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.