Monday, July 21, 2008


This weekend we have mostly been eating beef in a tent.

Saturday night saw Chirbury and Marton Young Farmers' celebrating their 50th Anniversary in fine and jocular style. Of the 310 persons who sat down to eat about 20 were founding members of the Club - so there was much catching up to do. At the other end of the scale the youngsters - today's members - got on with having a good time. Perhaps in 50 years time they too will be keen to find a quiet spot away from the dance floor to talk over old times. Oh, beef, ham and salads were on the menu.

This morning saw the same marquee spruced up. (And believe me it was the last place many of us wanted to be this morning at 8.00am with our brushes, bin bags and damp cloths.) The stink of stale beer and damp grass eventually disappeared as tables were re-laid with fresh linen and cutlery. Lunch time saw a fund raiser for the Village Hall and St Mark's Church Marton. Erm, more beef, ham and turkey, accompanied by salads, were on the menu.

We've been well fed this weekend - both meals were delicious, fresh and ample. I'm sure the meat was locally sourced.

Earlier this week I watched a caesarian section performed on a cow in the shed just over the garden wall. This is one of the realities of stock production - and thankfully relatively unusual - but a reminder of the price we pay to get food on our table nonetheless.

It seemed the calf was enormous - the result of some selective breeding for size and muscle - and that the cow would be unable to give birth naturally. The Vet was called and the operation quickly carried out under lights powered by a throbbing generator. The wet and slippery calf was hauled from out of its mother - revealing itself to be indeed a beast of monstrous proportions. Sadly there was no heart beat, no sign of life at all and the dead wet body was left to steam on the strawed floor while the more urgent task of reconstructing mother was underway. Little time then for reflection on the loss of a life and of potential income for these beef producers.

The cow, her several layers restitched, is doing well apparently. She has been given another calf - 'dressed' in the skin of her own dead one - and hopefully they will bond. In a few days time they should be out in the little triangular field across the lane which seems to serve as a staging post for the vulnerable, sick and lame.

How easy it is, as a consumer, to buy prepare and eat meat to be enjoyed as we have done this weekend. My ringside seat at the operation reminds me that it is not all plain sailing by any means.

Finally we have cows grazing on our new field - yes, the small mountain kingdom of Trelystan is fractionally larger than it was last week. First job is to get the grass down and get rid of some of the nettles and thistles which have established themselves there. We've borrowed 7 cows and are hoping that the knee high grass will keep them busy and that the incident involving A Very Nice Tree won't be repeated and that the hen house roof - used as a scratching post - when repaired will stay in pristine condition.
I think this afternoon in the sunshine things look pretty good out there.


Lindsay said...

Congrats - Blog of the Month - Countryfile.

Pipany said...

I think 'Beef in a Tent' would make a great title for a book!!! Lovely pictures and great blog too xx

kissa said...

Your description of rural life with both the good, the not so good and the beautiful protrays life as it is lived in your tiny pocket of this green and pleasant land. It is always such a delight to read.

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Yes congrats on Blog of the month in Countryfile - when are you going to have a burst of boasting. I know, I know, not your style . . . but well deserved.

Cavan Scott has joined Purplecoo - but I think I must have scared him off as he vanished after I verified him.

Hope mum cow is ok and that she bonds with her adopted baby. Will she be able to produce milk ok.

ChrisH said...

That was a fascinating post - it really brought home the realities of rural life - the photos are super.

mountainear said...

Lindsay and WW - I'm a little mystified as I don't think I've been awarded anything. Hey ho.

ChrisH said...

whilst you ponder on that, Mountaineer, I have tagged you to write six random things about yourself... sorry!

Cav said...

You have indeed been awarded our blog of the month. Our August issue is out now and features a glowing write up of this very blog. Turn to page 9 to see.

I have indeed purple coo but have been off and about on travels for Countryfile ever since. I will be making my first posts later.

In the meantime congratulations on being our blog of the month.