Monday, 2 April 2012

Some New Additions To The Ranch.

Howdy Folks!!

These are four of the new lads to the ranch (smallholding) in West Cork, Southern Ireland.  Shall I introduce you to them?

OK.  Top left:  Lightning.  Top right:  Bambi.    The other two are:  Dal boy (looks like a Dalmatian) and Archie: The British Friesian.  Even though he moos with a West Cork accent.

We will be back to some more of the fictional allotment and smallholding characters on Wednesday.  Maybe tomorrow if it rains!



  1. Bonny looking stirks mate, what's their pedigree? You'll have a bit of hay to make this year.

    How long to beef?

    All complete with number tags, they always look sad to me, just a number.
    The British Cattle Movement Centre is here in Workington, I think it was located here to try and replace some of the real jobs lost when they closed the pits and the steelworks. Employs a few hundred on minimum wage.
    Nice to know where all our cattle are, more big brother stuff.

  2. Hi Cumbrian,

    They are British Friesian crosses and Jersey Crosses. Cattle prices have gone absolutely crazy in Ireland. You can pay five hundred Euro for a couple of days old 'dropped' calf. I was nearly priced out of the market last year. Then I bought some sheep which I sold and bought the lads above. We also have some stronger cattle (including the poorly bullock) on the pasture overlooking the bay. How can cattle be making money in a recession? Think it's to do with the growing world population. I dunno Mr Cumbrian. We can't eat the grass ourselves and we 'try' to farm but small farmers are definitely a dying breed. I farm for sentiment. It was my great grandparents farm and I'm not going to be the one who gives up.

    Yes the earrings. They are even talking of giving them the micro chip in the future. Like you say: Big Brother.

    We made a field of loose hay last year. I just paid somebody to cut it and turn it and we piked it and drew it in with a pallet on my bale handler. It was fun and took 3 days.

    They reckon a good bull can be finished in 16 months. Ours will probably be come bullocks and I will sell them next summer? My first two 'dropped calves' heifers paid for the electricity in our new house.

    There's very jobs here. See the EEC announced today unemployment is now at 10%. Wouldn't you think we stopped exporting stuff from China and the like?

    The single farm payment and the EEC? Hmm..., that's a good one!
    Can't say I like it myself. I reckon I would say different though if I was dairy farmer or a bureaucrat!

    Thanks Cumbrian.

  3. Dunno how beef's keeping its price up, maybe livestock is beleived to be a good investment in uncertain times? You can always eat them.

    Yes mate, the small farmer, a rare breed now, and getting rarer by the month I would guess. We still have a few medium-sized farms in West Cumbria, but the landscape doesn't lend itself to mass-production very readily. We don't have enough flat land for the big grain fields and massive Claas combines.

    But the old family farms have mostly disppeared, mixed farming isn't very profitable as you know, the small dairy herd is no more, just massive (to me anyway) Freisan herds milked in herring-bone parlours 3 times a day into big tanks then into bigger tankers and taken away to some huge central factory. Cows with numbers.
    Big beef enterprises in covered yards as the call them, crowded together for months, more numbered ear-rings.
    Or chicken farms with several thousand prisoner birds at 3 per square foot replaced annually and producing thousands of small/medium eggs. They don't even have a number, and I was told when they finish first years laying they're not even good enough for oven-ready birds, just pies and pet food.
    Or piggeries with high numbers captive landrace sows artificially inseminated for maximum return. More numbers I suppose, just anonymous pork producing machines.
    Or a lot of sheep, various crosses, they thrive on the higher bits, just now's lambing so they're inbye. Dunno if they have numbers.
    Or greenhouses several acres in size, probably tomatoes and cucumbers, they don't need numbers.
    Or some of them don't seem to do much, just grass lettings and shooting syndicates. Shooting's an expensive hobby, but it doesn't employ many.

    The ones that are left are a bit bigger, but less men and more bigger machinery. And from what I understand, subsidies are based on acreage (or hectarage?) so more land = more subsidies?

    I'd love to see a return to the old ways, a countryside made up of varied crops and animals, with a lot of wildlife and workers. But I doubt we'll see it, it won't happen until the oil runs out.
    Nice to hear you made hay in the traditional way, bet it smelled lovely, one of my favourite smells new-mown and drying grass.

    Raggy cat's sitting on the window cill outside watching me.

  4. Yes and again yes. I totally agree with what you say. The countryside is changing forever for the small farmer. There is even a argument that some believe there is a ethnic-al cleansing of working class people from the countryside.

    I wouldn't quite agree. However there is very little work or public transport or affordable housing for anybody to be able to live there. Even the Green party doesn't believe in one off housing.

    We live a good life in terms of living in beautiful surroundings and we grow a bit of veg,no mortgage..., yet there is no work or a pub or social life. Don't think I would like to go back to living in a town, but towns do have jobs and infrastructure like chip-shops, pubs and car-boot sales.

    The loose hay did smell wonderful and free from the dust that you get in the square bales.

    I love Thomas Hardy's fictional Wessex that mirrors your old country ways. A countryside made up of varied crops and animals with a lot of wildlife and workers.

    Thanks for the really thought provoking comments Cumbrian.

  5. Dunno about the ethnical cleansing bit, sounds very extreme, but looking at the make-up of some of our villages and their occupants, I have to agree it might seem that way, in a lot of our areas local people just can't afford local property.

    Local accents are being lost of forgotten, and listening to the buzz of conversation, if there is any, in what few pubs are left, you hear a bewildering mixture of accents. It amuses me sometimes to try and guess where they come from. Some of them are easy, but some are quite hard to identify, and asking the speaker, in a nice way, produces some strange answers.
    (Another blog topic "what's your local accent"?)

    Like you I'd hate to live in a town again, but it's nice to be within easy reach of their amenities.

    Just admiring your handsome new chaps again, Dal boy has a different look, I can see the Freisan, but broad face, strange pattern, nice blocky beef build, wondering what the cross was? Hereford?

    Raggy cat came in first thing, biscuits and milk, asleep on kitchen chair.

  6. Thanks for that Cumbrian. I agree that the 'ethnical cleansing of the working class in the countryside does sound very extreme. It does make you wonder sometimes though?

    Property in rural Ireland (Ireland full stop) is becoming more affordable due to falling house prices. However even if somebody moved to the countryside and bought a house, I think they would find it very difficult to find any employment.

    I believe in 1970's you could buy a farm for thirty grand, but who had thirty thousand?

    They call the strangers here 'Blow Ins'. There are a lot of Germans, Dutch, American, French and people from good old Blighty. I have noticed that a lot of these people seem to mix with their own nationality. I once wrote a blog post asking why there are no English pubs in Ireland. There are plenty of 'Irish' pubs all over the world.

    Dal boy is supposed to be a Friesan - Jersey Cross. Perhaps his mothers father was an Hereford bull?

    I could wax lyrically about the Hereford all day. Fantastic temperament, suitable to most types of land and weather and wonderful meat. That's another one of my rants. Why do butchers not state the breed of animal the meat is? The same can be said about vegetables. We have no idea about the different varieties.

    We managed to catch the bullock and sniffed and examined his hoof. No rot or thorns. So he must have just sprained it.

    Raggy cat sounds a very content and happy cat.


  7. Yes, so's property prices in West Cunbria, but it's still as un-affordable because the available work is thin on the ground, and wages tend to hover around the minimum. There's also an awful lot of part-time working and "job sharing". The major employer is Sellafield, but not everybody can work there, and the ones that do have no interest in farming. So we're seeing the 2-tier system in operation "haves" and "have nots" (and the usual selection of "no hopers") where the haves can afford the nice houses in nice areas and the have nots get the second pick at what's left.

    Thirty grand might have bought a farm here in the 60s, I doubt the 70s, but like you say, who had that sort of money then? Most of the agricultural land is inherited or rented anyway.
    Rightly of wrongly, I was told the biggest farmer in England is the Co-op.

    Butchers probably don't state the breed because they are of the opinion that customers wouldn't like to associate their Sunday joint with the attractive animals they see grazing in the fields. I know this perhaps wouldn't matter too much in the cities, some people have possibly never actually seen a real animal, so providing them with the information that their evening meal purchase once formed part of the arse-end of a Hereford stirk would be quite meaningless. And anyone who understands meat and butchery will either know or will ask.
    Different in Spain, the bull that puts up the best fight in the bull-ring is auctioned to local butchers, and always makes a good price, restaurants advertise the fact that they're serving part of him as todays special, it's a point of honour. Dunno why, I was under the impression that you don't stress a beast just before slaughter, you have to be his best friend, otherwise stress-released enzymes (or whatever) can efect the taste of the flesh. But I stand to be corrected if there's any slaughter men or traditional butchers reading.

    Same with vegetables, I could beleive that quite a high percentage of the population neither know nor care where their food comes from, or even that there's different varieties. And most of the shelf-stackers in the super-store produce aisle are not much wiser. I even see packs of peeled potatoes, mashed potatoes, ready cut carrots, etc, and wonder if some people have lost the ability (if they ever had it) to peel and chop their own vegetables?

    Irish pubs, you're right I see them everywhere, even would you believe Bangkok?
    Maybe we should go to China and open an English take-away?

    Pleased to hear the bullock's OK, how big are these ones?

    Indian Chief 'Two Eagles' was asked by a white government official, 'You have observed the white man for 90 years. You've seen his wars and his technological advances. You've seen his progress, and the damage he's done.'

    The Chief nodded in agreement.

    The official continued, 'Considering all these events, in your opinion, where did the white man go wrong?'

    The Chief stared at the government official for over a minute and then calmly replied. 'When white man find land, Indians running it, no taxes, no debt, plenty buffalo, plenty beaver, clean water.
    Women did all the work, Medicine man free. Indian man spend all day hunting and fishing; all night having sex.'

    Then the chief leaned back and smiled. 'Only white man dumb enough to think he could improve system like that.

    Contented cat woke up, ate a few biccies and lapped a bit of milk, sauntered out for half an hour, and came back, currently in front of coal-effect gas fire.
    And it's raining.

  8. I am a bit more cynical than to believe the meat-breed assocaition with Sunday dinner. If you go in a good restaurant they will state the breed; Aberdeen, Belted Galloway, Hereford...., McDonalds advertising states they use Arberdeen Angus in their Big Macs. I think supermarkets especially, just use whatever meat there is available. Be it an old sow or a dry cow (they are making great money)they all end up in a pre-packed piece in the supermarket fridge. They even vacuum meat off the floor and make great food delights like chicken nuggets or kebabs. Nothing gets wasted and nobody asks what it is they are eating. I don't buy pre-packed meat on principle.

    You're right about not stressing animals before slaughter. However the powers that be will not allow people to employ a slaughterman to come to the farm and shoot the animals whilst they are grazing. Instead the poor animal travels hundreds of miles (some times) and fasted and stressed like you say.

    I am sure supermarkets spray preservatives on their vegetables. I can pick a lettuce in a morning and it's completely wilted by evening. The supermarket bought one's are still fresh as a daisy in two days time. Rather like a lot of the country crafts that have been lost forever. We have lost our knowledge of what is a good variety of fruit or vegetable. If ever there was a reason to get an allotment it's got to be to know what you're eating and taste.

    We have 3 eight month old cattle. Two Aberdeen Angus (one bullock, one heifer) and a White-head heifer. We also keep ducks for their eggs and I have separate herd numbers for pigs and sheep. More red tape.

    Once went in a Durty Nellie's 'Oirish' pub in France. Ordered a Guinness. The French barmaid made a Shamrock shape in the foam and not one of us could speak the other persons language. Thank God for hand signals for pints of porter.

    Like your idea of starting a English pub in China. Could do with some in Ireland. Watched United beat Blackburn last night and saw a Thwaites bitter advert on one of the advertising hoardings - sheer torture!

    They have started selling Vimto in some of the supermarkets. All we need now is some Lancashire Crumbly cheese, Hollands pies and some northern bitter!

    Great Indian joke.


  9. Forgot to say Cumbrian that the other cattle are 8 months old!! Sorry about the typo's also. Where's Arberdeen?

  10. Never noticed the typos.

    Yes, a strange rule, all animals must meet their end at a registered and approved abbotoir. Taken from home in a trailer or bull-wagon, un-loaded into a strange noisy place together with several hundred other equally confused and frightened beasts, led into a ring, then back to another pen to await loading onto another wagon, taken to another strange place, then shot.
    And they think the animals don't know where they are?
    I can't honestly imagine a better way to stress them out?
    But that's the way it must happen now.

    Contrast the home slaughter method, no inkling of what's going to happen, enjoying life up to the last minute. I know which I'd prefer.

    I once heard supermarket foodstuffs are treated by something called irradiation to keep them looking fresh for longer. You're right about the fresh garden stuff, my next door neigbour gave me one of his prize cabbages, I don't think we finished it before it turned brown, but a supermarket cabbage can last for weeks.

    The shamrock, nice to see that touch, I remember drinking Guinness with a friend in alittle place called Bastardstown (Yes really, they were talking about changing the name) near Kilmore Quay in Wexford, the barman asked our names and put our initial on each pint, it was still discernable at the bottom of the glass. Good stuff.

    Aberdeen's two-thirds of the way up Scotland facing the North Sea.

    Sex is like air. It only becomes really important when you aren't getting any.

    Raggy cat waiting to come in at 6:30, now sleepimg on its kitchen chair. You're right, it has a good life.

  11. I like the way Organic animals are treated. They give the animals straw to lie on and they are despatched at small and local slaughter-houses. I can't see why they can't be shot on the farm. If a cow breaks it's leg you can get somebody to humanely kill it. In

    I don't use any man-made chemicals on my vegetables. A lot of shop bought vegetables and fruit taste of fertilizer and they could be covered in pesticides and weed killers. Once you have grown your own fresh (plot to sink to pan) vegetables you never want to go back to the chemical one's. I totally agree with you about the cabbage Cumbrian.

    Keep saying I will go to Wexford for a break. John Seymour lived there for a few years. Been through Wexford city but never toured around Wexford. They sell Wexford potatoes and strawberries down here.

    Raggy cat seems very content.



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