I ended my last article with a celebration of a politician resigning. I begin this one on a similar note; well, with a bit more excitement this time.
Not one but two! Braverman and Coffey will go down in history for many things, few of which will be positive. It was exactly 12 months ago when I last did a comment piece. To say plenty has happened since then would be an understatement.
We got a farm tenancy back in April, on a 61-acre farm, with Hampshire County Council. I still can’t believe that I’m farming in my own right. It was part of our 5-year plan to have our own patch of land somewhere to farm but this came as a surprise. We have pigs (naturally), sheep, goats, and a small human.
I’m 6.5 months into self-employment and 6.5 weeks in to being a dad – I never knew this kind of tiredness existed! What is sleep?
Aside from a few inevitable wobbles, I’ve enjoyed every bit of our journey so far. From getting a phone call from Network Rail about some brown pigs (aka ginger ninjas) on the Titchfield line whilst I was 2.5 hours away from home, en route back from picking up goats, to doing hog roasts and farmers’ markets. We stumbled upon a hog roast company for sale a month into our tenancy. Thanks to Nikki and her go-getter attitude, we acquired our most successful enterprise yet.
With the ubiquitous unfair supply chain, it is a relief to have the capability to dictate the price of our products. Additionally, I have direct contact with the customer which helps with telling our story – soy free diets, locally grown cereals, free range (B-road roundabout level free range). I have also been butchering as an apprentice at a local farm shop 3 days a week.
There is something about looking after an animal from day zero to plate, having been involved in every stage of its life bar the slaughter process (I’m planning to get a slaughter license when I can spare a few consecutive weeks to work in an abattoir). The goal is to have our own processing unit on farm within the next 12 months. Again, shortening that chain even more and keeping myself busy.
Talking of supply chains, I was recently involved in a nationwide supermarket depot blockade. The main aim for this was to get supermarkets to listen to farmers and finally pay fairly for produce.
Nothing significant has changed yet but I keep reminding myself that a certain European city wasn’t built in a day.
Sustainable farm businesses would certainly benefit everyone along the supply chain – as obvious as this sounds, it seems like astronomy to many. Or maybe they just know it, but they don’t care enough to do anything about it.
- Picture, credit: Flavian Obiero