Meat your maker??

shiptoncowsOne film I shall not be watching this year is the Bafta award winning 73 cows. It is a film about a farmer, Jay Wilde, who becomes a vegan and puts his cows out to grass, literally, to live out their natural lifespan. Luckily, I imagine he will be collecting some royalties from the film as the disposal costs when the cows die would bankrupt most small farmers, let alone feeding and looking after them for years. Sorry, no sense of romance, most of us non-vegan farmers.

After Veganuary and a plethora of stories in the media about the morality of becoming a vegan, livestock farmers are having a frustrating time. A particular bugbear of mine is when commentators in the paper write that they know they should be a vegan but “doesn’t sirloin steak taste too good to forgo?” No, no, no. It is moral to eat meat if you want to, quite apart from tasting good. What a poorer country we would be with no sheep on the hillsides, no cattle in the pastures or chicken and pigs in the farmyard. If animals are looked after well at all stages of their life, I believe that is better than no life at all.

Whilst I do not believe meat will disappear from the modern diet, I think people will eat less meat and also be more particular about how it is produced. We are now using our new straw yards for the pigs so we are moving towards a more extensive system and we have been selling sausages, ham and bacon along with the free-range turkeys at Christmas: by buying locally consumers can be more assured of how their food has been produced.

On the arable side, the beautiful weather at the end of February allowed us to complete planting the spring barley – about two months earlier than last year when we had such a wet spring. You may have noticed the miscanthus (elephant grass) alongside Dog Kennel Lane has been cut. The autumn sown crops are looking good and work on the land is generally up to date. That sounds much too optimistic so I had better add the proviso that all can change very quickly – harvest is a long way off!

Mike Hartley

April – May 2019