Last summer, we bit the bullet and brought 3 Katahdin sheep home. We loved the idea of hair sheep, needing no shearing, and Katahdins are know for their disease resistance and ease of care. We instantly fell in love. Not only do they help immensely with the lawn and pasture care, but they are as lovable and cute as any family pet.
Which is a challenge when one of them is a wether you intend to send to freezer camp.
To make things harder (for us) he came to us christened with the name Amos. I quickly made a mental note to change it to Tasty Nugget.
When you raise your own, it is always feels like walking a tightrope between loving and caring for your animals humanely, and falling absolutely head over heels in love with them. The latter i save for the ladies, they will never be meat on our farm.
We decided to raise sheep to curb our addiction to beef. Although we eat grass fed beef from a local farm we know and trust, we still feel like we could do a little more to reduce our footprint. Having our own meat seemed to fit the bill, as they help maintain the grass that can trap more carbon dioxide and they are fierce grass to meat converters without making too much manure. Their bedding makes a great mulch for the berry bushes and trees.
We weren't certain when we were going to butcher. Typically lambs are butchered at 6 month, but then i read where yearlings can produce beautifully marbled meat and have a greater depth of flavour. We decided to wait a year and try it out.
The last year, Tasty Nugget spent strolling our pastures, munching grasses, dandelions, and clover in the spring, blackberry and raspberry leaves and trimming from the garden in the summertime, grape leaves, windfall apples, and more garden trimmings in the fall, and alfalfa/hay mix during the cold winter months. On the coldest of days, we treat him to a little organic wheat or oatmeal and some sunflowers. In the spring and summer, while this coat was sleek and meager, we were brush him and pet him. As he started to grow older in the winter months and his coat bulked up, he grew more independent and didn't seek as much affection from us. We still treated him to the occasional apples and pear in the lean mean winter months before spring. Lately he started enjoying pets again (isn't it always the way?) and we spent hours out there with him in the last few weeks, enjoying him, praying over him, thanking him for his help around the farm and his life for our nourishment.
Today Tasty Nugget walked the Green Mile.
Days like today my choice to eat meat dangles by a sheer thread.
Our kidlet decided to not be here at home when the butcher arrived. We found a small bakery favoured by us in our city livin' years to visit. The whole time we were thinking of Tasty.
The butcher in our little town is just a few mile from our place. He came out this morning, and instantly my husband liked him. He was gentle and kept calling Tasty "partner". He was very calm and humane. Just what we hoped for on such a solemn occasion.
We won't be eating the meat for a few months. We've noticed when we butcher our chickens, it takes us a few weeks to actually begin to use them. We spend many days prayerfully contemplating the circle of life and the food chain. The fact that we know our animals are loved, cared for in a timely and respectable fashion, and are honored is life as well as death helps us reason through our carnivorous ways.
Tasty will not only nourish our family in many ways, he was born and butchered locally. His whole life and death he hasn't travelled more than five miles between farms and the butcher, helping the environment and the local economy is his legacy. He provided us and some of our family friends with a new opportunity to learn about nature and nuturing. His hide will be used by a friend of ours, a homeschooler who recently learned how to tan hides in h** studies and is interested in practicing what was learned and honing h** skills. We'll also be providing eggs from our hens for the tanning process.
We love you and hope we made you feel at home and that you knew how much we respected you for all the maintenance you provided around here and the companionship you gave to the girls. Watching you at your full grown size, come barreling toward us with a bucket of hay in our hands gave us mild heart palpitations, but you were always a kind and gentle old soul that would never hurt anyone intentionally.