The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Off to the Butcher

September 4th, 2015 · No Comments · Posted in farming


The ram-ling who couldn’t keep his mug out of the chicken fencing arrived at his final destination this morning–Rut’s Ridge Farm, a small meat processor located just a few miles from us in Greenwich. A bit over four months old, this fella’s been grazing exclusively on Spy Dog Farm grass and is scheduled to appear on the dinner table a week hence. Rut’s Ridge makes this awfully convenient, the only hitch being that you have to transport the animal there yourself.

This morning, my wife and I made an appearance in a pasture adjacent to the driveway bearing bowls of grain. That’s a sure way to get the attention of the livestock: the goats and the young ram all came running. While the designated target had his head in the feed, I slipped this pink halter over his head. Wife parted a break in the electric fencing and I led the ram-ling to the back of the pickup and hoisted him inside.

A little over four months old, he did a great job of staying on his feet during the ride to the butcher. There I backed the truck up to a metal gate and lowered him into a holding room, pending the ministrations of the butcher.

You always have to steel yourself for the event of a slaughter, whether it’s chickens or larger animals. Being a small farm, we come to know all our animals pretty well, and our daughter manages to name all of them, making the job of killing them just a little tougher. But we’re also glad to be on top of the food chain. The whole point of the farm is to provide pastures for the ruminants to graze, and, when the time comes, to eat them, or sell them to someone who will.

At the processor’s, you fill out a “cut sheet” specifying how you want the animal delivered: legs boneless or bone-in; how thick the chops; shoulder as a roast or divided into steaks, etc. Cost for this service–the killing, disposal of all wastes, cutting and packaging of the meat–is just $75 in the case of a lamb or goat. That seems more than fair, and I was told the price is kept low because lambs have so little “cover”–meaning fat–to deal with, compared to pigs and cattle.

In a few days we’ll return to Rut’s Ridge to claim our meat. It will be sealed in plastic and frozen, in accordance with state law. Over the coming months, we’ll have more lambs and young goats to process. In the event a customers buys any of those animals, we’ll repeat the trip to the butcher, and charge for the “hanging weight” of the carcass.

This is how small-scale grass farming operates in our part of the world.


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