Frozen Lamb Storage and Distribution Space
Grant Award: $3,000
Steve has built a dedicated space to handle and store frozen lamb cuts. This space allows for the safe, sanitary and organized handling of lamb products. It has also opened a new revenue stream as Steve is better able to make on-farm sales of lamb cuts.
Steve converted a portion of an existing shed into a packing and storage area. He insulated and covered the walls of the 12-foot by 20-foot room, provided a sanitary floor finish, installed adequate lighting, created a walk-through door, and equipped the room with an upright freezer and stainless steel table. The upright freezer allows Steve to keep the meat better organized and in better condition than in the chest freezer that he currently has. He plans to display other local products for sale to further highlight local foods.
Old Mule Farm sells to three restaurants with potential new markets opening up in Charlotte and Greenville, S.C. In 2014, the farm hosted more than 80 visitors, despite zero promotions of farm tours.
Steve expanded the sheep herd with a 2014 WNC AgOptions grant, purchasing a new corral system. Because he was able to keep better track of the health of the herd using the equipment, lamb losses due to parasites dropped from 12 percent in previous years to 2 percent in 2014.
Steve said the farm has added to his family’s quality of life in many ways. “The farm has served as the backdrop for raising our three children,” he said. “Because of our off-farm careers (in law enforcement), our children learned to assume responsibility for many of the farm duties. They learned to work in all kinds of weather, tend to newborn lambs and sick animals unsupervised, and to make decisions that need to be made.”
Old Mule Farm is currently the only commercial sheep operation in Polk County.