Our friends in Angwin, CA (northeast Napa Valley) are wonderful farmers who grow grapes for wine. That's not all, though. They raise and produce much of their own food and beverage: chickens/eggs, pigs, vegetables, goat cheese, honey, beer, etc. Within the extended family, they have children who raise animals in a 4-H club. A very sweet little girl spent her first year in 4-H raising two amazing lamb.
It was my first time bidding on an animal at a livestock auction. When one receives a cute handwritten letter asking one to bid at the Napa Valley livestock auction in August, it's purposefully difficult to say no. At the auction I felt a little strange, sorry for the lamb who seemed scared, and one could see why. The noise is loud, fast and with many people staring at the animal on display.
After we made the winning bid, uniformed older children came and placed a photo in hand of the pretty animal with the child who raised it. That image erased the uneasy feeling of the auction. We found the lamb and girl, thanked them, and then said kind words to each.
We were lucky to have our friend, the girl, take her lamb home for a few weeks to eat and run to it's heart's content. At the beginning of September, a hired gun went out to the farm and calmly shot the lamb "Taco" dead. One single shot, a very minimum of pain.The lamb was transported by the hired gun to the butcher's in Santa Rosa, CA. We picked up our lamb at the end of September from Willowside Meats (the fantastic butcher shop).
Called our cook friend, and asked if we dropped off some lamb breast, would he cook it and have us over for dinner? Enthusiastically, he agreed and the delicious dinner above was the result. Happily, we decided that supporting our 4-H friend was a good, wholesome and tasty way to go.
Purchasing a whole animal at the Napa Valley fair auction was on the expensive side, ~$6.50 per pound total. However, the fact it was NV made it expensive, and most 4-H clubs in other areas have extremely reasonable prices. Luckily, we had help paying as a relative wanted to go in with us on the purchase.
Counting the number of packages of lamb, we determined that we could eat one package every-other-week and have the lamb last all year. I decided to save the boned leg-of-lamb roast for Christmas.
My nearly 95 year old great aunt, her niece, and friends--7 people total, really enjoyed our leg-of-lamb holiday dinner. We thank the well respected, tasty lamb for giving it's life for us every time we cook a piece of it.