Cookin', Critters and Chillun

Thoughts of lambs and lamb chops

As I write this, I’m about to go home and cook a couple of juicy lamb chops. They will be a special treat, and especially memorable because the lambs they came from were raised by Jake Bostic, a young livestock fellow from Craig County who raised prize-winning sheep this year. He took meat orders before the Virginia State Fair, and sold chops and other cuts to recoup some of his costs.

Warning to vegetarians: you should stop reading now.

I won’t think about wooly armfuls of cute little lambs when I sauté garlic in olive oil, lay the chops in the cast-iron skillet and sear them, maybe with some rosemary.

I’ll think about headstrong young sheep, and how much work Jake and other Craig County 4-H Livestock Club members put into feeding and grooming, cleaning up after them, training the lambs to walk on a leash, to stand for judges to inspect them, and even dress up for costume class.

And I’ll think about the first 4-H young people I interviewed who raised lambs, in Nelson and Amherst counties. I had never seen a 4-H project lamb before then, and I was expecting cute little things who lay docilely in your arms, like the paintings we saw as children, of Jesus as the shepherd.

Boy, was I in for a surprise. Those lambs were a good 75 pounds, it seemed, and didn’t want to walk on a leash. There was a lot of pulling and pleading and pushing. Those children had never raised lambs before, so I’m sure they could have used lessons, too.

Anyway, I asked the young people if they would be sad to see the lambs go to slaughter after the livestock show.

They couldn’t wait! So much for sentimentality over stubborn animals.

I came to that same point when we had a dairy goat named Willow. She ate a hole in my dress while I was standing there, talking and not noticing her. That was the last straw. I wanted her to become hamburger.

Although she had been bred a couple of times, that hadn’t worked and she wasn’t pregnant nor milking. All she did was eat. I loaded her into my 1965 two-door Dodge Dart and took her to a processing facility about 10 miles away in Amherst County.

The owner took one look at Willow and said, “I can’t kill her. The neighborhood children would never forgive me,” he said. I told him I wasn’t changing my mind, and left her there. The next morning in a phone call, he said, “Name your price.” I did, and he took Willow home to live out her days on his farm.

Young goat is good with garlic, too. I can’t say as much for older goats. We never did eat one of our own, and likewise, the rabbits I thought we’d raise for meat all were sold as someone’s pets.

I come from a family of meat eaters, though, and my father worked for Armour and Co.

I’ll let you know how Jake’s lamb was. I’m sure it will be mmmmmmmm, delicious.

Editor’s note: It was!


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