Lamb Chops: from barn to freezer

Lamb Chop

On Jan 3rd we bought a 125 lb. ram lamb to fatten for the freezer. He had horns and had not been castrated.

Of course I named him Lamb Chop lest anyone forget he was intended for food. [Do you find it as odd as I do that all those years ago TV show host/comedienne/ventriloquist Shari Lewis named her sock puppet character Lamb Chop? In a 3-degrees of separation way my life intersected with Lewis and Lamb Chop; I was living in the basement apartment of her house in Laurel Canyon the fall President Kennedy was assassinated. Small world, yes?]

We fed our lamb chops-on-the-hoof with sweet hay and a daily treat of about a cup of 2-grain scratch (what we give the hens) and while he basically maintained an aloof attitude he would come quickly when the grain was shaken into the feeder!

The actual killing took place very quickly and quietly. The animal was not excited and neither were we. A single shot and it was dead. The scaffolding had been set up beforehand to hoist the carcass and to insure a proper bleed-out. All the knives had been sharpened. Garbage bags for the head and the offal were ready.

the kill

Our son, his two daughters and a friend came to help. Because this was a first time learning process for the girls and our friend Jenny each step of the process offered a new way of looking at where our meat comes from.

The photos show us from the beginning to the end. I’ve included captions so you can tell what is happening.

hanging the carcass

beginning to skin

skinning continues

skinning the belly

skinning the back

Jenny works to skin the back

using a hand to guide the knife to open the belly

pulling away the intestines

the carcass is empty except for the lungs and heart

beginning to saw down the spine

Gaia works on splitting the carcass with the saw

the carcass is almost split and ready to hang to cool

a cooled half ready to cut

cutting a shank

Kierk cuts the ribs

Kierk cuts chops