News from the Farmgate by Milly Fyfe (Ed 123)
This Monday marked the first day of the lambing season for us. Over the next 6 weeks we will have 300 sheep to lamb and take care of. We are hopeful that the weather will pick up so we can turn the sheep out quite quickly. However, with it being so wet and cold, the grass just hasn’t grown. There is also the threat of more snow this weekend which has got us quite worried as we don’t want the new born lambs to suffer from the cold. We only have a limited amount of indoor space for the sheep to lamb and so when they are normally a few days old and strong enough, they are turned out to explore the big wide world outdoors. Andrew has been across to see our neighbour to hatch a plan if the weather does turns poor. We are now able to house the sheep and lambs in the neighbour’s indoor horse ménage for a few days so thankfully we have all eventualities covered!
A few weeks ago, we were lucky enough to pick up a few Gloucester Old Spot pigs at market which have grown really quickly. We have built up quite a reputation locally for our pork meat boxes and pigs for the freezer so the demand seems to grow and grow. It won’t be very long now before I have to organise for them to be taken to the abattoir and arrange delivery of the meat to my customers, some of whom are long standing as well as some new customers too. The word must be getting around and in fact I am starting to struggle to keep up with demand. A good problem to have.
Recently I have noticed a lot of activity on social media from animal rights activists and vegan extremists targeting and attacking farmers and their families personally. This annoys and upsets me greatly as there is a huge lack of understanding about how food is produced. The farming community in this country has nothing to hide due to our high animal welfare status and compassion for the animals we take great pride in taking care of during their life on farm. I have no problem with people choosing to make certain choices when it comes to what they eat, but why do they need to feel the need to campaign to try and convert others to their way of life too? Aren’t we lucky to have the option to be able to make a choice about what we eat and have access to healthy nutritious food that we can afford to buy.
I often use the phrase ‘don’t bite the hand that feeds you’ because after all farmers not only produces meat and dairy but also fruit, vegetables and grain too. The campaigners feel the need to dictate to the world and skew how practices are carried out to help gain traction and stir emotion. I have recently seen pictures for example where there have been captions inserted saying ‘look how this baby calf is being ‘murdered’ and in fact what is actually about to happen is that ear tags are being inserted into the calf’s ear. This is actually a legal requirement to ensure food safety and traceability through the supply chain!
I think most people are intelligent enough to realise that these pictures are being taken out of context, however it is also easy to see how some can be led and the recent rise of the vegan trend has grown.
Back on the farm and our baby boy Angus is growing at a rapid rate. He is now 4 months old and a healthy 14lbs. He comes everywhere with me either in the pushchair or sling and enjoys looking at all the animals whilst getting some fresh air. Andrew is hoping that this time next year he will be helping us with lambing duties. However, I think he has plenty of years ahead of him on the farm so I am enjoying having a healthy, happy baby who will not be little for much longer.