Can I come tonight?
Can I come tomorrow?
This is a frequent phone conversation we have with new customers. 🙂 Though we have a working farm, it’s a small family farm, and we also work off-farm. And the farm is also our home! So the farm isn’t manned like a retail store with set hours. Instead, you must make an appointment to come, so that it fits into our schedule.
Drop-in visitors are extremely disruptive to our work, our family-and-friends time, our dinner hours etc.; and we may not even be home. So please, please don’t plan on “just showing up” to either visit and learn about our operation, or because you’re hoping to butcher a lamb. You may find us a bit impatient with you if you do turn up unannounced!
There is a process for making arrangements to do on-farm slaughter. We don’t have a “lamb Walmart” shopping experience where buyers can view and pick something out from a group of confinement pens in a feedlot setting. (There is another operation in our area that offers this service, and it is a different market niche.) Our niche is pasture-raised lambs, which means the lambs are on pasture. Picture 200 sheep out on a section five acres or larger, that may be a 1/4 mile walk from our house. The sheep are not tame or friendly, so humans can’t get very close to view or touch individuals when they are in the pasture.
Thus, to start the process, you need to specify the live weight range you want. We review computer records and find a lamb that is at that weight range. Then we drive an ATV and trailer out to the pasture and round up the sheep with border collies, and retrieve your specific lamb. We bring it up to the barn so it is ready and waiting for you. This requires some advance notice, ideally a week or more, so that we can fit this sorting chore into our work schedule. And, also so the lamb can relax and eat in the barn and flush any stress hormones before you come, which is ideal for best meat quality.
This also requires a pre-paid, non-refundable deposit. It can take an hour to find and haul your lamb up to the barn, and if the purchase is canceled, another half hour to haul the lamb back out to pasture. Thus, we can’t make this effort without pre-payment, and if a buyer does need to cancel, the deposit is non-refundable, to compensate for our time in handling and hauling the lamb.