Don’t name your steak. But you’ve got to live, right?
I used to hate (meat) farmers, because they’re heartless. It comes with the territory. The guy we bought this place off used to lease a paddock to a farmer who ‘grew’ calves for veal. Eventually the grief-stricken bellowing of the mother cows left without their little ones got to him, and he ended the lease arrangement. But I guess the farmer with the calves had no objection. That’s farmers for you.
And yet, they’ll tenderly nurse a newborn lamb beside the hearth, bottle-feeding through the night till it’s big enough to…what? Eat, that’s what. They care, and yet – they don’t care. So in our family discussion about how to make this place pay, eventually, one thing is resolutely crossed off the list – livestock for meat or milk.
So what does that leave? Nut trees, for one. Last week I went to a jazz evening (everyone there was over 75) and whaddya know – I ended up at the same table as the couple who first turned this property from bush-block to pasture, and planted the (now moribund) hazelnuts. Serendipity, thy name is Turnips!
‘I’m sorry to have to tell you,’ says me, guiltily, ‘they’re not doing very well.’
‘That’s because they haven’t been watered,’ says the old guy. ‘We set up this magnificent irrigation system, but nobody’s used it!’
‘That’s because we can’t work out how,’ says me. ‘How about you come down and show us!’
So I take their phone number and promise to invite them over sometime soon, so they can see what their precious property’s come to in the hands of city know-nothings, and tell us how to do it right. I’m looking forward to this very much – as I have no pride.
Anyway, apart from nuts, there are things like alpacas and goats, who give their fleece but not their lives to the cause of making us slightly more affluent. So I’m thinking this is the way to go, long term. I will become a goat-herd.
Angora goats are extremely cute – but they need the equivalent of Alcatraz to keep them from running off in search of greener pastures. They also stop you from going on holidays, unless you’ve lined up a goat-sitter.
So the plan is holiday, then fences, then goats. The gorgeous model pictured is Griselda, who belongs to one of my farming clients.
So, how do you feel about the carnivore business?