Another Reason to Eat Local

One of the nicest things about having a farm is that your produce makes for wonderful gifts. My family members are spread out around the country, and really appreciate a shipment of frozen meat that was raised on our farm.

We’d planned to send a box of lamb to my parents, right before Christmas. They ended up going out of town just as we were about to ship it, so I put the box back in our freezer. This week, the timing seemed perfect for everyone. The kids and I took Grandma & Grandpa’s package to FedEx last night, and called my folks to let them know it was on the way. They were thrilled, and said they’d keep an eye open for the truck tomorrow, so they could get the meat right back into the freezer.

Ah, FedEx. Remember their commercials from the 1970s and 80s, when they were brand new? They were the company to use when it “absolutely, positively, HAS to be there overnight.” This box sure fit that description.

When my cell phone rang this afternoon, and my mom’s cell number lit up the display, I assumed it was to let us know the meat had arrived. Instead, she was worried. They’d been watching all day, but there was still no sign of a FedEx truck. I dashed to my computer, kicked up the tracking website, and discovered something unsettling: the package was indeed shipped out to Arizona and arrived right on schedule this morning — but instead of going on a delivery truck, the next scan was at 4:38 this afternoon…IN MEMPHIS.

I got on the phone right away with FedEx, and the woman confirmed that the package had gone back to Memphis. She didn’t know why, and immediately opened up a trace, but we likely won’t have more information until tomorrow morning. She was very apologetic, and assured me that FedEx would cancel the shipping charges and reimburse me for the value of the meat.

But what is the value of this meat? I figured I could have sold it for $100, so that’s what I declared as the value. But how do you put a dollar number on 13 pounds of gourmet Icelandic lamb that was born and nurtured on your farm, carefully raised to maturity on organic pasture, taken to a custom butcher for processing, and promised as a special Christmas gift to one’s parents? I cannot go to the store and replace this package. I can’t even go to another Icelandic sheep breeder and buy 13 more pounds of meat; what made this package special was the fact that it was raised on our farm. It was a gift literally from the heart of our farm — not from a supermarket.

And now, that lamb is likely rotting in a FedEx facility in Memphis…for a reason that has yet to be explained. We’re just hoping that the cold weather will keep it from spoiling altogether. At a minimum, hopefully my folks will be able to cook up all that meat this week and invite their friends over for a series of feasts. They certainly won’t be able to put it back in the freezer and enjoy it over time at special occasions, as had been planned. But maybe something can be salvaged.

And, as I assured my father this evening when I had to call and break the news, when the kids and I go out to visit them in the Spring, we’ll hopefully be able to bring some more of that meat with us.

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