By: Bears Butt
Sheep. Why on earth would Bears Butt write anything about sheep? I can count on one hand the number of times I have eaten sheep meat. Dad always talked about eating lamb and the toughness and fatty taste of mutton so there may have been times while I was growing up and too young to remember eating it, but the few times I do recall eating it are few. Not that it tasted bad or anything, I recall it tasting rather good in fact, but there just wasn’t much to it and it would take a whole bunch of lamb chops to satisfy my hunger. I suppose that is the main reason for me not eating much of it….oh and the fact that Winemaker grew up eating a bunch of it and she didn’t care that much for it. Is this because they were pets and the thought of munching down on a pet for Sunday dinner wasn’t that appealing? Or was it because that is what they had to eat and in order to survive you had to eat it or else?
Questions that can’t be answered at this time.
So, why is Bears Butt writing about sheep? I started my research looking up bacon. Bacon is always at the top of my food list, I like bacon! So I went in search of “bacon alternatives” and found that in the countries making up the United Kingdom (England, Scotland etc.) in World War II, they decided that since they had so many sheep and very few hogs, they would make bacon out of sheep meat. Which they did by brining the sheep meat the same way they would hog meat to make the bacon. They called it “macon” (mutton bacon). To a starving troop on the line, it would be quite good, or at least would sustain them until such time that they could open a can of spam (another story in and of itself). OK, so one look up on the web lead to another and to another and so forth. Pretty soon, I made my mind up that You needed to know what I have found out about sheep.
First off you need to know that the sheep industry in the US is going down. It never was a big deal in the US anyway and it’s becoming less and less of a big deal as of late (2012)….HOWEVER….You never know if the demand will go up and if it does the herds will grow. Texas and California grow the most sheep in the US….I wonder why? You should be able to guess. Utah is 5th in the nation on the number of sheep raised. We see quite a few of them critters on the mountain while muzz deer hunting. Utah raises on average 305,000 sheep. Sounds like quite a few to me and if you are ever traveling toward camp the day before the opener and get stuck behind a sheep drive going down the road, it seems like all 305,000 are in front of you impeding your progress toward camp and a cold brew.
Well, most of these animals are raised for the production of wool, but for the unfortunate young of the flock, they are hustled off to a feed lot for slaughter. They are not held long at the feed lot and will soon be coming to a grocer near you! To the tune of 168 million pounds of yummy young lamb! 168 MILLION pounds! That is a lot of pounds of lamb! Who eats this stuff? Like I said earlier, I can count on one hand the number of times I have eaten sheep meat of any sort and in my mind I can’t think of too many people who eat it on a regular basis either. Now according to the latest census in the US, there are almost 314 million people living here. So, if we were to divide the slaughter figure of lambs by the number of people living here, each of us would be allowed about 1/2 a pound of lamb each year….that would be about 4 lamb chops if I figure correctly. Someone is eating my lamb chops.
Well, are you satisfied with all of this about sheep yet? I’m not done. The story gets bigger and maybe even better, depending on how you look at it. 314 million people and 168 million pounds of sheep meat doesn’t seem to be enough here in the good old U.S. of A. And for the countries of Australia and New Zealand, they are happy campers, because the U.S. demand has them exporting some 130 Million pounds of sheep meat, right to us! Oh Happy are we! So, the U.S. consumes 298 Million pounds of sheep meat each year! Who is eating this meat????? Do the math, that is just short of 1 pound of meat for each resident of the U.S…..or in my words, 8 lamb chops each….still someone is eating my lamb chops.
More research found that when you go to the grocery store and are standing there looking at the meats: beef, pork, chicken, fish and lamb and if you are at any odds as to which one of them is the most healthy for you….besides fish or course….you would be better off choosing the lamb. It is said that it has the capabilities of lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease. Is this why the Mediterranean people look so good out there on the beach? They eat a LOT of lamb meat.
Well, I don’t plan on going out and picking up any lamb chops any time soon, and if I was to raise a sheep for slaughter I would most likely want to do the cutting up myself. Of course I found this masterpiece of some help:
It comes from the British government and the butchers have to report where the cuts they package came from, I think I would pass on the “scrag end” cuts myself, as the name just doesn’t sound very appetizing….”Sir, would you care for another cut of ‘scrag’”?…….But then, the “chump” doesn’t sound too good either. And what cut will you obtain from the “Best End”???? Oh I get it! It’s the “best end of the backstrap”!!! Oh ya! I like that end the best and only a “chump” would like the other end of the backstrap. It’s sure a good thing I have cut up a lot of deer and elk myself over my lifetime. I got this one figured out. But still, someone is eating my lamb chops.
April 9, 2014