So I was reading an article today in the German news about the reaons why German farmers were upset and on the streets demonstrating about changes in government policy. On further examination it seems that farmers are not necessarily angry about the policy changes; but more about the fact that they never seem to be consulted about policy change.
It is a strange industry to be in, Agriculture. Often farmers are considered by many to be poorly educated in the realms of business and the environment, or as being extremely wealthy privileged people who have mostly arrived at their workplace through inheritance. (I say this coming from a non farming townie childhood.) Farmers products are eaten or used by every person on the planet. Their methods of production effect every person on the planet. But in a bizarre twist of fate everything they do is controlled by people who have never been farmers, are not related to any farmers, may have little or no knowledge of the environment, and live often in cities or in very fancy houses in the country or both. There may be a little generalistion to my statements here for colour, but I suspect I am not too far from the truth.
To illustrate just one of many farmer problems.... "African Swine Fever", now present in Europe, has created a new level of health and safety regulations for pig farmers here in France, I can only refer to French regulations as I know they can differ slightly from country to country. We have been obliged to complete a days training with a trained governement vet, for which we get a certificate, or from another perspective a lost day at work. It included information regarding...
how much new fencing,
how high your new fence should be and how deep it should be buried,
what you need to fence,
how large your new electric fence equipment needs to be
which kind of pigs and other animals can go where on your property
how long your rotations need to be between animals
how many new clean sets of overalls and boots you need,
how to build your new facility for dead body collections,
how to clean your equipment
how many times you need to clean your equipment
how and what other people can enter your property and where they can park
how you should move and dress between each section of your pig facility
how to store and how long you can keep hay bales that will be only used for your pigs
how to drive your equipment between all the sections of your property
This list is lengthy and not complete but you get the idea. Now for all these changes that are imposed upon us by the government, who pays ? There is a grant system that you can apply for funding for up to 40% of the cost on some items.
To apply for a grant in France you have to get a quote, send the quote in to the local office, wait for acceptance, could be one or two months. Then you have to pay for all of the aterations yourself then you wait for a repayment which is about 4-6 months after the work is paid for. Our course was in December 2019. We have to make some of the changes by the end of January 2020. To give you an idea.... just to buy the electric box that powers the outdoor fencing is 650 euros.
Worm workings on ground used by grazing animals.
If your facility only has housed pigs I suspect many of the regulations may already be in place.If you have outdoor pigs then some of the requirements mean building things from scratch and changing your pig rearing system entirely, as reproducing pigs have different fencing requirements from young pigs. Consequently of the course that Gavin sat through of 13 people, 4 would give up pigs as the protocols and changes in system made it too expensive to carry on.
The first recorded case was in Portugal in 1985, it was controlled. It is not in this area of Europe yet.,but we still have to invest the money, just in case.
One of the more amusing changes was having to ring fence our hay barn to stop any other animals coming in. I wondered where we could hang the signs for the birds and flying animals to inform them they were entering a "No Fly Zone".
See you all soon
Hello lovely people
I have high hopes for the year of the rat as according to my brief research it stands for intelligence, something that seems to be lacking worldwide, and an ability to adapt to outside forces. So come on people lets get our act together this year shall we?
My short retreat into a hermits life has been relaxing, rejuvenating and re-energising. Ok, I know, not many hermits have sparkly wine to hand. But what is a girl to do....
Having our 3 plus 1 children around for a whole 2 weeks has been excellent for thinking about new ideas how the next steps with our little business and what possibilities the future could hold for us and also for them. I will have to release most of them back into the wild from our little bubble. And then continue with the innovation and activities with Gavin. Luckily the days are already longer and there is always some warmth when the sun comes out. Though not enough to let the home fires go out.
I tried to remember to take photographs of food when we sat down to eat but it appears i just have a plethora of photos of empty plates. We ate well. We usually eat well except yesterday when I ran out of enthusiasm and sent Koen to forage for 3 packs of sausages. The sweet, deluded boy said that he did not think they would all fit in the roasting pan. After one of my special eyebrow raises he said "you mean I should just squidge 'em all up and chuck 'em in, don't ya?" great knowledge of the english language for a non native speaker, I thought. So we had sausages and whatever you wanted to eat from the fridge/larder/cupboard, for lunch.
My creative contribution for the day was making butternut chutney based on a recipe given to me by some clients. I say based as I was missing some ingredients, so made it up with similar things. It is delicious with sausages. I felt quite decadent as I used a lemon from our own tree to season the chutney. In Zimbabwe we always had lemons on the tree in the garden and it is such a luxury to be able to do it here. One day we will have a glass room for our lemon trees, as it can be a real nuisance hauling them in and out to avoid the frost, which we did have the other day. Emily made mince pies.
I also watched the news yesterday. A mistake, it always makes me want to cry. So now I have to try to improve my own knowledge and my own practices to make my piece of world a better place and hope that it may spill over the edges a little and that others will pick up the baton and so on.
Next week it is back to proper work for me. Starting with the first market on Friday 10th.
See you very soon
I am farming sheep and goats on the Dordogne/Gironde border with my husband and our 3 children. We have an on farm butchery and sell our meat direct to the public via the markets and delivery points in our local area