Thursday 29 February 2024

No Farmers No Food No Future, Welsh Farmers Protests

After well over a month of intensive campaigning by the farmers of Wales to persuade the Welsh governmnent that their proposals for the future of Welsh farming are unworkable and will result in thousands of job losses, to say nothing of the impact on all other businesses that rely on the rural economy, culminated in a massive protest by farmers from all over Wales gathering yesterday in Cardiff to protest outside the Sennedd (the Welsh Assembly building). Unfortunately the Farmer & I were unable to attend but watched it all on live stream on Facebook. It was a very peaceful and well-behaved gathering with no incidents of any kind and there were a number of speakers who presented the points we were making in the hope that the Labour government would actually listen to us at last. There was support from the other political parties (though how much of that was political posturing for the upcoming election?) and a general feeling of optimism. However, just hours after the protest ended there was a debate in the Senedd on whether there should be review of the proposed document. The vote was split 50/50 and therefore the government will not review the proposal. This is a massive blow to us in the farming industry who had hope that we might have persuaded the government to actually listen to what we've saying. They have not and it seems have no intention of doing so. After the hard work by many people all over Wales to bring the farmers together and to unite the rural community to present our thoughts and feelings on the important matters involved it is a slap in the face. Farming families and businesses will be affected hugely by this. But, we must continue in the fight to ensure that Welsh agriculture is strong and that NO FARMERS NO FOOD continues to make people aware of what will be lost. If more people can begin to shop locally at farmer's markets, farm shops and farm gates buying food that is home-grown, sustainable and produced to the high standards of British farming rather than from supermarkets with cheap imported food produced to standards that would not be permitted in this country then our message is being heard. On a more cheerful and uplifting note tomorrow, 1st March, is St. David's Day. In Wales the day of our national saint is marked by the wearing of daffodils, and even leeks, on lapels and with school-children all over the country wearing national costume. Here is picture of my lovely daffodil bed in fron to the house and the snowdrops and daffodils in the garden of the holiday cottage, in their full springtime glory! Dydd Gwyl Dewi Hapus!

Friday 9 February 2024

Digon yw Digon, Enough is Enough

A week on from the farmer's protest meeting that we attended in Welshpool in mid-Wales at which over 1,100 farmers turned up, last night we went to the second meeting held nearer home in Carmarthen, only half an hour away instead of three hours. There was a huge turnout, quite overwhelming for the organisers as somewhere in the region of 3-4000 farmers arrived at Carmarthen mart, many in tractors, including Elder Son accomapnied by our eldest grandson. We drove in with Younger Son and joined the massive crowd in the cattle layerage area of the mart to hear what various speakers had to say. We had Welsh Assembly members who are sympathetic to the farmers' situation address us, as well representaives from the farming unions, the Young Farmer's Club (YFC), a vet and farmers. A coffin was carried in to the mart bearing a plaque saying 'In Memory of Welsh Farming' as that is how this whole business is being viewed... a drive to end agriculture in Wales. As at the previous meeting there was a lot of strong feeling expressed about the future of farming, very well expressed by the speaker from the YFC and in particular by one of our near neighbours who had his young son with him and spoke of his determination that the child should have a future in farming. It all got quite emotive but it is how we all feel, our children must be able to continue in the industry, after all as is being constantly reiterated No Farmers, No Food and farming is very long-term business. The campaigning and support for the farmers is widely shown on social media (do check it out on Facebook and X(Twitter) and on Youtube. Look particularly for Gareth Wyn Jones.) With such a massive response to the calls for action a mandate has been given for the organisers to make representation to the Welsh Assembly and try to make them see the potential damage that will be done by imposing the Sustainable Farming Scheme on Welsh farmers which would in effect, reduce productive land by 20% and all that that would bring with it...loss of over 5,000 jobs, reduction of livestock units and the knock-on effect to the other industries and businesses that are tied into farming, the vets, the abattoirs, the feed merchants, machinery suppliers etc. One of the other issues facing us is the Bovine TB problem (bTB). It is rife in Wales as there has been a refusal by Welsh government to sanction a badger cull in the Principality despite strong scientific evidence from England that a cull does work. No-one is saying we must get rid of all badgers but the numbers must be controlled in order to bring bTB in the national herd to an end. The distress and emotional strain put on farmers by the bTB is massive. On a more cheerful note, spring is beginning to appear and we have daffodils appearing everywhere and despite the endless rain they do brighten everything up.

Monday 5 February 2024

Diolch yn fawr, Mary!

I am writing this to express my thanks to Mary of Windy Meadows Farm (windymeadowsfarm.blogspot.com) who so kindly reads my efforts and sends me lovely responses to which, due to a technological ineptitude on my part I am unable to reply (also I think Blogspot has something to do with it!). Mary, thank you for taking the time to comment on my posts, it means a lot. I guess our lives, while so many miles apart on different continents and in different cultures, are similar in lots of ways in that we both love family life on the farm and enjoying the seasonal round of the countryside. Farmers all over the world share so many common experiences and it is always fascinatiing to hear about the trials and tribulations, and of course the joys, familiar to us all. Diolch yn fawr! As you may realise I live in 'Welsh Wales', in this part of Wales particularly, Welsh is the first language and though I am not Welsh-speaking myself (despite having lived in Wales all my life and being taught the language at school!)I can get the gist of what is being said in a conversation though cannot join in, which is a great flaw in myself. The Farmer is fluent and both the Sons speak Welsh as & when they need to. The grandchildren go to 'Category A' schools which means they are taught through the medium of Welsh with English being a second language. If children are taught languages from an early age they master them effortlessly and so many children in Wales are bi-lingual from the start. Welsh is an ancient language possibly dating back about 4.000 years with its current form appearing between 400 and 700AD with the earliest written poetry in Welsh. It is one of the oldest languages in Europe and survives here in the far west, but only just. Just under 30% of the population speak the language and it survives in the agricultural heartlands though I know more Welsh is spoken in Cardiff now than when I was growing up there. In fact as a child I never heard Welsh spoken other than in my Welsh langauge classes in school. It was quite a surprise to me when I came to live in west Wales to realise that many people here conduct their whole lives speaking Welsh, using English but rarely. They are getting rarer now with the passage of time but there are still a few very old people who can remember being reprimanded for speaking Welsh in school as children. There was a move to eradicate the language starting hundreds of years ago. In 1536 Henry V111 pased an Act of Union prohibiting the use of Welsh in public administration and the legal system. However, the language managed to survive due in large part to the 1588 translation of the bible by one Rev.William Morgan until 19th century but during that era there were heavy-handed efforts to wipe it out including the 1870 Compulsory English Education Act in primary education. The continued anti-Welsh language onslaught went on in many forms until 1992 when the Welsh Language Bill gave equal status to Welsh with English in all spheres of life in Wales. There is a drive now get a million Welsh speakers by 2050.

Friday 2 February 2024

No Farmers, No Food! , Welsh Farmers Protest

NO FARMERS, NO FOOD! Wales is a country of proud farmers and over the past years our government has been steadily working towards our elimination. This situation has now come to a head with the proposed Sustainable Farming Scheme which although is is still in'consultation' mode is being presented to us as a near fait accompli. However, the farmers of Wales have now had enough and we are making a stand against the bullying tactics of the Senedd (the Welsh Government). Two days this week the Farmer I have attended meetings at which the anger and sorrow of the farming community has been made very clear. The first meeting, held locally, was a 'consultation' (that word again) in which we were given a presentation by three civil servants up from Cardiff explaining the new proposals. This is a very complicated issue and I am only able to give a very simplistic account of what is being felt and said.The meeting became very heated and there was lot of anger expressed. One topic that upsets everyone is the proposal that every farm in Wales has to have 10% tree cover. For us at Penyrallt that is not too much of a problem as we have many acres of woodland but for those farmers on the mountains or along the coast it almost impossible to grow trees to the required 3metres in height. The proposals seem to have been drawn up with 'one size fits all' attitude and just underlines how removed from the reality of the agriculture industry the government is. No account seems to have taken of the topography of Wales which ranges from lush fertile lowlands to steep harsh mountain & moorland to windswept coastline. The idea that every single farm in the country has to grow trees while taking 10% of the land out of food production is lunatic. I spoke to one farmer from Pembrokeshire who farms right on the coast and he was deeply worried about this as it is impossible for him to grow trees on his land and the effect of this inability would seriously impact his livlihood. The feeling in the room became increasingly angry and the frustration was palpable when it was clear that the civil servants were not actually listening to us though they assured us that they would report our views back to the minister in Cardiff. No notes were taken by them throughout the meeting. A number of attendees walked out in disgust. It seems this same scenario has been played out all over Wales at other 'consultation' meetings. As result a meeting was held last night up in mid-Wales by farmers to discuss what action we need to take to make the government listen. The Farmer & I made the near 3 hour drive up to Welshpool yesterday afternoon and joined the 1,100+ strong crowd to hear what had to be said. It was an amazing evening with so many farmers and non-farmer supporters gathered together. It was emotional at times as farmers expressed their fears that there will be no future for their families on the land (in many cases, as with us, it is many generations of farming expertise and knowledge under threat) and it was encouraging that there were so many young people at the meeting, many in their twenties & thirties who are passionate about their roles in agriculture. There was also much anger that our elected representatives have become so dictatorial and out of touch with the people who put them in a position of trust and repsonsibility under the illusion that they were concerned for the agricultural communities of Wales. There is to be another meeting in few days time nearer home which we shall go to and hopefully the Sons will accomapany us. An action plan is being drawn up and we shall do whatever is required. Much is said about how food can be imported therefore the need to have farmers in Wales is reduced...how can supposedly sensible, intelligent people even think that this is a realistic approach to feeding a nation? Buy Local is mantra that needs to be emphasised everywhere and as a leading Welsh farmer, Gareth Wyn Jones says 'You need a farmer three times a day!' >Dim Ffermwyr, Dim Bwyd! No Farmers, No Food!

Thursday 25 January 2024

Cottage refubishment finished!

After the excitment of two days of real hard frost, ice and snow we are now back to the normality of rain and more rain, bu the birds are singing so it not all gloom. The work on the holiday cottage is nearing completion, just fiddly little details to be done and then we are ready for the guests of 2024. At the moment the the first booking is at the end of March but one can hope that someone somewhere may like an early spring break before then. Whatever, the cottage is pristine and ready for whoever may turn up. The Farmer has worked very hard making the new kitchen and installing lights and a dishwasher and building new beds and generally doing A Great Job. The photos below do not really do it justice. The whole thing has been a bit like moving house with having had to pack up every single thing and put them into storage for two months and then of course everything has to be washed before being put back in place, so it has been a lot of work all round.

Thursday 18 January 2024

Winter Weather but Spring is on the Way

We have snow! It has been only a light fall but enough to excite the children and to send them off to the slopiest field with their toboggans. It has been three years since the last snow show so the delight when everyone woke up this morning to a gleaming white world was immense. A sprinkling like this is lovely...it does not disrupt the running of the farm other than a few frozen water pipes which soon thaw out once the sun moves round. In fact as I write the tap in my kitchen is starting to drip as the pipes to the house start to thaw so I will be able to wash up the breakfast dishes before too long! We have had cold weather for the past few days which is a blessed relief after the persistent rain of the last months but not cold enough to freeze pipes until now. Work on the holiday cottage is going well with the end in sight. My painter/decorator finished last week and I'm steadily getting the place sorted out and back to a livable space. It is looking lovely with its newly painted ceilings and fresh colour schemes. As soon as I have photographs I will post them up here. The whole process has been just like moving house again as of course everything had to be packed away, all the china, glass etc. and having new carpet laid, new beds and a new kitchen (courtesy of the Farmer!) but it is well worth the effort. Despite the wintry weather there are clear signs that spring is not too far away. Yesterday I found the first snowdrops in flower and daffodils are sending their sage-green shoots up everywhere and the crosuses on the lawns are promising a great display later on. On a jaunt down to Pembrokeshire at the beginning of the week we saw many daffodils already in flower - it is a much milder climate down there and things are usually well ahead of us here. The birds are starting to sing and I have already seen some of our summer-visiting mallards returning to one of the ponds from their winter quarters down on the river.
The Farmer is keeping busy processing firewood to build up the supply for next yearand even the year after. We have a lot of trees down with ash-dieback and when the trees are brought up to the timber yard they are processed into wood fit for planking to be made into furniture at a later date or what is fit only for firewood. Whether the wood is destined for carpentry or firewood it all needs to be well seasoned so we have sheds full of stacked planks well-sticked for even drying and other sheds full of mountains of logs alsoseasoning for the wood stoves. Burning green wood is a complete no-no so it is left for at least two years to ensure we get the most efficiently made heat from the logs.

Monday 1 January 2024

Happy New Year

Blwyddyn Newydd Hapus i Pawb. A Happy New Year to All. The first day of 2024 and it is Not Raining! Yes, once agin I am talking about the weather but after months of rain to be able to say we start the new year with a dry morning is cause for celebration. It is a relief to just be able to fetch logs from the shed across our yard without having to put on a coat, though I do still need to don wellies, but not to have a curtain of rain to dash through is wonderful! Christmas week has gone by with family gatherings and visits to & from friends & neighbours which has been lovely and shows that we do live in community that enjoys each others company although we do not meet up very often. On the farm the daily routines continue no matter what day is showing on the calendar and calves are being born increasing the feeding times as the numbers increase. We have had a cow develop milk fever, which does not happen too often, thank goodness, but a quick dose of calcium soon puts things right and the cow recovers well in just few hours. Having passed the Shortest Day or Winter Solstice just a week or so ago, amazingly the hens are starting to lay again...the smallest increase in daylight makes all the difference and it is good to have our own eggs again. As well a being New Year's Day it is also one of our younger grandchildren's birthday...Arthur is 3 today and we will go celebrate with all the family at tea-time this afternoon with cake and jollity and hopefully not too many upsets by over-excited small people!