The health of our animals is very important. Our fall lambs are growing and this means it is nearly time for us to sell them. These are lambs that were born in October and are now reaching the size that is desirable to go to market. These lambs weigh around 90-115 pounds. The lambs are on feed and hay in the barn closest to our house, and we keep a diligent watch on them. Much like when you are in tune with your children you notice right away when something is not just right. One of the ram lambs in our group didn’t get up right away when I walked in the pen, he wasn’t chewing his cud. Once he stood up he was showing signs of struggling to urinate. I have been raising sheep my entire life, over the years I have learned how we handle these issues. While I am not a veterinarian I have seen this issue in the past and know how it needs to be remedied. The lamb had a struvite kidney stone or stones. The lamb needed to pass the stone(s) or his bladder will burst and the lamb will become sick and die. Its horrible but it is reality. Life raising livestock is sometimes not pleasant but you must know how to handle these situations.
I called my dad and we discussed the options. We immediately called our local meat processor and scheduled this lamb a harvest date which was a day and a half away. I went to the feed mill to pick up feed and when I returned to the barn the lamb had taken a turn for the worse. As the caretaker of these lambs it is horrible to see this lamb in pain. You can sometimes remove the blockage of the stone in the urethra by snipping the end off. After a failed attempt of this and realizing the lamb was suffering a call was made to end the suffering of this lamb. It also created a conversation of the meat is completely good and would be a waste if we just ended the lambs life and did nothing with his carcass. I know how to raise sheep and when push comes to shove I know how to harvest lambs, this however is not something that I enjoy or want to have to do. I have immense respect for people who work in the meat-packing industry.
In the middle of this barn debacle the kids were supposed to be at basketball practice and the car pool mom had just arrived. By the look on my face she knew it was not going well in the barn and we were scrambling to get to basketball practice. I love that I have friends who understand my crazy life. She jumped right in and said lets not let this meat go to waste lets put it in the freezer.
Lamb was harvested and after a little bit of work it was ready to be deconstructed the next day. It was just enough time for me to brush up on my carcass cutting skills. Thank goodness I took Lamb 509 and paid attention. With nothing going to waste, the question was asked if anyone had eaten rocky mountain oysters or lamb fries. I was the lone ranger in the group as I have had “lamb fries” before. Surprisingly tasty and tender. I had eaten them before but never prepared them myself.
We decided to fry them up and dipped them in an egg milk wash followed by Italian bread crumbs. While it is a delicacy to some, it is not one that I would ever order while out at a restaurant. I would compare it to the texture of a scallop but certainly not the taste. They are something that everyone should try….at least once. Most of my friends are not willing to test my fries and tease me quite a bit for cooking them up, but waste not and it makes for a great story.