I took two 2010 lambs to the butcher this week. These two guys were just so little last year, I was too embarrassed to sell them to anyone, so kept them for our freezer. And waited and waited for them to hit 100 pounds.

The brown one, I think, is a genetic throwback to the Barbados Blackbelly in our local hair sheep lines. His coloring sure hints at that, doesn’t it? He had a twin brother who matured more normally. And I did help this one a lot in his first week of life, his mother kept losing him, and she was slow to produce enough milk to support twins. Just a petite and cobby little guy. His yearling weight: 101.4 lbs, a weight easily hit or exceeded by my best six-month-olds last year.

The white one is last year’s Kitchen Lamb, who was also very slow to grow, despite being an accidental short-scrotum castration who should have plumped up fast. He reminded me of a little man-elf, as he grew a great, masculine mane, but remained short-statured and petite in the legs. His two brothers also out-grew him by miles. He weighed 110.8 lbs this week. So it’s interesting that though he’s quite a bit taller and bigger looking than the brown guy, the brown guy must be pretty dense to only be ten pounds shy. Visual evaluation of market lambs can really fool you sometimes.

Kitchen Lamb was so cute as a bottle baby, I thought I’d have remorse about butchering him. But, I didn’t. Though he was still somewhat tame, he’d lost all of his solicitous and friendly behaviors long ago. They were replaced by boorish and demanding behaviors from not being afraid of people or dogs. He’d spill grain buckets out of  my hand, push and shove, and ignore Maggie when she moved the flock, even if she gripped him hard in the nose. So I won’t miss his unmanageable self. Ironically I find tame animals to be much harder to handle than untame ones that can be moved as a group with a dog, tame sheep are too assertive and individualistic!

We have almost polished off the lamb we butchered last September, so this will be a welcome replenishment of our freezer. I have been reading a lot lately about the correlation between animal stress and meat toughness, so it’s especially on my mind that they have a calm ride to the butcher who is five minutes away. Though it’s a few moments of wrestling to load them in my van, look how nice they are standing, with loose lead ropes and relaxed curiosity. Good handling + good temperaments = tender meat. Smile 

The butcher commented they were fatty, which is what he always says. But I’ll say they should have been fatty: these guys enjoyed a pregnancy and lactation diet all winter! I wonder if over-wintering them netted me any extra meat, or just extra fat? Open-mouthed smile

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