Posted: Tue, 11 Mar 2014 13:07
At last……… In mid-January 2014 our new barn was finished and we had the very satisfying task of filling our completed "rooms" with golden barley straw and welcoming our two special herds!!
The barn is definitely 5 star, fully catered; all meals are provided by us!! Six sport horse yearlings in one large dormitory, Dusty and Dippy, three and four year old sport horses in their twin bedroom – Polly our grumpy and very independent broodmare in her own special single!!
All the horses can see each other, and in the middle area of the barn there is an ample wide and high space to store conservation meadow hay that we make. The Traditional Hereford beef are in their own semi next door, and are very lucky that they have their own patio!! – This is only part covered but is very sheltered and has a ring feeder from which they can picnic! It was lovely to get everyone with four legs in from the continual rain!!
The barn is amazing and it was only possible thanks to Cyril Hand who is in his seventies – he was up and down his ladders with the speed and skill of many half his age! He was aided by his own faithful workmen and our own special Neil and Paul and now Neil's twin brother Ian. The weather had been relentlessly wet, so it was a credit to them all that the building was finished.
It is with mixed emotions that the next part of the story is to unfold. Time waits for no man…… or beast, and cometh is the hour……. This stage was very carefully planned with much thought and compassion.
Having been fed on our own hay, grazed on our own meadows and purposefully left to grow and mature very slowly; on Tuesday 11th March; "Billy" our first beef animal, is being transported to Mr Callum Edge, about half an hours' drive away.
I visited the highly recommended and awarded, Mr Edge's premises at the beginning of March; a very small abattoir with a dedicated team. I was very impressed and relieved with what I saw. Only around three cattle and up to a dozen sheep are slaughtered each week, there is no noise or commotion. The abattoir is situated behind his butcher's shop, in between houses. Mr Edge is a sixth generation butcher from the same premises - I drove past twice when I was looking for him! The business was started in 1841, when cattle were driven off the Irish boats down the road to his front door. The Edge Empire has won RSPCA national abattoir awards for good practice in 2009 and 2012.
Billy will be left in layerage for up to three hours whilst he settles after his short journey. He is then dispatched with a pneumatic gun, no shouting or electric prods, no automated crushes. He is walked down a curved passageway into an enclosed area and expertly dealt with in a calm and dignified manner. There is a vet present throughout the whole process.
Breeding and rearing is only half the story. The "ending" is the bit that was troubling me. I had never visited inside an abattoir before and I was niggled by how Billy's life would be ended. He's had a happy free range life with his Mum at Bank Farm and deserves the best when his time comes. I was very impressed by Mr Edge and his set up. I will sleep better on Monday evening now I know Billy's schedule for Tuesday.
After the ending comes the Appendix!!! The point that it was all about….. Prime Traditional Hereford beef.
After discussing with Callum we decided that Billy should "hang" for a very credible four weeks. He is then delivered back to us in many different portion sizes!!
All cuts can be ordered and will be available from Tuesday 8th April. The meat will be fresh and ready in time for special Easter celebration meals. We have researched some great packaging so our meat can be efficiently posted out – a lovely change to flowers as a present!
Care and kindness has helped produce our beef. We are not going to solve any global food shortages but with conservation, time and welfare, as our strict guidelines, we will be rewarded with some sensational meat.
Interested in any of our special beef? Then please email your requirements direct and we will email some prices back. We'll be operating on a first come, first served basis. Our next animal will be ready fresh for the post early June! It's sad but exciting at the same time.
Love and best wishes,
P.S. If anyone has any great recipes using beef we'd love to know them – we've got a keen interest in faggots so please send tried and trusted suggestions through – none of Billy will be wasted!!