A few weeks ago, I told you about my family's new venture selling our lamb as frozen meat to the general public. I've been so busy with book stuff that I haven't had time to update my blog readers with what happened after I announced our new business - Leyden Glen Lamb.
First off, we had to take the lambs to be processed. After loading the animals, they have to be driven to the slaughterhouse. In a week, we pick up the animals in packages and bring them back to our freezer. Below is a photo of a two legs of lamb - one with bone-in, one boned. The lamb is packaged in cryovac by the local USDA certified for resale slaughterhouse we take our animals to. (That spotty white stuff is snow that was falling as I took the photo of the meat.)
For those who haven't been long-time readers, in the past we have always sold our lamb crop at the local livestock auction just before Easter. It's an easy way to disperse of our lambs in one fell swoop. We have always collected the check, paid the bills we owe, and then moved on in the cycle of farming, barely realizing any cash flow until the next Easter. With the surge in interest in humanely raised animals, grass-fed and farm raised animals, we thought it was time we became more involved with the actual marketing of the lambs. Thank you Michael Pollan and Barbara Kingsolver and their respective books - Omnivore's Dilemma and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle for generating interest in many people who never really thought about where their food comes from.
First off, let's say, there's going to be a huge learning curve to this project/business. Secondly, we won't be getting rich but then I don't know any farmer who is. Mostly though, The Farmer, Julia and I we will be meeting interesting people who are passionate about their food, about the animals which become the food, and the land it is raised upon.
So far, we have joined CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture), attempted to sign up for LocalHarvest.org (dial-up isn't helping here!), checked out the local Farmer's Market requirements (probably won't work for us this year), and worked on a flyer for direct sales. There's a lot to starting a business like this and I've had to put some of the things like business cards, promotional signs, and marketing materials on the back burner while I finish up stuff for my upcoming book. I wish I didn't need to sleep, cook, care for my house and family, clean up the winter stuff in the yard nor run errands - then maybe something for this lamb business would get done. But that's just the way it goes - talk about multi-tasking.
First off we delivered some meat samples to some local restaurants and markets. Now that's an experience, walking into a restaurant establishment with a pound of frozen, cryovac wrapped meat to try to drum up business. I guess it's no different than yarn. So far, we've been selling our ground lamb to a fun old-fashioned "drive-in" called The Wagon Wheel on Route 2 on the Gill/Turner's Falls line. They've put our lamb-burgers on their "specials" roster as seen in the photo below. How cool is that? It is selling well - we've had several re-orders. Neat, huh? I just delivered a large order of lamb stew meat to The People's Pint - the local brewery and good food hang-out in Greenfield. No idea what they are going to do with it - have to check in on that one. You can also find our lamb in the meat case at Greenfield's Market, our local food coop. It's a start and we'll see where it goes.
Best of all I delivered a whole lamb to the lovely Marie Duprey while I was in Dedham, staying at my sister's St. Patrick's Day weekend. In the driveway of Laurie's house, Marie and I talked about her folk-singing career, her passion for yarn and knitting, and life in general while we moved the meat from my cooler to hers. She and her husband have been trying to eat local for the past year and our lamb is now part of their diet. They've been buying chicken and pork from a farm in Concord, Mass. The best part of the transaction was that Marie gave me a loaf of her homemade, still warm, whole wheat Irish Soda bread (it was St. Patrick's Day weekend) and a wonderful CD of her music which I have been listening to in my truck.
That same weekend while I was visiting Dedham, The Farmer was meeting up with Carol from Boston-ish who was skiing in Vermont with her family. He waited beside the road at the former Streeter's Store until they exited Route 91. They swapped the meat from his truck to her car and off they went. Later that week, Carol left a lovely message on our phone calling our lamb "stunning." You should have seen the smile on The Farmer's face as he listened to her message.
While we have been discussing this meat business, The Farmer and I never thought about what we would get out of selling lambs directly to the public. Basically, it is an attempt to make more money than we have been earning from our auction sales. But the satisfaction from hearing from both Marie and Carol about how they are cooking and enjoying our lamb has been very gratifying and icing on the cake. Seeing the name of our farm on a "specials board" at a local restaurant is pretty cool too.
We'll see where this goes! We've got two more lambs ready for the next two families. If you want information - send me an e-mail and I'll send you an info sheet. My e-mail address is on a link at the sidebar at left. One day I'll have an official website that will be easy to access -- once I get some other stuff done around here!
Thank you internet and thank you to Adam's Farm for running a top-notch facility for processing our animals.