This piece is sponsored by Shepherd Song Farm.
Lamb and goat meat are two of the most widely consumed meats in the world — and Midwesterners, thanks to the recent growth of new ethnic populations in the region, are discovering the many delights these meats can add to daily cuisine. Judy and Larry Jacoby of Shepherd Song Farm are in a special position to aid in that discovery and delight.
The Jacobys didn’t always know they’d become farmers. Working successful jobs in manufacturing and human services, they had developed strong skill sets in process management and quality control. But when Judy first attended a herding clinic in 1988 with her Belgian puppies, she found herself catching on quickly. “I came back with a few goats, and it all went from there,” she says. She quickly learned that her true love was raising sheep and goats. Since that initial introduction to goat herding, Larry and Judy have increased their flock to about 300 sheep and 50 goats. Meanwhile, the skills they drew from their other professions have turned out to be essential for operating a successful farm and satisfying chefs and household customers alike.
Though the Menomonie-area farm has grown dramatically since its modest and tentative beginnings, it’s still a small, family-run operation. Judy and Larry, along with their daughter Tove, perform virtually all of the work themselves, from raising and herding the animals to personally shipping orders. Our conversation with the Jacobys revealed their tremendous level of respect for the flock, spending time with the animals at all stages of their lives. As Judy put it: “In business, if you keep your employees happy, they’ll perform well for you. It’s the same thing with animals.”
With clients like the Red Stag Supperclub, Bradstreet Crafthouse, Lucia’s, and The Creamery (in Downsville, WI), Shepherd Song Farm is doing work that’s getting noticed. Cooked properly, both the lamb and goat are tender, toothsome, and bursting with a delicate flavor. They work perfectly in curries and stews or can be dressed in nothing but garlic and herbs. Due to a grass-fed diet, the meat is quite lean while providing a good source of omega-3 and conjugated linoleic acid (“good” fats), vitamins A and E, and beta carotene. Shepherd Song’s website provides specific cooking tips for each category of meat that they sell (ribs, chops, and steaks; racks and roasts; braising, stewing, and ground) to simplify the cooking process and ensure that it brings out all the meats have to offer. Customers who have tried the lamb chops and the lamb stew meat report that the meat is juicy and tender, with a pleasing texture and subtle, memorable flavor.
The Jacobys’ commitment to animal and human welfare is evident in both the meat that they provide and the food-inspired work that they do off the farm. No pesticides, hormones, or antibiotics are used at Shepherd Song Farm, in part to prevent antibiotic resistance in meat, and in part because the animals don’t need them. All animals are 100% pasture-raised, which means they live their lives on pasture, but have access to protective structures during extreme weather. They are never fed grains, but during the cold season as the pastures grow dormant, their diet is augmented with hay and other forage that replicate what they eat on pasture during the warm months. The Jacobys have also contributed extensively to their community, hosting events with local schools, presenting at area conferences on sustainable agriculture, and participating in the USAID Farmer-to-Farmer program in Ethiopia and Mali. In keeping with their commitment to humane animal treatment, the Jacobys have worked with renowned livestock experts and animal science professors Dr. Joe Regenstein and Dr. Temple Grandin to develop portable humane slaughter equipment for other small-scale producers. The design is not patented, and plans for their construction are available free of charge via their Spirit of Humane website.
In addition to the local restaurants it supplies, Shepherd Song Farm offers all cuts of lamb and goat meat — from roasts and racks, to shanks to stir fry — for direct order. As the farm serves a customer base that includes a variety of ethnic communities, much of the goat meat offered is halal. Each order arrives at your door, vacuum-sealed and fully frozen in an insulated container, via PeriShip / FedEx.
The next time you contemplate what might bring a touch of flavourful adventure to a meal with your family or a dinner party with friends, keep Shepherd Song Farm in mind. A wide selection of local, antibiotic- and hormone-free, pasture-raised lamb and goat is just a few clicks or a phone call away. Not only is the meat savory, delectable, and nourishing; you can rest assured that each order is supported by an unwavering commitment to sustainable agriculture, humane animal treatment, and the good that comes from producing and enjoying food together.
This piece is sponsored by Shepherd Song Farm.