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August 2008 - Posts - View From The Other Side Of The Fence

View From The Other Side Of The Fence

Dreaming Of A Good Life


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    Diary Of Becoming A Farmer

    August 2008 - Posts


    Watching Sunday's "Countryfile" on BBC2, I viewed the piece about composting human waste with interest.  To me it was nothing new.  A couple of years ago I was privileged to go to "New Earth Solutions" Research and Development site in Poole, Dorset.  We saw the whole process.  I was fascinated by the fact that they take in a bin lorry which is filled with "Black Bag" refuse at one end and output compost at the other.  With just a little sorting, all mechanised, they could remove the non compostables, including the plastic bags, and turn it into rich compost in just six weeks.  This was in the final testing stages.  The other part of the site that we saw was human waste composting.  Which they were just starting trials for.  The whole day was fascinating and not a bit smelly.  So you see my interest was how the technology had progressed to perfect this.

    This picture is of refuse composting

    So, it was only talking to my father later that made me think about it a little more.  He was amazed at the vox pops, as they are known in the trade.  Members of the public were asked, "would they buy foods that had been fertilised with Bio-Solids compost."  The overwhelming answer was "Uuugghh."  But yet they are presumably happy to have their potatoes grown with lashings of horse manure! 

    According to the report on Countryfile, Tesco does not currently support Bio-Solids use on crops.  Some of the other supermarkets do.  I would have thought that the main problem would be the level of "drugs" both legal and illegal still remaining in the compost.

    It appears that the problem is not the technology here, it's back to the education of the population.  With the rising price of fertiliser and an ever increasing source of human waste there is an opportunity to perfect the techonolgy and we could all benefit.

    Being Inspired
    I started writing on this blog space after getting that farming itch again.  I had started reading the FW to try and learn some more about modern farming.  As you will have read from my previous blogs  "Getting Into Farming"  and Diary of Becoming a Farmer , I've found it difficult to retrain without dropping my family into poverty.


    Then FW started  "The Big Debate"  and I was inspired to write my thoughts on where Farming has been in the last 50 years and where it is going in the next 50 years.  That won me a sponsored place at the 2008 Oxford Farming Conference.  I found that fascinating.  There was some inspirational people there too.   They gave great talks about how they got to where they are today and more importantly why British Farming has a great future.  I also met some new friends.

    I then read a couple of books which increased not decreased my urges to become a farmer.  "Funny Farm" by Jackie Moffat a very funny look at chucking in a good life to up sticks and live "The Good Life."  And "The Farm" by Richard Benson.  A true and sad look at the demise of a small family farm with 200 years of family history.  This book proved to me that "you can take the man out of the farm, but you'll never take the farm out of the man."  Which is exactly how I feel.

    As an aside Jackie has another book out called "Sheepwrecked"  which if you liked "Funny Farm" you'll love this too.  I finished that on my Hols at a farm in Somerset earlier this year.  I must tell you about that too soon.

    I never thought anyone would be interested in my life and what I have to say.  

    Owd Fred's Blog made me glow just a little.  If anyone else feels inspired to write or blog as a result of reading this space, do let me know.  It's made me feel quite proud.  Keep reading his blog too, he has some great tales so far.

    But beware, this blogging malarchy is quite addictive...

    Diary Of Becoming a Farmer. A Realisation

    The Story of a young mans efforts to become a farmer without the aid of inheritance!

    After the events of the last six months, supporting each other we returned to work.  Both my wife and I immersed ourselves into our work to hide from the pain of the past.  It was unsurprising that it took a further two years before our next child was conceived.  We were assured as much as they could, that everything would be ok this time.  Even so worries continued that nature would be kinder this time.

    We had begun to pay more attention to the food we were eating and more importantly where it was coming from.

    I have always enjoyed cooking ever since I moved out from home and to London.  My mother would never let me into the kitchen when I lived at home.  She still struggles to keep me out, but now she doesn't always succeed.

    Consequently when I left home I had never cooked a meal.  However being an engineer I could follow instructions.  So armed with a chinese cookery book, given to me by my sister, I headed to London.  Thus started a love affair with food.

    I find it very satisfying to make something.  Anything, I'm just a show off.  It gives me great pride to say "I made that!"

    And so it was with food.  When I met the present good lady wife, I invited her back to my place for dinner.  So the chinese cook book came in very handy.  You know what they say about the way to a mans heart.  Guys, it works just as well with the ladies.  We both enjoy food and in particular trying different cuisine.  I find cooking both easy and a joy.

    Love them or loath them, I have to say that TV Chefs gave me the inspiration to try different styles of cooking and the confidence to use different techniques. 

    Chefs do, on the whole, promote British Food and Agriculture.  Rick Stein in particular with his food heroes series.  It did give me great ideas to look for specific produce.  Chefs want the best, freshest produce.  That's when it tastes the best.  Which invariably means local produce.

    I've never been one for ready meals.  I can generally knock something up faster than a microwave meal takes to cook.  I'm certainly faster than the local take-away by the time they deliver it. 

    I'm afraid though, Delia has lost her way recently.  I've got her original book, a thick tome, with every type of recipe imaginable.  Between that and Pru Leith's cookery bible I've learn't to make most things.  Delia's last series though was the equivalent of the "let's be avin ya" incident at Carrow Road, when she started ranting at all those poor Norwich City fans.  As if they hadn't enough to be sorry for.........

    What was the point of teaching people to cook [series] if you are going to say; "remember how we cooked those great tasting dishes, well forget all that.  Just crack open a tin of this highly processed food with heaps of preservatives, so it can sit in your cupboard for weeks.  It's also got your Recommeded Daily Allowance of salt to put back the flavour lost during processing."   It goes back to my previous blog in this series, about education being the key.

    Now look what you've done, you've got me ranting again.   Sorry I digress.

    During this pregnancy my wife had extra scans and tests at the hospital.  Everyone assured us that everything looked ok.  Still, that didn't stop nine months of worry.

    TB Badger Cull. MP's Should read this Blog more often.

    I picked up my copy of Farmers Weekly this morning to read that MP Jim Paice had told the Games Fair 2008 that:

    “I want everyone at the Game Fair with TB-infected badgers on their land to take photos of them,” he told delegates at a conference discussing agricultural policy.

    “There is nothing more repulsive than seeing a badger with TB. They suffer immensely.

    “If we can bring this to the public’s attention, we can change their minds about a badger cull.”

    He should read this blog more often.  I wrote exactly that in a blog on the 22nd June this year in a piece entitled " TB, Total Badgers or Total Bullocks."

    It just goes to show that once again FWi Space is ahead of the game.  So for the latest opinion before it becomes policy, keep reading these pages.  It's our industry lets make our voice heard.