Jason and his parents have about 15 acres of pasture between our two houses. For many years, they kept cows, but it has been 3 or 4 years since they have had cattle in the pasture. Now, instead of cows, we have 15 Katahdin ewes, one ram and five lambs. Jason plans to get up to 30 ewes and then sell or trade the rest. Most of the rams will be sold or bartered for ewes, but some of the rams will be eaten in the Kirk household.
Sheep can be much better to have around small children than cows. Because of the sheep’s smaller stature, we worry less about Rolley Len and Cason getting trampled underfoot. Most of the sheep, including all of the newest mothers except for Fuzzy who is quite skittish, are laid back. Fortunately, they don’t seem to mind our kids playing, running and squealing about them in the pasture. Rolley Len and Cason like to play sheepdog and herd them. So far there haven’t been any accidents or injuries, but the ram William Tom Hill does seem to have a yearning to challenge Cason. We try to keep a close eye on the two of them to make sure William doesn’t head-butt Cason into next week.
The Katahdin sheep were a good choice for us because they are low maintenance, do not require shearing and are usually domesticated. They eat grass, oats and hay, and they keep the grass low throughout the year so Jason won’t have to bush hog as often. Because the sheep are mostly grass-fed, their meat will be lean and healthier than some other meat choices. A sheep can provide a lot of meat and is as versatile as a beef roast.
Last month, a friend of Jason’s grandfather Scott Bennett arrived with his son at the hunting camp in Tuskegee. Scott is the culinary program director at the First Coast Technical College in St. Augustine, Fla. Willie had mentioned to Scott that Rolley Len and Cason had gotten some sheep. One of Scott’s favorite dishes is leg of lamb; so, while he was in town, he made lamb, seasoning it simply with fresh rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper. He added fresh local vegetables for a delicious meal.
When Jason was growing up, his family would spend two weeks at a time at the Tuskegee farm and camp over Christmas break. The Kirks hunted and shared their time together. The house and the camp have weathered through many years surviving lightning strikes and other forces of nature. They still stand strong as emblems of the family’s outdoor heritage. The hunting camp in Tuskegee is now more for social gatherings than actual hunting trips.
During the winter months, you never know who you will run into at the camp in Tuskegee. We try to take advantage of unexpected visitors, especially those who like to cook. Sharing food and recipes brings friends and family closer together. You may get a chance to experience something out of the ordinary when your next meal is planned by your spontaneous special guest.
Roasted Leg of Lamb
1 leg of lamb
Rosemary, to taste
Fresh crushed garlic, to taste
Fresh tomatoes, diced
Rub rosemary and garlic on the lamb. Cook at 350 degrees for 30 minutes per pound of meat. For the last hour of cooking, add okra, tomatoes and green beans to the pan around the lamb.
2 pounds lean lamb
½ cup flour
2 Tablespoons butter or margarine
1 small onion, diced
4 cups water
3 cups turnips, diced
1 green pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
Cut meat into small pieces, about 1-2 inch cubes. Roll pieces in flour. Melt butter or margarine in a large skillet. Add onion and meat to pan and cook until brown. Put browned meat and onions into a sauce pot. Add water to skillet to lift giblets from browned meat, then pour into sauce pan. Cover and let simmer for 1 hour. Add turnips, green pepper, salt and pepper. Cover and cook for 30 minutes longer. Serve hot with roasted potatoes.
Christy Kirk is a freelance writer who lives in Little Texas.