The time has come to slaughter our first lamb. We were going to bring it live to a butcher where it would have stood around for hours in a strange environment, before eventually being killed and processed. A few days later you pay the butcher and bring home your meat. But bringing it to a butcher didn’t seem quite right. As soon as an animal is separated from the herd it becomes stressed, so at a meat processor it would be stressed for many hours at least. Plus, why pay someone else for what I should be doing in the first place? We’ve decided that for us, home butchery is the best option.
So last week was butcher day, and it was mostly straightforward and simple. The first step is to choose the lamb. Our first candidate was a black male lamb, 4 months old and already 90 pounds. He was pulled from the herd and quickly brought behind an out-building where it was killed with a bullet to the head. If you have your equipment ready to go, this process takes only 5 minutes. Had we decided to use a butcher, It would’ve taken 5 minutes just to load the lamb into the truck. Again, you want the beast to be under stress for as little time as possible. Using a razor-sharp knife, the throat was then slit, and the deceased lamb was hung upside-down from the tractor scoop to bleed out.
As soon as the blood was drained we started the skinning process. This is not a difficult job but was slow for us first-timers. We took off too much fat in a few places (rookie mistake) but overall did a decent job. Then the animal was gutted, with the liver, heart and kidneys being saved to feed the dogs. After a quick wash, we cut the carcass in half with a bone saw and hung it up in a converted refrigerator for a few days to rest. This allows the meat to age and develop more flavor before the final cuts are made. Staring at 37 pounds of fresh, high-end meat from our own farm feels fantastic, but we’ll have to wait a few more days to see how it actually tastes.