Blog Index
The journal that this archive was targeting has been deleted. Please update your configuration.
Navigation
Tuesday
Jul112017

10 July 2017

The calves in the picture arrived today from another organic farm, and are part of a long term experiment in cooperation with another producer whereby he will sell us surplus calves and we will finish them for sale in the butchery. These ones are twelve weeks old and should be ready in a couple of years.

The Hadza, or Hadzabe, are an indigenous ethnic group in north-central Tanzania, living around Lake Eyasi in the central Rift Valley and in the neighboring Serengeti Plateau. The Hadza number just under 1,000. They are one of the very few hunter gatherer peoples still in existence. This very existence is threatened by encroaching land clearance for farming, tourism and the lure of ‘civilization.’ They featured in Dan Saladino’s Food Programme over the last couple of weeks. Described as always hungry but never starving, scientists are becoming entranced by the sheer number of bugs that live in their guts. There is evidence that seems to suggest a connection between the huge variety of foods the Hadza eat and the complete absence of many western diseases that keep the NHS so busy. The obvious rejoinder to this is that the Hadza die so young from other things that they don’t have time to succumb to the diseases of Western excess. It was an interesting programme and asked more questions than it answered. Nevertheless, so many diseases seem to result to some extent from bad diet that I wished them well in their research – anything that leads to a realistic prospect of spending less money on the NHS has got to be a good thing. (Don’t forget that when the NHS was started, they forecast that the cost of it would diminish as the nation’s health improved.) I also wish the Hadza well – they seemed nice people.

Which brings me seamlessly onto the humble blackcurrant, of which we grow quite a few, but sell hardly any. Blackcurrants contain eight times the anti-oxidants contained in that bland American import the blueberry. They also make the most wonderful jam and are exquisite in blackcurrant crumble. Both of these delights contain sugar, which as such is unknown to the Hadza.  Sweetness however is something they crave and an important part of their diet is honey when they can get a hold of it. Apparently they will absolutely stuff themselves with up to 15000 calories at a sitting! They are certainly in no position to criticize me for eating jam or crumble. We also are harvesting gooseberries, and raspberries and possible red currants later in the week. It’s a short season – make the most of it.

Finally, in yet another incredible demonstration of synchronized birthing, two of the sows on the farm walk have produced piglets. It’ll probably be a week or two before they come close enough to the lane for you to actually see them, but in the meantime, Hein has posted a video on Facebook.

See you soon.

Tom

Tuesday
Jul042017

04 July 2017

Thanks to the customer who sent me this picture of the ducklings on the dam – I’ve no idea how he marshalled them into such a disciplined line. I rarely see more than one at a time. He took several more photos while out on the farm walk – all of which demonstrate that even on mizzly July afternoon, there’s a lot of interesting things to see.
 
On a recent visit to London Patricia and I visited the Whole Food Store, an American owned outlet which (amongst other things) sells a lot of organic product. We were seriously impressed – the variety and volume of lines was amazing. It turns out that we weren’t the only ones to be impressed – Amazon have just announced their intention of buying out the Wholefoods chain (460 stores for £10.8 billion). A few years ago Amazon sold only books, and those at a loss. Now you can scarcely buy anything anywhere without the feeling that Amazon have been involved somewhere in the transaction. The Grocer magazine recently featured our farm shop describing us as one of the very few truly independent shops left in the country. It was a flattering article – but it’s a bit like being the last of the Mohicans.  Sometimes you feel the tide of history is against you.
 
That said, we constantly try to evolve – hardly a week goes by without some new product gracing our shelves or appearing on our menu. And the changing seasons bring constant change to the farm walk. We hope it makes a visit to Ballylagan a unique experience.

See you soon.

Tom.

Tuesday
Jul042017

26 June 2017

Not separating the sheep from the goats, but weaning the lambs from their mothers.
 
I don’t know at what time Jennifer and Hein got up on Sunday morning, but by the time I was fully conscious and stepped outside the door, I was already getting the sounds of cross (that is ‘displeased’ not ‘cross bred’) sheep in glorious stereo. For the first 24 hours after lambs are separated from their mothers, both parent and child are inevitably agitated, and to try and limit the possibility of their breaking out of their respective fields we put them as far apart as the farm allows – roughly 100 metres from our house in either direction. They can probably scarcely hear each other, but we in the middle can hear both. At the time of writing this, more than a day later, both parents and children are calming down and once again concentrating on what sheep do best – eating grass.

See you soon.

Tom.

Tuesday
Jul042017

20 June 2017

It seems to me that the agricultural machinery used by contractors each year grows bigger and bigger, while our fields remain stubbornly the same size. I was listening to Adam Henson on Countryfile talking about using drones on his farm to identify the exact amounts of inputs to be used on his crops and at what intensity – thus preventing pointless over use and minimizing the impact of pesticides on nature. The things you can do with technology never cease to amaze me, but they assume and demand a scale of farming that foretells the future – Henson farms 650 hectares, more than ten times the amount of land we have. Since farming began, smaller farms have been driven out of business, and like the machinery that works the land, the size of farms has grown relentlessly. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. I know that If somebody offered to increase the size of this farm tenfold, I would be delighted. I’m not so sure how I would feel about dispossessing families of land they had occupied for centuries.

See you soon.

Tom.