The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Buying a whole lamb

Lamb chopsIf you don't want to grow your own but do have a freezer, the best way to get pastured meat is to find a farmer you can trust and buy a whole, half, or quarter animal.  The farmer will take "your" animal to the slaughterhouse, then the meat comes back to you in packages much like you'd find in the store, with the weight and cut marked on the label.

We recently purchased a whole lamb (thanks, Megan and Erek!) and wound up with about 30 pounds of meat.  Since I'm new to cooking with lamb, I opted to have the front legs turned into hamburger meat for easy meals, but asked for the bones back to make into soup and to feed to Lucy.  I thought you'd like to see a breakdown of the cuts of meat in case you're equally new to buying meat on the hoof.


I figure the (unweighed) extra bones, heart, and huge liver amount to perhaps another 10 pounds that wasn't included in Megan's calculations when she told me that the lamb would cost roughly $9 per pound.  The total cost for the whole shebang was $275, which included the processing fee.

It would have terrified me years ago to consider buying meat for $9 per pound, but the more I read about pastured meat, the more I figure it's worth it just for the health benefits.  Add in the ethics of eating pastured animals instead of factory-farmed animals, the taste benefits of delicious meat, and the feel-good effect from supporting a young homesteading couple like us, and Mark and I figure the meat is actually a bargain.  Plus, lambs are ready in the spring when our freezer is emptying out --- perfect!

I've uploaded the world's simplest youtube video so you can hear what our dinner sounds like.  Megan and Erek don't have a website, but if you live anywhere close to northeast Tennessee, you should consider buying a pastured lamb, turkey, or chicken from Cave Ridge Farm ---, 423- 367-9660.  I've known Megan nearly since birth, and I personally vouch for their operation.

Those of you who have bought a chicken waterer from us have benefited from Megan and Erek's wisdom already in the included video about how to butcher a chicken.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Hey Anna,

I brought a Lamb and a Goat for $ 290, the local packing house man chatted with my mother and he went to slaughter and purchased them dressed then and butcher wrap all the meet, it took a bit of time because when I purchased them it was deer season. I had about 60lbs of meat, but did not ask for the internal organs. The meat is wonderful, but remember Lamb cooks really fast, like 5 minutes on each side depending on the thickness of the cut, but marinate with rosemary, oregano, garlic, lemon juice and veg oil. let he meat set for 2 to 3 hours and gill. I Love Lamb and Goat Meat.

Comment by Darryl Wed Mar 16 16:16:14 2011

Sounds like you got a great deal! We should probably give goat a try --- I know you can get the animals much cheaper than lambs. I've been slowly working up to dealing with different kinds of meat and have been a bit scared of goat since so few people eat it around here. But I'm sure I'll eventually cross that bridge!

Good pointers on the lamb! Sounds a bit like cooking venison.

Comment by anna Wed Mar 16 17:58:05 2011


I read your post about buying a whole lamb since there are so many benefits to that one of them being the ethics of not eating factory farmed meat. I don't know if you've ever visited a farm that is producing livestock to feed people other than their family, but I have, and I've never seen any factories at these places. I also know that 97 percent of farms in America are family owned which makes me feel good about buying meat in grocery stores. I like knowing that families raised the meat and produce that I am buying for my family.

I just wanted to share because it seems like you don't like commercial farms. Good luck with homesteading.


Comment by Katy Wed Oct 9 23:54:13 2013
LOL, the previous comment.
Comment by Dave Mon Jun 8 10:32:40 2015

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