Farmer Focus: A butcher is not just for Christmas

Christmas for our family starts in the first week of September with the arrival of the Christmas turkeys.

The whole family joins in unloading them and they then become a constant feature, wandering in the woods around the shop.

The shop and online business are unbelievably busy from October onwards, with Christmas orders and turkeys being sent all over the country.

While turkeys and all the trimmings are our biggest seller at Christmas, we also sell a huge amount of our Aberdeen Angus beef.

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Christmas is when all the older kids will help in the shop and, apart from the very stressed owner (me), it’s a lovely time when everyone works hard and works together. But we also have a laugh and joke with each other, our full-time staff and customers.

While we are very grateful for our very loyal Christmas customers, it is very depressing that we see many of them only at this time of year.

Last year, I put a poster up in the shop that said: “A butcher is not just for Christmas”, which everyone smiled and laughed at…

At this time of year, the shop is our main focus, with very little time for anything else on the farm except the daily duties.

Having eight kids, you can imagine our house on Christmas day is a pretty excited place. This year, we have the extra bonus of having our first grandchild for his first Christmas.

Michelle will have spent months making sure that Santa gets all the right presents for everyone and that they are all wrapped perfectly.

As she says, it’s as big a surprise for their father as it is for the kids when they open their presents.

I love cooking Christmas dinner and after the presents are opened, the turkey will go in the oven and I set off to move the electric fences in the kale. 

We have lots of family traditions at this time of year, such as our annual big family day in Glasgow to see the lights, the family Christmas photo of us all in our new Christmas pyjamas, plus lots more.

Happy Christmas.

Michael Shannon finishes 150 head of mostly Angus beef stores each year and runs 280 Scotch Mules on a 100ha forage-only enterprise, as well as free-range turkeys for Christmas, near Biggar, Lanarkshire. Meat is sold through his online business and farm shop Damn Delicious, with surpluses sold deadweight.