Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Planning for Purchasing Lamb

There are two ways to purchase lamb on our farm. The first, and quickest is to purchase from our freezer stock. This is already butchered, packaged into cuts (see below for our standard cuts) and available anytime we are home on the farm for you to come and purchase. This still requires a little bit of planning - if you wait until the very last minute, we might not be home to sell you some lamb. But for the most part, we are around on weekends, and in the evenings, if you call, and we are home, you can come by for some lamb - individual cuts or packages of a whole or half a lamb.

The second way is if you want something special. We don't stock whole lamb carcasses in our freezer - we just don't have space for that. So if you are looking to roast a lamb on a spit, you have to plan ahead. And by planning ahead, we mean 2-3 weeks in advance.  The same goes if you are looking for a special cut that isn't part of our standard butcher practice. These also require advance deposits, as we have had folks call for these special items, we get it all arranged, and then they NEVER show up to buy.  That leaves us in a pickle.

So why does it take 2-3 weeks to manage a special cut for a customer? First, we have to arrange to take the lambs to process. Our processor only butchers on Monday through Thursday, so we have to schedule a time with them. If they are booked, you are out of luck. So don't assume we can just pick a lamb and take them to butcher the next morning. Some seasons, the processor gets booked quickly, and I've had to wait over 2 months to get one or two lambs in.

The lamb is not available the day it is slaughtered, either. For a whole carcass, they still require 2 days to hang the meat to age it and dry it properly. That's the same with a butchered carcass. They still hang the carcass for 2 days at least before they start the cutting process. It can be up to a week after we deliver a lamb before we are able to bring it back home. So if you want a special frenched rack tomorrow, it won't happen.

We've had 3 customers back out on us at the last minute the last few weeks. I know that folks were trying to make last minute arrangements for special Easter celebrations. And that's great. We had one customer who contacted us early, came out to the farm to meet his lamb with this family, felt good about everything, we arranged the slaughter date to align with the date he needed to pick up, he paid a deposit up front, and all went well after that. It was a great experience all around.

The others, called in a hurry, begged for a lamb in the next 2 days, and then never paid their deposit and we were a no-show at the processor. That embarrasses me, messes with THEIR schedule (they could have filled those spots with someone else!) and I promised them it would never happen again. So we are asking 3 weeks notice on special cuts, and a 50% deposit before the lamb even gets loaded in our truck. It wastes our time, the processors time, and cuts into the bottom line for us both. And that's not OK.

We are happy to arrange special cuts for folks. We've done Hallal butchering on the farm, we've had lambs processed with a full French rack, we've kept special organs, even entire heads for a customer. But we have to plan ahead for these things, so ask that you try to plan ahead, too.

Long Shadow Farm standard cuts
These are the cuts we stock on the farm, pretty much year round.

Leg
Whole Leg or Short Leg

Loin
Chops

Foreshank and Breast
Shank
Riblets

Shoulder
Square Cut Shoulder (labeled "Shoulder Roast")
Shoulder Steaks

Other
Stew
Ground
Neck