The farm has been hemorrhaging money. When I bought the farm five years ago my bank manager asked me whether it would “wash its face”. “Of course”, I replied “once I get the hang of things”. The truth must be that I never quite did get the hang of things because the more we did, the more money we lost. Here are two examples of the difference between the dream and reality.
The dream: To keep our pigs outdoors and never subject them to the indignity of being penned inside.
The reality: The pigs became wild. I sold some to a farmer who keeps wild boars and he said my Middle Whites were the wildest creatures he had ever encountered, perfectly capable of jumping a four foot fence.
The dream: To keep a herd of rare-breed Galloway cattle.
The reality: An official from Defra turns up to test the cattle for TB. Two of the cattle show a positive reaction. The official immediately condemns them to death. He ticks a wrong box on the form, so that when they arrive at the abattoir they have to be thrown in the bin. Tests later show that the cattle were perfectly healthy all along. The official is uninterested in offering either an apology or adequate compensation. This has happened twice.
It has been a pleasure working with farmers in the area who, over the generations, have developed a cynicism and resilience which suits them to this life. Today, Ian Walker of Harrison Coward very skillfully extracted a good price for the farm. In the end it has washed its face. I’m left with my Wagyu cattle and a few pigs- and a little more cynicism and realism than I had when I started.