Hugh and Pippa Stables run Wandering Ewe Dairy in North Somerset. They produce a hard, unpasteurised, ewes’ milk cheese from their own flock of sheep. 2022 was their fourth year of commercial cheese production. This is the last of 12 monthly blogs, which are intended to give a flavour of the year.
A year has flown by and it is time for me to sign off. We have weathered a drought and now, after a big week sorting sheep, the rams (pictured) and ewes are re-united. The cycle begins again.
So what does the future hold for us in this corner of the West Country?
We are in times of significant uncertainty. There are greater international tensions than there have been for decades. The dark spectre of climate change hangs over us all. National agricultural policy is confused. The land sparing / land sharing debate rages. Journalists and vested interests all propose and promote different solutions. Greenwashing is rife.
Amongst all the noise, there have been two publications this year that point the way for the future of agriculture in this country, and for our small enterprise here. The Sustainable Food Trust report “Feeding Britain” and the recently published “Sixty Harvests Left” by Philip Lymbery, CEO of Compassion in World Farming, map out a future where the reduced meat and dairy we eat comes from grass fed animals. The authors of these works have long histories and experience in sustainable farming and animal welfare. They recognise the important part that animals play in soil fertility building and producing protein dense food on marginal land. They also see the critical role that small mixed farms play in food resilience. Their proposals will allow us to live within planetary boundaries. We were particularly struck with Philip Lymbery’s assertion that we will look back on factory farming and, like slavery, wonder how we could ever allow such a thing to happen. In our judgement what they say makes sense.
So our path is clear. A greater push towards the highest provenance raw milk natural cheeses, together with lamb/mutton and pork. This continues a trajectory we have been following for a number of years. We know we still have a long way to go and a lot to learn. But we have just certified with A Greener World (Animal Welfare Approved, Grassfed and Non-GMO) and we are in the process of certifying Pasture for Life. It is simple really – more slow food.
Hugh and Pippa Stables
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