Posts Tagged ‘farming’

British Farming Extinction

January 23, 2018

farmingRecently I read an article ‘what if everyone in the UK became vegetarian’ and it was absolute bollocks.

I really hated the way it used farmers as a target, looking for ways to strike killing animals from our culture. There is a reason why eating meat in our culture has survived so long and its not just because it tastes so good. I wanted to write my own strike back article to show just how important is, a kind of ‘what if’ story like the ones I’ve been watching on youtube recently (and I’m not addicted – damn you alternate history).

One of the things that annoys me is small farms are grouped in with the commercial giants that cause serious damage. When the media has a go at the agricultural industry it snaps at the throat of ‘farmers’ but this is an extreme over simplification. Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising as the newspaper and internet likes to do that, put a massive label on what they don’t know and shove it into a folder with a stereotypical description. However, this does have a seriously unfair downside of suggesting the damage caused by commercial farms are caused by the small farmer too.

My uncle has a 100 acre farm, a lot of woodland, with just 100 sheep and about 40 cattle. That’s a small farm nowadays though it used to be big once upon a time. How the giants of England and West Wales have grown. He uses fertilisers but primarily spread the manure his animals produce whilst pesticides are avoided. What’s the point when you don’t grow crops. Field are harvested for grass but these grow a long time and species, such as the field mouse, have learnt to become part of the farm year and move on when its time for the grass to be cut. Around these stretches of land hedges grow, maintaining biodiversity and allowing wild animals, insects and flowers to inhabit the area.

This isn’t some happy self-sufficient smallholding, but a farm that (just about) makes its living from agriculture and so we’re crammed into the same category as the big giants. We’re a farm so we must be washing nitrogen into the waterways. We’re a farm, so we must be emitting masses of greenhouse gases. We’re a farm, so we must hacking apart the ecosystems for our own good. Have you ever thought how the use of monoculture, Uks major form of vegetable production, damages the number of species? Livestock farming requires hedges that act as shelter for the animals but it also provides biodiversity. Monoculture doesn’t do that.

Did you know that only 9% of greenhouse gases is produced from UK agriculture? Before slamming the farmers, who have maintained our landscapes for years, tackle the problems brought on by industry and cars! Not only do these produce fumes that poison the atmosphere but they release fumes that affect the direct landscape as well. Have you ever walked past a car that’s pouring out exhaust fumes? Jesus!

Don’t get me started on hedges. Well I’ve started now so I’m going to rant anyway. Farms have maintained the hedges for years, laying them then shaping them until they need laying again. This thickens the hedges and makes them good habitats for wild birds and insects, helping the biodiversity of our ecosystems. I heard about an article where someone commented that farmers shouldn’t cut the hedges but lay them and just leave them. Do you know what would happen? All you’d end up with is tall trees without that nice bushiness that the animals love. Yes, if you want trees growing up in a line go for it but if you want that thick, lovely hedge habitat then let the farmers get on with their work!

Deep breath.

So what would happen if farmers just walked off the face of the UK? I tell you, sometimes they’re tempted. Without them those lovely green fields that hikers love to look out over while climbing the hills would fold to succession. Primarily, the UK would be a load of forest. Unless you went up to the mountains where you could look down there wouldn’t be any lovely views or skies to stare up at the stars while you walk (remember those lovely canopies), just the same old tree territory. Of course the roads have to be maintained by the government now and money has to come out of the tax payers pocket for the damage caused by trees.

Of course lets not forget the hedges, or the lack now of them. No more pretty hawthorn where the little birds dance. Now its just trees (not always bad) where animals hide away and can’t be seen nearly as well (not so good). You don’t get to hike along pointing at the pretty lambs or baby calves, there’s no cows calling or laughing as the sheep go chasing the farmer on his quad bike. Your kids get to look at trees on that 2 to 3 hour journey across the countryside with ‘are we nearly there’ chanted repeatedly.

I spy with my little eye, something beginning with T.

Trees.

Yup

Anyways I’m joining to now shut up as I’ve typed enough. I could keep on writing about economy and all that jazz but maybe I’ll save it for another day. After a couple of days contemplating what to write I came across my passions in farming and how we need to work with farmers, not against them. But that’s just my opinion.

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Manage Et Trois

October 26, 2009

     Anyone who could see me at the moment would watch in morbid fascination as I make my way around the sows, torch in hand. As they stuff down their food, I shine the beam of light on their backside, illuminating it like an angel’s halo only maybe a bit more X-rated.

     There’s a lot you can tell from a backside: you’d be surprised. Mucus can indicate abortion; redness can show infection or heat; and swollen, floppiness of the private parts can show if the animal is getting ready to give birth. It’s certainly important to investigate these things.

     Doesn’t make it any better though does it?

     But you’d be surprised. This is part of an everyday life, not just with the pigs but the cattle too. As you move through the herd, it’s important to spot the frantic cow filled with sexual eagerness as it mounts another or the start of the amniotic sac creeping out to bring another life to the world. Heat, pregnancy, illness and birth are all essential parts to an animal’s life that the farmer has to spot. I’d like to think I’m good at it; working with animals seems to be my best skill in agriculture.

     Even so, I’ve been in more awkward positions. Originally I started using artificial insemination to fertilise my sows. This involves inserting a tube into the sow’s genitalia once it’s ready for mating but this is much harder than expected. A sow is certainly crotchety when in heat (think of the fairer sex of the species during PMT) and will only let you enter the tube at the right time so you have to test to see if she’s willing to stand legs akimbo. How I hear you ask (I have your curiosity now)? Well, the best method is to see if she’s standing.

     Standing is a process where she waits for the boar to mount her, steady as a rock, almost refusing to move for anything. Sid has butted, bitten and rubbed up against his sows in a courtship ritual but when standing they have held still and firm until mounted and satisfied (I’ve known some women like that).

     By placing hands on the sow’s back and essentially straddling her to see if she’ll stand you can check to see if she’s ready. It makes you feel quite violated. The first time I felt used when she wandered away afterwards without even giving me her number. Women.

    Jealously must certainly be refrained in farming when a lot of attention has to go to the animals but I think my girlfriend had no problems here. More likely she had to restrain herself from laughing too much. Little did I know that I was about to drag her into the effort, having her straddle the pig whilst I inserted the tube. Much easier and revenge was sweet; a good team effort.

     Thankfully A.I. was never really successful for me, probably because I didn’t have enough experience with pigs, and I bought Sid. Now, with frothing mouth and everlasting eagerness he does all the work whilst I get on with other jobs. I don’t think he even wants their phone number.