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Perfection. Some people would be surprised to find out that within a 100 mile radius (or less) of most major cities one can find the absolute highest quality produce and meats, for the best prices around, directly from the farm. The above picture is a testament to the craftsmanship of what a small, local producer is capable of providing: perfection.
I began a yearly tradition to purchase a whole lamb from a producer local to my parent’s home where I often visit. The name of the farm is “Pasture’s Pride” and it is run by a husband and wife/family team in the hills just outside of Reading, PA. They don’t have a website, but are available by phone and email. Which brings us to a brief list of things to consider when attempting to deal directly with a farmer:
I had the opportunity to ask Joy a few questions about her farm and wanted to share her answers here.
How long has the farm been operational?
–The farm operation as it exists now has been operating for 10 years. However, it was operated as a crop operation by myself and Dad for 10 years and prior to that a dairy operation by my Dad.
How many acres do you work?
–We work aprox. 120 acres including some rented land.
What do you produce (besides delicious lambs)?
–We produce grass finished beef and lamb; pastured chickens and some hogs (free range, but not on pasture).
What is your best selling items/how many head per year do you sell?
–We sell mostly beef - approx. 30 beef per year, 20 hogs per year, 600 chickens per year and 15-20 lambs per year.
What is the most fulfilling aspect of farming to you?
–Probably the most fulfilling is working with satisfied customers, but also enjoy the new life as cows reproduce the new calves each year and ewes the new lambs.
What’s the worst part of farming for you?
–The daily chore aspect is the worst part and when it does not rain to make pastures grow (no problem this year though!)
When I get my lamb it comes in an empty, repurposed, cardboard beer case. It is wrapped in plain white butcher paper with a 120 point blue stamp that says: “Lamb Bones” &c. Generally when you buy in bulk like this you will be able to give butchering specifications. If you have no idea what you want, consult the internet or a great publication like:
The River Cottage Meat Book by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
I got my lamb w/racks intact, shoulder roasts, boned butterflied legs. There is quite a variety of texture and flavor between the different cuts, and it will be good practice to explore the entirety of the animal. For this leg, I went with a simple preparation. I briefly marinated the leg in white wine, orange juice, and rosemary. It was then tied tightly and set over a low fire on the rotisserie.
I’ll forego the BS and tell you I don’t remember the time and temperature that I employed to cook this leg. I used a meat thermometer and pulled it when it was 125 degrees, covered it and allowed the carry-over to make the final temp around 132 F. GREAT TRICK: Instead of searing the leg initially, allow it to cook until it “looks” done, and then turn up the heat all the way to char the outside - BUT ONLY FOR A MINUTE LEST YOU SHALL RUIN IT COMPLETELY.
A leg of lamb is a lot of food. Here you can see my brother in law’s leg in the background. He carved the roast and it amply served myself, Sara, my sister and her husband, both my parents, and my son even had a bite. There were plenty of leftovers, which were dealt with mostly via picking, but also ridiculously delicious sandwiches.
Thank you so much Joy, for taking the time to help me with the pictures and info for this post! Thank you more for providing the most awesome red meat I have ever had the pleasure to consume, and for being part of a system that supports and rewards both the customers and the producers whom spend their lives in search of quality food for themselves, their families, and the future!