. said...

Been there, done that.
Hope I never have to go back there again!

I hope you don't either.
I know how much you love your sheep. I still feel SO sad whenever I see pictures of the beautiful rams that I took to the sale barn this year. I'll stop breeding before I'll do that again.

Leigh said...

Well, I know it was a tough decision but it was the right one to make. And think of how much healthier it is to be eating your own farm raised meat. On the other hand, I've never had to do this before. Just chickens.

Dave said...

A fitting tribute Kathy. I know that some don't agree with me (and that is fine) but I would MUCH rather know where my food comes from and how it is raised than the anominity of buying LWP (little white packages) at Safeway... The care that we put into our animals comes across in everything that we use them for. -Dave

Franna said...

Kathy, It is amazing how good home raised food tastes. It makes me wonder what really happens to the facory raised stuff, not to mention the thousands of miles our produce often travels. We care for them in life and they help care for us after their death.
- Franna

Juliann said...

Hi Kathy,
You've given your boys a better life than most animals raised for our sustanance. This is one of the harder parts of shepherding for most of us.