Four Mile Farm in Ball Ground, GA and a recipe for Marinated and Grilled Loin Lamb Chops
The sheep raised at Four Mile Farm are Hair Sheep and have milder tasting meat than the Wool Sheep. There is less lanolin in the hair of the Hair Sheep (compared to the Wool Sheep) and lanolin is what tends to make the meat taste gamey and strong. The hair on the Hair Sheep will shed out and form cotton balls. You may notice this in some of the photographs.
The sheep were very gentle and Allison said while they are not intelligent animals, they are really kind. She told us that if you call out and pretend to be a baby lamb that is lost, the sheep will look to help and find the baby because they are such kindhearted animals.
It was difficult to look at these cute lambs and cross over to the discussion about raising them for food. Allison said, “No one is going to eat lamb after this. You are making Vegans all over the world!” However, what is most important to me is the life the animals have lived up until the day they are slaughtered. These sheep are raised organically on a family farm, are loved and have a wonderful life until there is one really bad day, and even that is managed with the utmost of care and humanity.
“After a year, you know them well and it is sad and you feel bad, but then you eat the meat and it’s really good.” The Bryant’s six year old daughter even names each new lamb, so there is definitely a personal connection with every animal.
The Bryant’s sheep are raised on the farm twelve to eighteen months. They will achieve a weight between 80 to 100 pounds. The older and larger the sheep, the stronger the meat will taste. As with cows, there is a big difference in the breed and age of the animal in relation to the taste of the meat. You can read this information on their website regarding that subject.
The hanging weight of a sheep at 100 pounds is about 65 pounds and once fully processed, it will only yield about 40 pounds of meat. Allison told us that she will walk out with just a small bag of meat from one animal. “It is not economical to raise sheep. We just break even.”
The Bryants also raise cows for grass fed beef. Allison buys breeds of cattle that are calmer like Hereford, Black Baldy, Limousin and most recently (since our visit), Belted Galloways. Once again, Chili demonstrated his herding ability with the cows.
“It takes years to train the dogs to herd and herding cattle is much more difficult (than herding sheep). You cannot make the dog do this as easily. While sheep might just knock you over during the process, a 700 or 800 pound cow could run you over and kill you or the dog.”
When I asked Allison if they ever missed city life, she told us that she and Michael had gone to Atlanta for a weekend not long ago. While they do much of their own cooking with food they raise, they still enjoy an occasional meal out. They went to one of their old spots for brunch and sat at a very packed bar to dine. People were elbowing her as she tried to cut her food. “Really? You people like this?” I have to agree that their peaceful lifestyle is very appealing.
So, how does a professional woman originally from Massachusetts with an undergraduate degree from Georgia Tech and a Master’s from Georgia State break into the ranks of the traditional Southern male farmer? Well, it took her awhile. “Everything I’ve learned, I have done it wrong three times before.”
“They (the men) told me I talked funny, even after living here for 23 years.” She knew the men were thinking “Lady, get a real job.” and once in awhile was asked “Do you need me to back your trailer in for you?” Now they all know Allison and her voice. She no longer hears, “When your husband gets home, call me,” because they know she is the farmer.
Thank you so much to Allison for taking the time to share a bit of your daily life at Four Mile Farm with us. It was a pleasure meeting you and seeing Chili in action. I will be writing another post on our visit to Four Mile Farm, so stay tuned.
If you live in the Atlanta or the North Georgia area, Allison sells her lamb and beef in Kennesaw at the Farmers’ Market Basket and at the Big Canoe Farmers’ Market.
I want to share a recipe for marinated lamb chops from the Bryants with you. This is the way they like to prepare their lamb chops. We did bring home two loin lamb chops from the farm and as promised, the meat was extremely mild and very tender. This marinade is perfect with the subtle flavors of the lamb. We grilled the chops outdoors and they were delightful served with some of spring’s fresh asparagus.
Grilled Loin Lamb Chops with Red Wine, Garlic, Rosemary and Mint
Allison Bryant, of Four Mile Farm in Ball Ground, GA, said they like to marinate their lamb chops in a mix of olive oil, Balsamic vinegar, garlic, rosemary and mint. I made a marinade with red wine vinegar in place of the Balsamic vinegar and added the garlic and the suggested herbs to taste. Feel free to add more or less of any of the ingredients to your personal preference.
2 loin lamb chops
1/2 cup Extra Virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons to 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, to taste
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Rosemary, or to taste
2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint, or to taste
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Combine all ingredients for the marinade in a small bowl and whisk. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary. Place lamb chops in a shallow glass pan and drizzle marinade over the chops. Turn once to coat. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least one hour, turning halfway through.
Prepare the grill. Meanwhile, take lamb chops out of the refrigerator and allow them to come to room temperature. Once the grill is hot, grill the chops about 3 to 5 minutes on one side and then turn to cook on the other side another 3 to 5 minutes, or until desired doneness. * The proper amount of time to cook will depend on the thickness of your lamb chop.