Kentucky Lamb for the Holidays -- and After

Windhover Farm Goats Play King of the Hay Feeder

Windhover Farm Goats Play King of the Hay Feeder

I wrote a little bit recently -- but not enough -- about the sustainably grown lambs available from Larry Swartz and Genia McKee's Windhover Farm in Garrard County. Since then I have learned more from a long talk with Larry and an email from Genia, who sent nine magical farm pictures, including the goats in the photo. (No, I did not think they were sheep!) Larry and Genia still have lambs available -- which means you can have sustainably grown local lamb for any holiday meal -- and you can have it delivered direct to your door. The lamb will be butchered (locally), cut into an array of meal options (see below), packaged and frozen. Call (859) 339-4189, and don't use the 859 if you are in Lexington. You can buy lambs until all have been sold, so there may still be some available in early 2009. More on contacting Larry and Genia below.

If you are new to the idea of buying important food from a trusted Kentucky farmer instead of from a supermarket, you may want to know more about how it works.

Genia says, "Our breed of sheep is Cheviot, which originated in the Cheviot Hills on the border of England and Scotland.  They are a medium-size, very hardy sheep which also produce wool.  The price of a lamb processed (and frozen) delivered to the customer's door and/or freezer is $250.  Half a lamb is $135.

Here is a list of what you get (if you buy a whole lamb):

One whole leg of lamb

Three 2-2 ½ # leg roasts

Two packages (2 each) shanks

Two sirloin chops

2-3 packages lamb liver

2-3 packages ground lamb

2 packages lamb stew meat

4 boned and rolled shoulder roasts

2 4-rib rack of lamb.

4 packages (2 each) rib chops

4 packages (2each) loin chops

1 package lamb fries, (ram lambs only)

Tongue, kidneys, heart available if requested at time of order (pre slaughter)"

Genia continues: " The lambs weigh 95-105 pounds live, and the hanging (carcass) weight is 45-55 pounds.  This usually translates into about 38-42 pounds of actual lamb cuts into the freezer, or roughly $6.00/lb inclusive for all cuts average.  A bargain for sure, and we probably will need to raise our price for 2009 lambs. All our costs are up."

More about contacting Larry and Genia: Here's the phone number again: (859) 339-4189. And here are three points I've learned or others have shared about buying directly from fine farms:

  1. Practice patience. Plan a bit ahead, and be patient about getting in touch. The people you are trying to reach are busier than you can imagine, and often their work outdoors keeps them away from their phones.
  2. Pay the asking price. If you choose to buy fabulous, local, carefully grown food that is good for the land, the local economy, and your health, pay the farmer's price gladly. In this way you can be part of a virtuous cycle. The price for this lamb is outstanding, in my view, but even if it were not....Savoring Kentucky tries not to preach, but on this one point -- Warning: Some preaching ahead. Sometimes without thinking through the extra value we are getting, we consumers expect hand-grown and processed organic and sustainable food of top quality to compete with discount grocery prices for factory food. Talk to any committed organic/sustainable farmer for a few minutes and that view changes. Sometimes we cannot afford the great food our farmer neighbors can produce. in that case -- we have to do without or choose an alternative. But it's not good form (and it's hard on farmer well-being) to complain about a price or try to bargain. I wrote about this a couple of years ago in a different context. Sermon over. For now.
  3. Plan far ahead for real customization. If you want something different or like to customize what is standard, call ahead and leave plenty of time to work out a plan that will not require the farmer to do a lot of extra work. If it turns out your requests WILL require extra work, renegotiate the price happily. See point 2 above.

That's it - a beginning list of Local Food Manners for Buyers. I welcome others' comments about what constitutes good manners in the local food world.

Photo credit: Swartz/McKee - Thank you!