Search:  options
Farming lives, past and present

Farmers   Workshop  Photo-diaries   About   Contact

You are here:
Home > Farmers > Interview Jane Bowler

Interview with Jane Bowler, farmer




Interview date: 28 May 2002

Interview location: Dews Meadow Farm, East Hanney, Oxfordshire. OX12 0HP.

Interviewee: Jane Bowler

Interviewer: Andrew Wood

Transcript key: AW: Andrew Wood; JB: Jane Bowler




2.0.           AW: Can you hear it starting up


2.1.           JB: I can just, yeah


2.2.           AW: Okay, itís umm, Tuesday 28th May, Iím at Dews Meadow Farm, with Jane Bowler and this is Andrew Wood interviewing, Jane, umm, how would you introduce yourself, if I asked you to introduce yourself how would you err, what would you say


2.3.           JB: Well, I, I would just err, describe my self as a farmer, umm, producing umm, goods from a farm really, I suppose, you know, farmer marketing our own produce, umm, thatís probably


2.4.           AW: Do, do you err, say, do you say youíre a pig farmer or a livestock farmer


2.5.           JB: Pig farmer, yeah, pig farmer yeah


2.6.           AW: Yeah, how did you get into farming, how did you start


2.7.           JB: Well, I grow up in farming, but then left the industry and did all the other things, umm, and then, my husband who, err, studied at Butchers Green and had done farm management, he was managing a farm and then he, err, was made redundant and went into feed, animals feed, selling animal feed and then umm, he, weíd decided that we would like to have our own farm, and we started in 1979, thatís really how we started this era weíre in now


2.8.           AW: So was your, Iím just going to move this microphone slightly closer


2.9.           JB: Yeah, probably started whispering


2.10.       AW: Well no, Iíll tell you what it is, because thereís a bit of road noise


2.11.       JB: Right


2.12.       AW: But itís picking it up quite well, umm, so, weíre you, was your father doing any farming at all when


2.13.       JB: Yeah, I donít think he could ever give it up really, I think if you look around and you see an awful lot of people, if theyíve once been in farming then they never really seem to be able to leave it very well, and although heíd sold the majority of the land, he always kept a few cattle and umm, probably about five or so a year, so I was still, umm, we were still involved a little bit, you know, heíd have to go and feed the cattle at night and things like that, so we, I think weíve ever really been without any, I donít think thereís ever been a time, somebody hasnít had something to look after and feed

2.14.       AW: So would you say that, that, was your fathers main business, farming


2.15.       JB: It was originally, yes, yeah, until, until he sold the, the farm, in about 1968


2.16.       AW: And err how old would you, were you when he sold the farm


2.17.       JB: Err, about seventeen


2.18.       AW: So, you had, you'd grown up on a farm had you


2.19.       JB: Yes, yeah, yes, it was milking, we were dairy milking


2.20.       AW: Did you, take any part, in that


2.21.       JB: Yup, I left school to milk the cows


2.22.       AW: At what age did you leave school


2.23.       JB: Fifteen, and I really, I loved it, I mean really used to up there, the dairy was, you know, my pristine, um, but err, then it meant spending thousands of pounds on a new dairy parlour and we were only a small farm, and my brother couldn't do the farming for medical reasons so dad sort of thought, oh well, you know, Jane will be off and married, you know, daughters it does tend to be a bit like that, you know


2.24.       AW: Was it a family farm, did you father employ anyone to work with him on the farm


2.25.       JB: Well that was part of it really, if you, if you're a family farm and you're small, unless you've got someone working, you're working seven days a week, fifty two weeks of the year, so it was either get bigger, so you could employee people, or carry on, you know, sort of struggling on, and, you really then, had to have a house, if you'd got, especially if you were milking, you had to have a house for whoever it was, you know, to, to work, supply a house to get a good, umm, a good person to work for you,


2.26.       AW: And umm, did your father, besides keeping the dairy, did he grow any other crops or keep other livestock


2.27.       JB: Yes, we used to grow barley, and wheat and umm, lucerne and strip graze the cattle, you know, the dairy cattle, clover fields, you know, because it was quite a, quite a lot of it was grass but, you know, youíd have a job to remember


2.28.       AW: Yeah,


2.29.       JB: The exact acreage


2.30.       AW: Do you remember hay making


2.31.       JB: Oh yes, yeah, and combining, and you know, things breaking down, and, everybody running off, mum used to help, everybody helped at harvest time and all our friends, used to come down in the holidays and that was, part of, part of life, really was a, a, umm, time when everybody helped and everybody had good fun, and dad used to take use all to St Giles fare and all our friends and everything


2.32.       AW: Thatís in Oxford, yeah


2.33.       JB: Yeah, yeah, we used to do that


2.34.       AW: And, and you, so your fathers farm, was that, was that, close where we are now


2.35.       JB: Yes, this field where weíve built the bungalow now, and where weíre got the pig, err, farm, that was like the nursery field, they were in here, err, and the problem was, the land was that side, the other side of this main road, and so you had to bring the cattle across the main road, so that was really the major reason he stopped, was because


2.36.       AW: Itís quite a busy road now


2.37.       JB: Yeah


2.38.       AW: Was it like that then


2.39.       JB: It was, it was not quite as bad as it is now, but it was still very busy, and we used to have, one of the problems was, you get people waiting, hmm, you get people queuing up, on the road, while the cattle were coming down, and it wasnít, the gates werenít completely opposite, they were, just up the road a hundred yards, and then if youíd got a, big cow heavily in calf, it would just get a bump or somebody knock it, and a bit impatient, things like that, and so it really meant, that we either had to build a big new parlour across the road and stop bringing them across the road or umm, you know, that was the option really, and err, I donít think farming was in too good of a state in í67 it was, Ď67


2.40.       AW: What sort of size was the farm then


2.41.       JB: It was a hundred, about a hundred and fifty acres, and it was just at that point where everybody was getting quite a lot bigger, or most people were, and I think the dairy prices were difficult you know, even then, itís, umm, I mean, there was, you know, the Milk Marketing Board and all that then of course, but


2.42.       AW: So financially it was, it was, it was difficult


2.43.       JB: It was, yeah, especially if you were going to invest, a lot of money into it, itís, you know, like any business, I think, you know


2.44.       AW: and was that, that was needed was it

2.45.       JB: That was needed to build, you know, really to stop us having to come across the main road, as much as anything


2.46.       AW: Was that about, was that because of new machinery that was coming in at that time, or new practices


2.47.       JB: Not so much new, weíd got everything, this side of the road and, and quite modern really, but err, the other thing was of course the milk churning, we were on milk churns then, and everybody, so it was new practices and new machinery really, because, the, everybody was going into bulk tanks, so this was the whole scenario, was you had to change your system really, umm


2.48.       AW: And you think your father, didnít want to do that


2.49.       JB: Not, no, no, I think he just thought, it was an awful lot of money to invest, at that, that amount of money at that time


2.50.       AW: And what did he do when he, when he left farming and he sold the farm


2.51.       JB: Well, heíd already got a coal business anyway, and umm


2.52.       AW: He was a coal merchant was he


2.53.       JB: Yes, he was a coal merchant, as well, and he used to do, light haulage as well, with, because heíd got the coal lorry, so there, it worked quite well because when the farm was, busy in the summer, no body wanted any coal, and in the winter, when the coal was busy, the farm, it was a fairly quite time on the farm, as far as the umm, so we did always actually have people working for us, but they were, had to be multi-talented really, you know, they had to be prepared to do a bit of everything, so the, the two things, really worked quite well together as, as far as, that went, and at that point, you know, decided that, the coal business would carry on, earning, umm, err, a good business if you like, and the dairy side, and the farm side, would have meant investing a lot of money, on an unknown sort of, where were you going really, so, that was when the farm was sold


2.54.       AW: So he sold the land but did he keep the house


2.55.       JB: Yeah


2.56.       AW: The farmhouse, was that right


2.57.       JB: Kept the house and the, umm, would have been about, sixteen acres I suppose, no, perhaps not as much as that, about ten, twelve acres, you know, just round the house, and in fact, rented field, and he still kept some cattle, he could never give a, give it up, so he still kept, umm, an, a cow and breed cows from it, and


2.58.       AW: So were, were those umm, were there, were there, those cows, they were milked by machinery, or


2.59.       JB: Yeah, the cows were, yeah, oh yeah, we had, you know, fairly good, in churn system, it was, it was fairly modern then, if you like, but as just that everybody was changing to go, from churns to bulk tanks, around then, so that was the big, the big difference really, yes, I suppose, that would have warranted a lot of money, so


2.60.       AW: So, did, how, how about your, how about your experience in farming, did you, I mean you keep pigs now, umm, did you keep pigs at first, or


2.61.       JB: Yes, we kept pigs, we kept, dad in fact then said, well, you know Iím getting feed up, you can look after the cattle, as you inheritance sort of thing, one cow and something, it was always a bit of a joke, but, so, Andy and I had the cattle and, umm, as well as the pigs, umm, and itís only recently that we havenít had cattle because, the field weíre actually in, belonged to my dad, and thatís were the cattle were, and err, the whole field needed re-fencing, and, we couldnít really afford to fence the field because it didnít belong to us, I mean it sounds, but we just couldnít, youíre talking about quite a lot of money to re-fence it, and so umm, and busy, we were also getting more busy with the shop and everything else, and err, so we were selling other peopleís beef, local beef, weíd do that, we source it


2.62.       AW: So after the farm, sold most of the land, then you were renting some of the land to keep cattle, is that right


2.63.       JB: Yeah, Dad used to rent some, he even rented some in Oxford at one point, because he just couldnít, heíd give up, and heíd send the cattle off, the beef cattle, then heíd go off to market, and come back, and mum would say, oh, you know, you could never really stop, and because heíd got a bit of ground, he always would err, you know, so really we always had animals about, you know, umm, then one of the fields, that we rented, umm, it was all part, I thing it belenged, belonged to Oxfordshire County Council, I think, and it was actually in my grand fathers name, and err, so, it, it had to all be, it was all sold off to umm, with another part of, down the village with another farm


2.64.       AW: Right


2.65.       JB: So we lost that field and weíd only got this one, so we just kept, one or two after that really


2.66.       AW: So you pretty much, been, umm err, with pigs for, since you started farming, really


2.67.       JB: Yeah, thereís a photograph at my dads with me when I was about two, bottle feeding a, a little piglet, and I keep meaning to bring it up and put it in the shop, you know, just as a point of interest really, but, so weíve always, but dad used to just have, like, a sow and, a couple of pigs, you know, not, not, it was a mixed farm, it was dairy but also err, some beef cattle, and you know, it was, a real old fashioned mixed farm, the turkey that used to chase you, I think there was a reason for that when I was very small, ha, ha


2.68.       AW: So has, has, farming changed much since youíve been doing it, I mean in your personal experience


2.69.       JB: Oh yes tremendously, I mean, yeah, itís, itís completely different now, I mean even if you, even when our children were growing up, err, whereas we were quite involved in the farm, they couldnít be because you had to, you had to really be doing things in much more numbers to make it viable, so it wasnít things that, you know, the setting wasnít just walking down the yard, you know, it, it, it had to be umm, enough of whatever you had, whether it was pigs or chickens, you had to have enough to make it a viable living, and you had to do it, really, I suppose the dairy was in those days, but it, itís just different, itís a job to describe it really, but


2.70.       AW: So the number of animals you have to keep, is greater now is it


2.71.       JB: Yes, well, it, it is


2.72.       AW: To be viable


2.73.       JB: Yes, yup, and I think that was probably starting in the Ď60s really, that was the beginning of it, when, when my dad gave up, for that very reason, because you had to have more acres, you had to, so that was probably when things started to change


2.74.       AW: And has it changed much in how the pigs are kept and what pigs you keep, have those things changed


2.75.       JB: Well the have to a degree because, when, when Andy was working for the people and managing other farms, or just working on other farms, he, they were mainly intensive, umm, and that was the thing, in the Ď70s particularly, it was intensive farming this is the way to go, youíve got to produce as much meat on as little space as possible, the cost of lan, land is, horrendous, and everybody was, you know it was how many pigs you could fit in a building, etc. and things like that, but we, when we started our farm we didnít ever do it like that, we still had a marriage of, the old fashion farming, and the modern pig, if you like, and the idea was to keep them on straw, so that they were, umm, healthy and, err, a reasonable, umm


2.76.       AW: So, what theyíd be kept inside


2.77.       JB: They were inside


2.78.       AW: Or in pens, or


2.79.       JB: Yeah, theyíre inside in pens but they always had, straw and plenty of room to sort of, and pigs love to


2.80.       AW: Yeah


2.81.       JB: root about, even if itís straw and theyíre outside, then theyíre digging up the ground, and if theyíre inside then they, you know, you can put fresh straw in, and they, they like it, so you can keep pigs inside quite well, providing theyíre got, you know, something nice to lie on, and so, maybe that was some of the reason, umm, it was difficult for us, because without a farm, was because there was so much manual labour, because your mucking out, and weíre mucking, and, we, the guys are out there mucking out today, so we employee umm, a, a friend of ours works, sort of, part time, because weíre so busy in the shop now, and, he comes down and weíre got a tractor and, err, we keep, but you know, once they come in up here, they, theyíre


2.82.       AW: Right


2.83.       JB: But itís manual labour


2.84.       AW: Sorry, let me just ask you, that, that person who helps to muck out, etc, thatís in addition to the


2.85.       JB: Yes


2.86.       AW: The couple of other


2.87.       JB: Yup


2.88.       AW: Full time people


2.89.       JB: Yup, yup


2.90.       AW: Including your son, whoís one, of those, and, err, the butcher


2.91.       JB: Yes, yeah, Ian has, we used to, Andy and I used to do it all ourselves, between us, you know, weíd, heíd go out and do the pigs and what have you, umm, but now, weíre just, weíre too busy really, Andyís curing bacon nearly all the time, thatís without heís not on the list, and heís full time, really, managing going


2.92.       AW: Thatís your husband, Andy


2.93.       JB: Yes, yes, sorry


2.94.       AW: So really thereís three of you isnít there, sorry, thereís three full timers, thereís yourself, your husband, thereís your son, thereís


2.95.       JB: I suppose


2.96.       AW: Thereís the butcher


2.97.       JB: Ianís


2.98.       AW: Then thereís another part timer, who does, does the mucking out


2.99.       JB: Yeah


2.100.  AW: and looks after the pigs


2.101.  JB: Yeah


2.102.  AW: Is that right, do you think thatís the total


2.103.  JB: Thereís my husband, whoís full-time, sort of managing, the, the general management of, how many pigs weíre going to take to the abattoir, how many pigs are, you know, ready and when theyíre ready and, what size they need to be for the bacon, and that side of it, and err then, so heís sort of oversees the farm and the shop management of quantities, and then thereís the butcher full time in the shop, my son, full time and he does the shop, umm, sort of all marketing bits, and the farmerís markets, because that was, that was when he joined us, was, just about when the foot and mouth, just arranged to come and work for us


2.104.  AW: Do you remember the foot and mouth in the Ď60s


2.105.  JB: I do, yes, we were dairy farming then, yeah, and in fact my brother was a Abingdon College, doing a course, and he had to give it up, because of course, you know, you just didnít go anywhere, you just stopped, and we had all the straw on the drive with all the churns of disinfectant, and you know, yet, we didnít get it then and they had it quite locally, it was quite local, but it was very, very contained in this area, if somebody thought they had it, it was done and dusted within a day, I think it was only about a mile away from here


2.106.  AW: Has, have things changed, with the keeping the pigs, is there, umm, err, a lot more, err, expertise in terms of like, vets, you know, cereal growers they have, have agronomists now, maybe


2.107.  JB: Oh right


2.108.  AW: once that was an expertise that the farmer used to have


2.109.  JB: Yeah, yeah


2.110.  AW: umm, do you thing things have changed in a kind-of similar way for, for you as a pig farmer


2.111.  JB: I think, they have, but itís the animal husbandry thatís absolutely important, that is the most important thing, perhaps itís, I donít thing itís changed so much, as because, most people, are having to do more of a, whatever theyíre doing, whether it was pigs, or cattle, theyíre having to do, more of it, produce more, so that persons got to be able to pick up on things and stockmanship is absolutely, so theyíre probably in there, in their field, theyíve got more knowledge, than having to know lots of things about, lots of subjects, or lots of parts of farming, and I think thatís really where the big change was really, instead of somebody being a mixed farm and knowing a little bit about everything, how to mend their combine, how to fix the, the milking machine and the cow had got a bad foot or mastits or whatever, people will have had, and I think that go, thatís happened in every industry hasnít it, and I donít think, so it has changed, but so has every other industry, and youíve got to change with it, havenít you


2.112.  AW: Youíve obviously picked up a lot of expertise in your years as a pig farmer, how, how about the person you employed, did you employ them, because theyíd been to agricultural college or, or, what


2.113.  JB: Well Ian, umm, how helps us on the farm, he, he grow up in farming as well, and they had a small farm down the end of the village, and umm, I, and then, his dad died, and it was rented and again, there wasnít, if you were small there wasnít the money in it, and so he does, sort of, contracting and thatís how change, thatís how he works for several different people, umm, and err, where the only pig farmer he works for, in fact the feed company that heíll deliver for them or, you know, things like that, and people, well, youíve had to diverse really havenít you, if your not farming, but because he grow up in farming, heís very good, his stockman knowledge, is, is good, and thatís what youíve got to have, you know, youíve got to have somebody, we were hoping Tim, our youngest might


2.114.  AW: Can I just stop you there, you might want to have a slip of your tea, but the other thing is this table creaks quite a bit when its, ha, ha, when, when itís lent on, so, it, it would be


2.115.  JB: A good idea not to lean on the table


2.116.  AW: Yeah, ha, ha


2.117.  JB: Okay


2.118.  AW: But I mean, do rest you arms on it, or whatever, donít feel you canít do that, umm


2.119.  JB: Oh, I donít need to


2.120.  AW: The next question, Iím going to ask you about, umm, err, feed and err, where that comes from, a bit later and also umm, where you sell your pigs, and where they go to, err, to the abattoir, etc, err, a bit later, so that might be something thatís changed a bit


2.121.  JB: Right


2.122.  AW: Err, umm, no, let me ask you that now actually, has that changed over the years


2.123.  JB: The


2.124.  AW: Well, the feed where you get it from, what you feed the pigs, and err, where the pigs go for slaughter, the abattoir, etc, umm, maybe they used to be slaughtered on the farm, I donít know


2.125.  JB: Yeah, no, umm, well, lost my train of thoughts gone completely now, thinking about all three thinks at once, umm, the feed was Andy, my husband, worked for, err, Vito-mealo Animal Feeds So he learnt all about the feed compounds, and what was in it, and everything else, like that, so thatís always been very helpful to us, and whereas when, when we started in 1979 the pig feed used to just come in, and you feed the pigs, that was the end of the that, you, err, but you do rely upon your feed representative, who ever you get it from, umm and they say oh you know, howís your growth rates doing, when your producing pigs for Waitrose or for a, shouldnít say a name of someone, but when youíre producing for large companies, or large abattoirs, umm, which most people do, and then theyíre off and then the abattoir will sell them to whoever, individual shops or, umm, you know, youíre looking, youíve got to grow your pigs, as quickly as possible, so, in order for it to be a profitable business, umm, and thatís how our pigs used to go off like that, and then we, we decided that we would, change that, and sell more locally, and that would have been in about 1984, and err, we


2.126.  AW: And why did you decide to do that


2.127.  JB: Well, one, we felt, we felt, we were specialising anyway, because we were keeping, our pigs, on straw and, the, it was costing us probably more to produce than the way we were producing them, than if theyíre on slats, and you know, things were just going in and coming out, you know, job to describe it really, but umm, basically there was no, didnít matter how well you did, your pigs, you couldnít make any money, you were loosing money, so you could put as much


2.128.  AW: And that was back in 1980


2.129.  JB: Yeah, that was in about, umm, í80, err, í84 that would have been, sorry, about í84, and we, we were selling, forty or fifty pigs every week and it didnít matter how well you did it, Andy used to be on the umm, Meat and Livestock computer and you filled all everything in, and how many, how much food they had, how many pigs, what weight they were when they went, how many weeks they were, you, everything, umm


2.130.  AW: Who was that kept by, that computer


2.131.  JB: That was kept by the Meat and Livestock Commission, MLC, always say it MLC, if I say MLC no body knows what Iím talking about and they did that and the chap used to come round and Andy kept all the records and it would say, you know, umm, right from conception, from the time you, your, sows were served, how may, missed to be pregnant, umm, and had to, were returns to the bore, so you kept, your detail was absolute, you know, youíd got all these figures, weíve still got them somewhere, and umm, when you looked at the figures, everything was, you were in, a good league, you were in, hmm, hmm, you were producing so many pigs per year and so many weeks and so much food and yet even, having the best, producing as economically as you could, when you come to sell them you werenít, in í84 there was probably a big down turn in the market, and that was just when we were ready to sell our, first fatteners, before that weíd been selling weaners, and err, thatís really, what made us change everything we did, because you could be the best and yet, you were still, loosing money, and serious money, every pig then, I think that went, walked up onto the trailer was loosing at least five pounds, so


2.132.  AW: What caused the down turn in the market


2.133.  JB: Well, thatís the problem with pigs, I donít really know what does turn it, imports possibly, or probably, umm, because we still actually produce err, eat more pork than umm, than is produced in England, and yet half of it is coming in from abroad, and err, when you, thereís no subsidy or anything like that with pigs, which, I, I donít have a problem with provided you get a fair price for it, if it was any other business, I think subsidies are a bit of a crutch really, because you donít know, how well anything is working, umm, so that was really, when we, we had to sell everything to survive at that point


2.134.  AW: So in í84, the market was err, poor and umm, it that umm, when things like Danish Bacon or that, they started coming, do you think, into this country


2.135.  JB: I think


2.136.  AW: Or was it, was that before


2.137.  JB: I think theyíd already started coming in, the, the problem too, was there was no marketing for British pork, although Meat and Livestock Commission, you know, supposedly do the marketing, umm, it just wasnít marketed, wasnít marketed, and youíd go, go to a shop, you didnít know if you were buying English, Danish, and nearly all the bacon was, err, Danish, you know, it really, just was, you go round the stores now and youíll see thereís more Dutch and Danish bacon than anything else


2.138.  AW: And even at that time in í84, it was like that was it


2.139.  JB: Oh, I think so, yeah, I think it was something that was, just, the Dutch are very good at their marketing, and you know, the Danish sizzle was well on itís way by then, but, weíve imported a lot of meat for many years, so, I think, you know, and so the pig price just goes up, and everybody thinks, oh good itís all going to be alright and then bang it goes back down again and you know, unfortunately, it was just for us, at that time, weíd just finished our pigs, so keeping them longer, obviously youíve got a very big feed bill, and so obviously when you come to pay those, those feed bills, if the pigs havenít fetched what they should have fetched, their true price, youíre loosing money, and at that point we, we, obviously weíve got to feed everything, so your going to get into debt, just to feed the animals youíve got, without actually


2.140.  AW: So at that time, what, what did you decide to do, in í84 when

2.141.  JB: So we decided, well we hadnít got a lot of choice, we, were loosing quite a bit of money and we ended up, we sold, sold the herd, I think weíd just finished paying for our new bulk bin, and umm


2.142.  AW: Thatís were the feed is kept, is it


2.143.  JB: Yes, yup, weíd just finished paying for that, because weíd got two big bulk bins, and I think it costs, about two thousand pounds, somebody offered me two hundred and forty, you know, and you thought, err, so we kept it, I think all we had left really was the tractor and the bulk bin, and three small children, so it was pretty, weíd just, just, built this bungalow, and umm, got a mortgage, as most, most people in the Country have, so we had all the normal trappings of a young married couple, and err, a business that was loosing, rather a lot of money, so my husband went out to work then, and just anything were he could earn, you know, mainly, delivering parcels in London, because, you know, people didnít like doing that much, and err, we had a lad helping us on the farm, helping me, until most of the stock had gone, and err, but this has got a farm tie on it, this bungalow, so we thought weíve got to carry on in agriculture even


2.144.  JB: What, what does that mean, farm tie


2.145.  AW: Weíll if you live in a, a, a place thatís built for the purpose of, being an agricultural holding, you really have, have to be, in full time agricultural work, in order to live, live in that house, so we thought weíve got to do something, still in agriculture, so, we just, umm, started buying a few weaners from another farmer, so thatís young weaner pigs and err, finishing them, umm, just fattening them up and finishing them, and thatís what we did, so that I was doing that with the children and one thing and another, and err, then we discovered that one of our children was allergic to antibiotics, and err, quite, umm, quite poorly with it, and then umm, we, we were just looking at I think, we had some pigs that we were looking and they werenít too well or something was wrong with them moving them and disturbed them, and err, the option is to, feed them more antibiotics to get them over what it was, then we looked at the animal feed, and I said well thereís not any antibiotics in that, and they said, well there is, thereís growth promoters, so youíre talking about the Ď80s, and not today, and err, so we spoke to the feed rep. and he said, oh well, itís only, you know, a growth enhancer, to make it grow quicker, keep the err, short of bugs in the tummy down to a certain level, so thatís all it is, and you know, but that actually just gave me food for thought, at that point I thought, oh do I really want this, and err, so we approached the feed company and said, had new stock in, cleared out, cleared everything out and we said, can we have the feed without any antibiotics in it, and they thought, you know, this womanís off her trolley, and so did many other people at the time, but I just, because Iíd grown up in farming, I did know, about stockmanship and I did know that we never used anything like that, so, and we were a straw farm, it wasnít as if, you know, the, the, umm, livestock was kept in nice surrounds, natural surroundings, although they were inside, so


2.146.  AW: And in the industry, at that time, most pigs were kept differently, were they


2.147.  JB: Well the majority of pigs were on, err, concrete, you know, slats, umm, and sadly thereís still a lot that are kept on, you know, inside on slats, and things like that, but in this country, weíve had to, give up, not that we personally have it, but some people had their sows in stalls, all the time, and err, or tethers as they, you know,  they have a strap round their tummy, and about, two, a few years ago, the time goes so fast, in this country it was deemed that it wasnít nice to keep the animals like that, and it was banned and everybody had to stop, so you, you know, itís a way of producing cheap meat, and if the consumerís saying, you know, weíre only going to pay for this, or the person thatís selling it, to the consumer is saying, weíre only going to pay you this for your pigs, as a farmer, if you wish to continue, and not go bankrupt, youíve got to try and produce your pigs, as quickly as possible, as cheaply as possible, and thatís what happened to the industry, and, umm, I mean now things have changed, and the Government, I think it came in, in the January  that, you know, you couldnít keep pigs in this country like that, and the British are very law abiding, you know, they just are, if itís the law, you donít do it, err and err, all the local farmers, you know, have changed their ways and their sows are alright, you drive around now and most of the sows are outdoors, whereas in the eighties, there were few farms, with pigs outdoors, and umm, yeah, thereís still meat that comes in to this country, thatís reared, on slats, sows tethered, Denmark have now made quite a few, umm, statements in the, in the press to say, you know, weíre not doing this, so donít say we are, sort of thing, things like that, but umm


2.148.  AW: So letís, letís just go back, youíre, you decided to buy feed that didnít have antibiotics in it, growth, growth promoters


2.149.  JB: Growth promoters, right


2.150.  AW: Umm, because of an allergy one of your children had


2.151.  JB: Yup


2.152.  AW: And when, when you say they had an allergy, that, that wasnít if they became ill, they, if they became ill they shouldnít be administered umm, antibiotics, but it was, the presence of the feed


2.153.  JB: Well no


2.154.  AW: Is that what you mean


2.155.  JB: it, it was on medication, it was only if he had medication, but some people are just a bit affected, but James was quite, quite badly affected, and umm, so it was, it was just, what, the train of thought that went on from that, and I thought, well, if we need antibiotics, you know, thereís lots of things that we do actually need antibiotics for, and we cannot, suddenly say, phew, weíre not going to have them any more, but you, you know, letís have them when we need them, but not have them, for, un, you know, the reasons we shouldnít have them, they shouldnít be in our pigs or anything else, because it, well there, if, if youíre giving your pigs or anything else, that , there, just, itís not a proven thing, I mean a lot of these things you do things some times through, itís instinct, itís not something, that, well, will we ever know whether our feeding an, umm, antibiotics to pigs or, you know, as a regular basis is a good thing, we donít know, but itís just if you donít know, then, and you donít need it, then why do it


2.156.  AW: So when you started changing over to err, feed that was free from growth promoters, umm, how, how, did that work financially for you, did you have to change the way you sold, your pigs, what


2.157.  JB: Yup, we almost, once weíd decided weíd, weíd sort of talked about it and said well, weíll do this, and the first thought was to put an advert in the local press saying, you know, this pigs, I think I had, took the little thing off Iím free, from err, youíre being, Are You Being Served, you know, where youíd, umm, and we even had it painted on a sign, but people thought we were madder than we really were, but err


2.158.  AW: So you put some adverts in the local press did you


2.159.  JB: Yeah, in the Oxford Mail, saying, this pig was, additive free pork, and err, we had one or two people ring up and order half a dozen belly slices and I thought, this isnít working, you know, what could we do, but, we, we, at that point we then, spoke to the local butchers and err, there was one, Mr Clark in, then, in Wantage and another chap at err, Sutton Courtney, and theyíre both retired now, and I went and saw them, and they said, weíll have one of the pigs killed Jane and weíll have a look at it, you know, and err, so, had one killed up at Newbury then, there was an abattoir, one actual abattoir in Newbury, and collected this pig because I didnít know, much about anything, you know, I knew what they were like running around, but I knew nothing at all about what a pig was going to be like when it was dead, and youíve got the liver and the lungs and all itís bits, and Iím thinking oh, and err, so that


2.160.  AW: So that was in the Ď80s was it


2.161.  JB: Yeah, that would have been í80, about í86, somewhere Iíve got the bits on it but, umm, and so the idea was, he said yup,  you know, I think, we could, this is good, and Mr Clark said, get a slap on your pigs, something that says Dews Meadow farm, and he was really quite helpful, because obviously I didnít know how, how to, so we had a, a butchers round, we had a trailer, had a trailer specially made, so that these pigs could, you could collect them at the abattoir, you could hang them up, you know, and so I started doing that, so the children were still quite young, Tim was about two, yup, and mum used to look after them while Iíd go off, sort of, take the pigs to the abattoir one day, come back, and then take, deliver them the next, go back to the abattoir the next day


2.162.  AW: So you were delivering directly to the butchers


2.163.  JB: Directly to the butchers, yup, and we, we had quite a few butchers at one time, and it just coincided that the price at that time of pork, was quite high, cause thatís how it goes, obviously, so many people had gone out of pigs in í84 so there was a little bit of a shortage of British pork, and err, we did, you know, we started to think, gosh, we, you know, this is going to work, weíre getting the money straight away, and, you know, it appeared anyway, but err, then, it, we did that for several years and err, it was quite successful but the biggest problem was, that the local butchers were having to cope with, supermarkets, so, in an, err now, if it was now, we were just a little bit before our time, if it was now, theyíd be okay, because theyíd be able to say well, you know, or two years ago even, a few years ago


2.164.  AW: Can I just stop you, who would you say your local butchers


2.165.  JB: Well, we had umm


2.166.  AW: Newbury, Wantage, Oxford


2.167.  JB: Yeah, Newbury, Wantage, Oxford, we used to do all those, right out to umm, to Headington, so it was quite around, you know, we did, we were doing Reading as well, there was one butcher in Reading we were supplying, umm, so Iíd have to do two runs sometimes, with this little trailer, you know, the Newbury and Reading run, and then back to the abattoir, and then it was really very, very good and umm, so Andy had some days and he would do the round because it was, I just wasnít getting home until seven oíclock and you know, just impossible really, so err, Andy worked part time doing that, and part time driving, you know, could fit those two things together quite well, anyway, then, err, it just really, the price went back down again and, less butchers, there were, retiring, and then we had one butcher that, and the Real Meat Company was up and running as well, it was about the same time as the Real Meat Company started, we started, I think maybe a couple of years in front of us, and they started doing the franchising, and of course, we only supplied pork, and if people wanted the additive free, additive free beef, additive free chickens, additive free lamb, and umm, one of the butchers we sold the most to, wanted all those products and he had to have a franchise with the Real Meat Company, which meant he couldnít buy from any other additive free source, so that was sort of, six pigs a week, or four pigs a week, something like that, lost and a couple more retired, and we thought this is, not going, itís, itís changing in the wrong direction, so, umm, that point we turned our garage into, started to, turn it into a shop, and one of the butchers we used to supply, he used to make sausages


2.168.  AW: On the farm here


2.169.  JB: Yup, on the farm here, he used to make the sausages for us, and thatís how we started really, and then umm, another chap used to cure the bacon for us, up at, Lambourne, then he just said, on day, Iím off to Australia or somewhere, because it was a very difficult time for people, you know that heíd got a butchers shop and a farm, this was the one

2.170.  AW: This was the late Ď80s was it


2.171.  JB: That err, yeah, yes, sort of, err, late, yeah, late Ď80s about Ď80s about í88 or something around there, and, yeah about, we did the, a good round for about two, two years, two, three years, and gradually, by 1990, it was obvious that weíd got to do the shop and sell it all direct because there were you know, just werenít the other small butchers around, cause, they, they really had the problem of competing, people were, well we can go to the supermarket and get it all, I mean we all, weíve seen it, weíve all seen it, the local green grocers closed, the local butchers closed, itís happened all around us, in Wantage there were, about four butchers, thereís one now, itís a very good butcher, thatís the reason heís probably survived, you know, but itís sad, because weíre loosing the infrastructure of our, well, most of itís gone now, because one, you havenít got a local abattoir and two, you havenít got a local butcher, and itís, I think probably we were lucky that we started doing what we did, you know, a few years ago


2.172.  AW: So has that Newbury abattoir closed now has it


2.173.  JB: So that one closed, and then there was another one, there was one in Newbury, that closed and we went to one at Thatcham, that closed and we went to one at Reading, then we found out there was one just down the road at Didcot, umm


2.174.  AW: How did you find out it was just down the road at Didcot


2.175.  JB: I think somebody just, oh havenít you been down to, you know, you know Cohens or something, and it was taken, I think it was an old, older man there, when we started, an older man there not looking for any extra work and then it was taken over by Cohen brothers and they wanted to umm, do more work, and I think somebody just said, oh didnít you know, you know, so we went there for a while and then it to one Christmas and I said oh, when, when, can I bring the pigs in and they said, oh, we wonít be able to do any for you that week, and I said what, you know, I need fresh pork for Christmas and err, and weíd been going there every week, you know, and so I rang Reading abattoir and that, and they said, oh yes thatís alright Mrs Bowler, you come up, you know, so we actually ended up, going all the way up to Reading, because youíve got, you canít, doesnít matter what business youíre in, youíve got, if you say to your customers, youíve got to produce it and itís got to be as good and the same, your quality, you canít just say, oh well, we didnít get any pigs killed this week, when people were coming to you for your joint or bacon, whatever, so, we had to find somebody that was, umm, would do the thing properly for us every week, so, then Reading closed, probably about seven years ago or something like that I would think, and umm, we know, go to John Styles at Bromham which seems an awful long way


2.176.  AW: Where aboutís is that


2.177.  JB: it is, itís forty miles, itís at umm, just at the other side of Colne, in Wiltshire, by Devizes, and err, we rang them up, in fact when we got to know them, when we were doing the butchers round because we used to deliver to the same butcher as they used to, and this chap said, cor they look some really nice pigs, we could use some nice pigs, if youíve got any extra, weíll buy them, and thatís how we come to, to use John Styles, and then, there wasnít Much Meats, Much Meats werenít at Witney, theyíre at Witney now, so is there is a local abattoir, but theyíre so busy, youíve got to book your pigs before you want them killed, and because weíve always been well looked after by Styles and they deliver them back to us the next day, because, weíre a bit old fashioned in that way, if somebodyís looked after us, then we just donít chop and change, I mean thatís how businesses used to be run didnít they, you had a certain amount of loyalty to, your customers or your suppliers, you didnít just change at a wimp, umm,  so, thatís were we still go to this day, and, we did go to Whitney during the foot and mouth, we had to, we do sometimes go to Whitney, but err, you know, itís not, because itís where weíve always gone


2.178.  AW: Whatís a typical working day for you, here, here on this farm


2.179.  JB: Well, umm, looking at the livestock first of all, thatís the first thing, Andyís up and checks everything out and sees what needs doing, or doesnít need doing


2.180.  AW: Thatís, thatís your husband


2.181.  JB: My husband


2.182.  AW: What sort of time do you think heíd start that


2.183.  JB: Heíd, he goes out there about seven oíclock, something like that, and umm, then just makes sure thereís nothing untoward, everything is alright and he, if there is a problem then he can ring Ian and speak to Ian, or if Andyís not here then Ian always comes as well, so that if somethingís happened, umm, you know, heís in everyday anyway


2.184.  AW: Ianís your farm worker, is that right


2.185.  JB: Ianís the chap who helps us on the farm, yeah, and then, from that point on, Andyís out to the shop, after breakfast and things, heís out to the shop and err, just looking at what needs to be done out there, the butcher comes at eight, so they sort of, decide the plan of action, if weíve got farmers markets or what needs to be done, umm


2.186.  AW: Umm, tell me about the farmers markets, when did you start doing that


2.187.  JB: From the very beginning in Oxfordshire, I went to the first meeting, I think, in Oxfordshire County Council, I saw the, that they, local food issues, and I thought, yes, you known, this is what we need, this is, where we should, what we should be doing, this


2.188.  AW: So that was, late nineties, mid nineties, err, about, umm, gosh, I canít remember the exact date now, umm, it must be late nineties it would have been because weíve been doing them about three years now I think, the farmers markets, must be three years, Thame was the first one, I went to this meeting and, my main concern was that weíd be allowed to keep our vehicles on site if they had refrigeration to keep things cold and things like that, and we had working groups, everybody at this meeting would talk and what could be done locally to, get the local food to the local people, and I just thought it was wonderful, I mean, now having dealt with people in the shop and people come in and they, theyíll say, oh, how did you produce this, or where were the pigs and you can put your hand on your heart and you can say, youíve done, you know, youíve done it, you know exactly, and youíve taken them to the abattoir, so if theyíve any misgivings about anything theyíre concerned about, you can tell them exactly, and


2.189.  AW: So all your sales are either directly through the shop, or through the farmers market, is that right, so direct to the customer


2.190.  JB: Yeah, the only thing we do, apart from that is, we supply a few small shops, the community shop in the village, Hendred Post Office and a local Kew Gardens, a local vegetable shop, and another farm shop, up at Hungerford, that weíve supplied for, since weíve started, more or less, theyíd have some sausages somewhere, and so, just come and said, um weíve had this, itís really good, can you supply us and we sort of thought, oh well yeah, so supply them


2.191.  AW: Do you think what people say to you affects, umm, the things that you sell, err and umm, err, the way you keep the pigs or, some other aspect of their


2.192.  JB: All of it really, I think it affects everything, firstly, it affects the way, hopefully, youíre doing what they want in the first place, the basics of, of, of looking after the animals, and then the rest of it, I think is consumer lead, the products of being consumer lead, because we were there, me and Andy with a couple of joints, and, you know, that the butcher had chopped up and some sausages, and people were saying canít you make bacon, and weíre going, err, you know, and itís been developed because people were saying, oh I remember was not like this, when it was old fashioned and you know, this bacon today is no good and all this sort of thing, so we developed the dry cured bacon, and we had a big article in í94, in the Pig Farmer, and the lady came out and looked at the farm and err, all the, you know, what we where doing and then, we make rusk free sausages, or gluten free sausages for coeliacs and people like that, the biggest problem we have, we donít have time to do as we should, youíre doing so many things, if youíd


2.193.  AW: So you donít have a typical day, by the sound of it, every day is different almost


2.194.  JB: Yeah, it is, and if youíve got a farmers market, you are, you know, youíre up sort of six oíclock, loading, well Andy always loads me up, I have to say, while I get the bits and pieces ready and we do tasters at the markets, so you take all your cooking equipment, and, itís like going camping really, just like going camping, but itís nice because people can taste it, before, theyíve never seen you before, and youíre there, on this, you  know, they can actually taste the bacon or see it  cooking without any white stuff coming out, umm, thatís the good thing about a farmers market, and you know, people, I used to like them coming here


2.195.  AW: Do you think theyíve changed the, umm, maybe umm, when the pigs are slaughtered or, or the feed that you give the pigs, or, do you think your customers have influenced how you keep the pigs, to that degree


2.196.  JB: I think probably, more so, that will change even more so, because everybody wants their pigs outside, now in Hanney this is typical Hanney whether, the early spring wasnít this year, but you, itís just took wet, you cannot keep livestock out, whether itís cattle, youíve got to get them in, umm,  in the winter and keep them in, because itís just, just, clay mud, so thatís why our pigs were always kept in, as opposed to out, no other reason, it probably would be cheaper to keep them outside than in, in a way


2.197.  AW: Do you think that would be a problem for you, if you had to keep them outside, or


2.198.  JB: It would in Hanney, thatís why we keep them, on straw inside, because now, this is a ridge and furrow field as well, so youíve got dips of, of, and err, but weíre, you know, looking to eventually have them outside and get some sandy soil somewhere else, thatís what our long term


2.199.  AW: And thatís a response to the public is it, your customers


2.200.  JB: I think so, and just to have more space really, yeah, yeah, so it is, youíve got to produce what people want, and do it the way, people want, because itís no good producing something that, you think they want, because itís a waste of time, so youíve got to be, consumer lead really, as well, and, and usually, it goes together with the way you want to do things, yourself, anyway, the two things marry together really


2.201.  AW: So letís, letís go back to your, your typical day, or untypical day, umm, your, your husband Ian, checks the pigs in the morning and


2.202.  JB: Sorry, Ian check, Andy check, my husband, then Ian, yup, they just sort of check the farm out


2.203.  AW: You decide what youíre going to do with the butcher


2.204.  JB: Yup


2.205.  AW: Err, and then err, the shop thatís opened


2.206.  JB: That opens at nine oíclock, so James is in for then, James is in there, theyíre up and ready to go, wand what they do in the shop is Andyís either curing bacon or making sausages, for whatever it is, either the shop orders, or farmers markets, and just the general sales in the shop


2.207.  AW: So do you, you yourself, umm, umm, look after the pigs or is that done by your farm worker, Ian


2.208.  JB: Well Ian, generally does, does that, and I float, no, I do the markets, the paper work, the general running, running and tearing about, you know, phone calls, they, they take the orders in the shop I donít answer the phone in here generally because nine times out of ten itís an order for the shop, or something like that, umm, I do a lot of farmers markets, we do, about, err, about eight, we did do two more, recently, but theyíre too far


2.209.  AW: Are those all in Oxfordshire


2.210.  JB: Yeah, except these last two, we did one at Ascot, and one at Princess Risborough but my feelings were, they were new markets and they wanted to get plenty of stall holders there, and they wanted to get lots of people there, to encourage, people to come, and there werenít err, local producers in that area, so we needed to get enough, but my feeling is, weíre loosing the, going too far, looses the feeling of the local food producer


2.211.  AW: And as I understand it the local markets make a requirement that all the food have to come, be produced within a certain


2.212.  JB: Thatís right, yes


2.213.  AW: distance of the market


2.214.  JB: Some are as low as twenty miles, some are thirty miles, but is does depend of course, if you, if you havenít got any producers in that area then, you know, like London or somewhere then youíre got to have people coming in from further a field, umm, but


2.215.  AW: So they vary


2.216.  JB: Yeah, they do vary, according to really the density of the population as to opposed the, amount of producers there are in that area, how rural it is I suppose, in a nutshell isnít it


2.217.  AW: So you would have the regular farmers markets, that you go to


2.218.  JB: So we do, we do, we do eight, yup


2.219.  AW: So err, there are seven days in a week, so err


2.220.  JB: No, donít panic, theyíre a month, once a month mostly, Reading, is, is, just into Berkshire, obviously, that we do twice a month, and err, thatís at the cattle market, the actual market, the traditional market place, and umm, that we do twice a month, but all the others are only once a month, so, yeah, spread out, youíve got one week, one week I do the deliveries to the shops one day, and err, one evening I always work, a week, usually, umm, in the shop, when everybody else is out of the way, cause itís very difficult to do your cook products when the shops working, so I like to do that when the shops closed, so, umm, then I go in and make pate and haslet and black-pudding and all that type of thing, itís much easier to have the shop to yourself, you know the working areas to yourself, and


2.221.  JB: Do you think if you hadnít, umm, diversified in, and err, been selling directly to your customers, the end customers, the public, do you think you would have survived here


2.222.  JB: No, we wonít, without a doubt, without a doubt, in the, in eighty, about, about í85, we just started selling to butchers and doing the additive free and by í86, the, the, one of the feed companies, we owed money to, from this awful crash in í84, we owed them some money and we were paying them, trying to make it and Andy was, doing this driving parcel job, to pay the debts, and err, one of the feed companies, was taken over by somebody else, that we owed the money to, and, and, he, I just asked him to come out, I said, this is what weíre doing, you can see, and because Iíve always done book keeping, I know if somethingís right of wrong, if itís going to work, and umm, I said to him,  will you come out and look at, look at this, you know, umm, and this was this new company that had taken over the one we owed the money to, and he said, oh gosh, yeah, I can see, you know, doing this, you know, weíre saying itís cost this, so this is what we want for it and thereís a profit so obviously, you going to, rather than a loss, and we did that, and umm, but if we hadnít done that, we, we wouldnít, you know, maybe if, if err, I suppose we could have probably stayed here I donít know, but we were concerned because it was built as an agricultural holding, oh I think weíre too, perhaps we were too law abiding in some ways, but you know, thatís why we had the bungalow built so thatís what


2.223.  AW: And you bungalow had an agricultural tie


2.224.  JB: An agricultural tie on it, yeah, and we wouldnít have built this on the main, the edge of a main road, for any other purpose, it was built purposely for the, because weíd got sows here, breeding sows and err, about that time, in the í80s, there was, when this was built, umm, eighty three, we moved in here, there was a lot of animal rights problems and theyíd actually set fire to one farm, and they had an awful job getting all the pigs out, you know, and umm


2.225.  AW: Near here, a farm near here was it


2.226.  JB: I donít, I canít remember where it was, somewhere, I donít think it was necessarily local, but it was, there was quite an uprising at that time, there was, everybody was on the march and err, the um, what do they call them, the umm, activists and all that, you know, they were sort of going through one of their little, you know, the people who do the hunting ban and all that, umm

2.227.  AW: The Animal Liberation Front


2.228.  JB: Yeah, the, mainly them and err


2.229.  AW: Animal rights activists


2.230.  JB: I canít, yeah, and theyíre, my dad said, to me oh, I shouldnít put a sign up for, for your shop, even when we opened the shop, so that would have started selling meat from here, we were a little bit nervous about it, because we were frightened that people were going to come in, and do things you know, and that, that was some of the reason, we actually built the bungalow here, was because, and weíd had a couple of pigs stolen, so, we thought, ooh, you know, we were worried about the livestock, so that was the reason for building the bungalow, on site


2.231.  AW: Have you had any problems like that


2.232.  JB: Never, no, no we havenít, thankfully, I mean, probably, if theyíd come and looked, you donít know, how they, know, or why they attack a particular place, Iíve now idea, umm, because, possibly, our pigs have been well kept, and theyíve always got straw and food and, you know, we donít have, you know, one thing our pigs have always had always had food ad-lib, umm, the sows we couldnít obviously, but err, we used to feed them twice a day, so that you never had noise of squealing animals, err, desperate for food or anything, I mean theyíre not desperate, they just love food, so theyíre going to make a noise when they see a bucket, but all our growers, have always been able to help themselves to food and water and always had straw, so, although theyíre in, theyíve got, a pretty good time, you know


2.233.  AW: So if you hadnít started developing this direct selling or marketing, and prior to that going to the local butchers, umm, where, would you just


2.234.  JB: Weíd have had to gone back to work doing, nothing in agriculture, without a doubt, you could not, we tried, you know, every way, really, and as I say, the targets for, pig performance and farm performance were very good, but youíd had no control over, you were producing, I mean, itís crazy, crazy, system, youíre producing, whatever it is, pigs, in our case, and theyíre costing you say, fifty pound to get them to that, at that time, I think it was about forty five, or something, to get them to that, size and ready to go and you were only being paid, thirty, or thirty five, I mean itís the most, you, you canít go on like that, and, I suppose, because, we were more aware of it, in a sense, because, weíd both been out of the agricultural industry and worked, Iíd worked in a garage, you know, umm, selling cars and all that sort of thing, doing the accounts and, my dad had, had other businesses, so we were very well aware of you know, weíd lived in the real world, we knew if you didnít make a profit, you know, youíve got to live and we had a mortgage, most people have mortgages, if youíve got to pay a mortgage, your bills and, youíve got to make some money, you can not


2.235.  AW: So you had some business skills that youíd developed outside of farming

2.236.  JB: Yes, yeah, I think that was, as much as actually the diver, but it, the diversification, it was the, the cross of the two things, because we both, perhaps it would have been much more difficult for us, to have diversified if we hadnít worked in, other business, because you, you draw, you donít even realise it, but you draw on those things to, to change, donít you really


2.237.  AW: Did you spend long selling cars


2.238.  JB: Well, I didnít sell them so much, as do the books afterwards, and, and if umm, if youíre doing the books, if you can see things are, not profitable, then your job is to tell your boss that somebodyís, you know, not doing their sort, you know, theyíve got too many, parts, I was like an, analyst, accounts analyst really, for lots of small businesses, you know, thatís what I did, so, I think probably that was the biggest benefit Iíd got of experience in a way, and of course, retailing with the coal business, so you used to actually, helping dad on that, and talking to people, which is, youíve got to be able to do, really


2.239.  AW: Now, umm, do you, are there any occupational hazards in being a farmer, health and safety


2.240.  JB: Probably not, any more than, most industries, umm, I mean, probably the butchers shop is more dangerous than the farm in some ways


2.241.  AW: Some farmers, umm, you know thereís a lot of lifting, heavy machinery


2.242.  JB: Yeah


2.243.  AW: Dangerous machinery, potentially dangerous machinery


2.244.  JB: Well, I suppose, that was one problem we had was umm, even lifting and moving pigs, you can slip and hurt yourself, and, Andy, my husband suffered two or three times with, you know, hurting his back and wonít be able to do certain things and I, I think, if we had our pigs outside, you wouldnít be able to cope with doing that now, weíd have to, employee labour or weíve got another son who doesnít really quite know what heís doing or where heís going, and heís only eighteen but, they have to decide for themselves, James left here and worked in retailing, then came back to us, umm


2.245.  AW: He works as your butcher now, is that right


2.246.  JB: He works in the shop, yup, and he would no, you know, thatís the only thing, if we hadnít done this, you know, he wouldnít have been able to come, he wouldnít have gone into farming, he wouldnít, if we hadnít done this, there would be no opportunities where thereís probably opportunities for two of them really, to carry on, umm, run it, you know, run the business but, if we hadnít diversified there would be, there would be nothing, no, weíd probably maybe be here, worrying whether we should be living in an agricultural bungalow, you know


2.247.  AW: So, I mean, some farmers who work on cereals, they have farmers lung, and that, you know


2.248.  JB: My mum actually had that, when we were, when we had, the farm at home, and they didnít, when she filled out the form at the doctors, sheíd just, they said, kept saying do live near any trees, and she was saying no, no, no and one day she just was late for the appointment, she said Iím so sorry my husband been combining and I had to do this, this, and err, they said, oh, youíre a farmers wife, thatís it, itís farmers lung, she had that, and she was very poorly for quite some time, so umm, there are things that I suppose, because we donít mill and mix, our feed comes in, direct, already for the pigs, you know, have it made to our specification, exactly we say what we want in it, what we donít want in it, umm, and that now, has to come from Wrexham, which was a point we were touching on earlier, the nearest one was a Wallingford, List Mills, and they used to do it for us, umm


2.249.  AW: So thereís no machinery, or umm, substances, chemicals or, or whatever, that you


2.250.  JB: No


2.251.  AW: Cause you any concern


2.252.  JB: Not, not, no, because, err, I suppose, umm, with probably donít really use anything, we donít even, we donít, we used to powerwash, and, and wash everything out, and sterilize everything, but we donít do that, we, our pigs tend to have a natural immunity to, thatís what we believe in doing, and we found they were much healthier,  than err, cause theyíre on a straw, theyíre in a natural environment anyway, umm, so we donít, so we donít, we had to when the foot and mouth obviously you do boot dips and things like that, but we donít really use any, we donít use any weed killers, we donít use any sprays in the field, even when we had our cattle out in the field, thereís no sprays been on that for years, but I am concerned about them, I mean I donít like sprays, I think theyíre horrid things, err


2.253.  AW: But other things just like, tools you know, that might be a bit sharp or, you donít have any


2.254.  JB: Yeah, err, well no more than, normal


2.255.  AW: Yeah


2.256.  JB: Normal, working environment, if you work with the, the only thing is we never encourage the children onto the farm, unless we were there, with them, because of those things, there was a, there was a, umm, when my husband was repping, for this feed company, he went ot a farm, and umm, a tyre, tractor tyre fell over on one of their children and he was killed, and I just remember Andy coming back, and I said, whatís happened, you know, whatís wrong, and he said, heíd been to the farm that, you know, just to call in, just afterwards and err, this poor farmers son, had, so I think, you know, you hear thinks, and it makes you, take it a little bit more, I mean they always find some mischief to get in, falling in a pile of muck or something, but we didnít ever encourage them to work on the farm, before they were, or doing anything, before they were certainly man enough to do it, and with supervision, we just didnít


2.257.  JB: And you have two sons, is that right


2.258.  AW: Three, weíve got, altogether, yeah, James, whoís, who works with us, Harry, who works as a lighting engineer and DJ in a night club, and Tim, whose not really sure quite what heís doing, heís between jobs, but he does, you know, he doesnít do a very good job all the time, but he does


2.259.  JB: Sounds like thereís plenty of opportunities here


2.260.  AW: Theyíre grass needs cutting, you know, those are the jobs that I was trying to do everything, where as Tim, just picked up on, and if something happened then I canít do the delivering, he can do that now, so


2.261.  AW: Let me, how, how do you keep in touch with whatís happening, err, in this country, in the UK and abroad, do you get Farmers Weekly, or any other press


2.262.  JB: Yeah, we have, have the umm, the Pig World magazine, and the NFU magazine and then the, several food magazines, umm, Meat and Poultry, Pig and Poultry or something, itís called, umm, so those things, and also in, because of what had happened to us, in 1992, we formed a group called Ladies In Pigs, and LIPs for short, and the, well I wasnít a founder member, there were three ladies, one went off to Australia in the end, but it, they were just fed up, because their husbands all worked one way or another within the pig industry and yet in the eighties they were seeing their own livelihoods, although they werenít directly farming, one was a farmer, one was a farmers rep. or something, her husband, but they could see, that these prices were just, tumbling and nothing, you know, and nothing, you know, there was no promotion of the British porks, so they decided to start Ladies In Pigs, promoting British Pork, and there was a meeting over at, Pig Improvement Company then, saying about it and weíd been through the mill, really


2.263.  AW: The Pig Improvement Company, whatís that


2.264.  JB: Yeah, thatís PIC, Pig Improvement, they were a breeding company, for pigs to try and produce, you know, they were doing all the crosses, and selective breeding, to produce the best pig, that would grow as fast as possible, as lean as possible, in as least days as possible, basically, and err, you know, all the best attributes that everybody wanted, this very lean meat and this and that, and you know, so it was a, and they were world famous, you know, they did very well, and theyíre still one of the leading, pig breeding companies, and weíd worked, weíd had our pigs from them so weíd worked, we did quite a bit of work with them, theyíd sometimes say, once weíd got a vacuum packer and a slicer, and everything, they umm, get us to cure a ham for them and then weíd slice it and weíd label it, saying theyíd say what breed of pig it was, and weíd say this is your this is your large white pig, cured and thing, and if somebody was coming from abroad theyíd use the hams for that sort of thing


2.265.  AW: So you were, you joined


2.266.  JB: Ladies In Pigs


2.267.  AW: Ladies In Pigs


2.268.  JB: Yeah, I was foolish enough to stand up at the meeting and say yes, itís deperate, weíve got to do something, weíve got to promote this pork, I know whatís happened to us, and I viewed it as, we were lucky, we were on the main road, we could turn the shop, err, the garage into a shop, but not everybody is in that situation, theyíre down some farm track, miles away and, I wasnít the only one, Andy and I werenít the only one who were, there were many people, you know, did actually have to sell up and loose their farm as they have in the, even the last ten years again


2.269.  AW: So, how, how, long had it been going before you joined


2.270.  JB: Umm, I think it was in the second year, about í92 we joined it, and thereís Clare Beacroft from umm, but I mean, theyíre even out of pigs, theyíd been in pigs all, this last lot was, but theyíve given up pigs now, Greenlands Farm And Jane Drew


2.271.  AW: Thatís near here is it


2.272.  JB: Yup, by Wallingford, umm, she came, and Jill Graham, a lady from Gloucester way, and said right, you know, weíre pig farmers we want to form this group, will anybody be chairman, I never stood up, umm


2.273.  AW: So was there a public meeting then, or was it NFU meeting, or


2.274.  JB: It was like anybody that was on anybodyís list, within agriculture, with pigs, you had a mail, you know a mail shot come out and it was advertised in the pig farmer and things like that and I said, god, we need to go to this, you know, I couldnít believe Iíd stood up at the meeting, I couldnít, I, I think it was the change in my life really at that point, but it was because what had happened, I was so motivated if you like, I felt so strongly about the fact that there was not the promotion out there, so we formed this group and weíve been all over the country doing demonstrations, off weíd go with our frying pan, I had lots of bits in the paper about it, people think, whatís this, you know


2.275.  AW: So whatís the criteria to be a member of err, is it a membership organisation


2.276.  JB: Yeah, itís membership, and the criteria, well, as long as you were interested in British Pork, and the promotion of it, whether you actually youíd ever worked in the industry, first of all, I suppose, most people, would be expected to be, farming, farmers husbands, farmers wife, or you know, something like that, or a partner in a farm, but some people were vets, some people were umm, just cooks, that liked using pork and, you know, we had, umm, people from any, really, as long you want to promote British Pork, that was it


2.277.  AW: So itís a national organisation


2.278.  JB: Itís a national


2.279.  AW: with members all round the country


2.280.  JB: Yeah, yeah, and err, Frances Slade Is our Chairman, and err, she came to that first meeting and she was very involved at the time in pig judging at the shows, and was breeding pigs to show them, and umm, when she managed to err, slacken off slightly from that, and sort of went out of pigs, at one point because people had to, you just, we werenít the only ones, we were the ones that sort of, just about managed to stay in it, but there were, people were giving up left, right and centre, because we were loosing so much money, but I was determined not to give up completely, one way or another, so I did a lot of, for Ladies In Pigs then, umm, with the Chairman, on and off, whenever anybody else was busy, you know, we had to keep this thing going and we used to, we used to, when I was doing it more, weíd go to ASDA and places like that, and cook the bacon, cook the pork strips, minced pork, try and get people to realise, that minced pork was a really, nice thing to use, and people just hadnít perhaps thought of using minced pork, you know, things likes that, so umm, I was, I think, I was Chairman again in about í99, and in that, that was when the, the spring of í99 more or less, was when the farmers markets, that when it was, about that time, and I, I could see myself getting more busy with the farmerís markets, and I knew, I just hadnít got time to do the ladies in pigs as well, and err, I do it, still, but we do W.I.s in the evening, so I can, perhaps, go out every, I might only do one every six months, but if somebody rings me up, and says, you come and talk about British pork then Iíll go, so I still do it but err, not as much as, you know perhaps, more people have got a little bit more time and theyíre involved in selling their meats through supermarkets


2.281.  AW: Yeah, so thereís, the, youíve got the farming press there, and you said about that, then youíve got, the, the Ladies In Pigs, umm, are there other ways you keep in contact, umm, keep in touch with whatís happening, I donít if there are web sites, or newsletters, or umm


2.282.  JB: We get the thing from the NFU, we always whiz through that, you know, you, well you try to, but it really is time, I donít have time to get on that computer, Iím doing some recipes


2.283.  AW: Sure


2.284.  JB: For the farmers market, umm

2.285.  AW: What do you think is the most important of those ways in which you keep in touch, that, err, to you, which do you thing is the most important, of the, of the, whether it be printed or meetings or word of mouth or


2.286.  JB: I think


2.287.  AW: Could be on the radio, donít know


2.288.  JB: yes


2.289.  AW: Farming Today, donít know if you listen to that


2.290.  JB: No, I donít, I donít seem to catch that one, Iím obviously still asleep from making black puddings, umm, I, I think which is the most important, probably itís meeting other people in the industry, because when, the ladies in pigs was absolutely essential for me to know, what was happening within the industry, so that if, I could do something to help, then, and you knew what other people were going through, cause once your not selling, to those wholesalers, you donít know what the price of pork is, I mean, now I couldnít tell you what theyíre paying per pound, whether theyíre on a good or a bad price umm, so that is important, because it does keep me within, cause you almost can leave too much, youíve got to be able to keep in those agricultural ties really, and people like Peter Beson, our feed rep, you know, when he comes round, you talk to him, umm, and youíve got to have so much more knowledge of different things really, err, you know, thatís, but, probably meeting other producers


2.291.  AW: So is Ladies in, Ladies in Pigs, mostly small producers who sell direct


2.292.  JB: No, itís the larger producers, I mean our, the umm, the lady chairman, is Frances Slade, and she works with the national pig association and people like that, itís the big pig farmers, thatís why for me it was


2.293.  AW: Are you a member of the National Pig Association


2.294.  JB: No, I donít think I am now, because I do umm, I donít really, weíve so small and how weíre doing it, itís err weíre not no, we used to be, you know when we were selling more, so then we tried to do things more, so I try to help on a local basis rather then on the national level now, it was to try, the thing was really, was to try and I felt, to try and encourage other people to get out there and do, try and do something about it really, and err, you know, help other people a bit to, you know, to get on


2.295.  AW: Is the, umm, the National Farmers Union, the NFU, is that important to you


2.296.  JB: Well, we do all our insurance through them, no, err, we never make their meetings, we just donít, probably, itís not so important to us, because weíre not in growing crops, and things like that, because we havenít got land, whereas I think if youíve got all these different reforms, I, I really donít know a great deal about the cereal and the how much subsidy and what they had before and what they didnít have and how much the Governments, cutting back and how much, because weíve not been involved in it, weíve never, never had any subsidies so, it doesnít worry you so, you, you know, you just know that, how much youíre paying for your food, the pig feed, things like that, and how it can possibly effect that, but


2.297.  AW: Do, do you have any contact with, err, farmers from other countries


2.298.  JB: Yeah, we have done, weíve umm, we, but again, only on a smaller scale, weíve had people out from Russia, though umm, gosh, itís a company used to be out Standlock, Standlake way and they, I meet them at the Royal Show, we was doing the Ladies In Pigs thing, and umm, they had


2.299.  AW: So did you have a stall there, or something


2.300.  JB: The Ladies In Pigs did, yup, and umm, they were, theyíd got some people who were over from, Russia, no it wasnít through Ladies In Pigs, thatís wrong, I meet them again with Ladies In Pigs, but they had, some people over from Russian, when, just after everything changed, you know, and err, they came out and took photographs and the, the funny thing was, they said did we have anybody trying to bribe us for money to run our business, I canít think what the word is, err, Itís gone now, but you know, that was there biggest fear, because everybody


2.301.  AW: They came and visited you, here


2.302.  JB: They came here


2.303.  AW: On the farm, did they


2.304.  JB: Yeah, yeah, and saw how we made the sausages, and all that, and we used to, until last year or the year before last, there was, out on the Reading road, thereís a, err, organic farm, which was run I think by a, Christian sort of, basically, but not over, you didnít know it was any thing to do with it, it was a charity and umm, they had people over from Uganda every year


2.305.  AW: Is that Warren Farm


2.306.  JB: Warren Farm, yup, Iím glad you remembered the name, and err, we got quite, I got quite involved in that again, umm, and we had them, weíve got some pictures somewhere, they were such wonderful people, then when theyíd go home weíd try and make it over, before they went back


2.307.  AW: Do you keep in contact with any of these farmers that youíve meet.


2.308.  JB: Umm, yeah, they send a, a letter every now and again, they, they tend to err, send a newsletter with, you know what the different farms we, we havenít actually kept a personal contact, itís just time, you canít don it, you just, thereís a lot of things you have to actually give up of, on the personal side, because youíre doing so much, you know, you donít sometimes keep, your contacts up, with friends, and personal, your private life can suffer a little bit, because, youíre so busy, in your business, and, not just your business, but trying to, things you believe in, I suppose


2.309.  AW: Was it, was it, was difficult then, I mean with children that must be difficult


2.310.  JB: It was, when, when they were little, it was very difficult, I mean we were very fortunate, because mum and dad were only the field behind us, so, if I was late on a delivery or something, theyíd, they could go to their grannyís, and they were at there grannyís, but there was certainly a period then, of when you just wondered, you were just coming in, you know getting tea and going to bed and, but you know, I think lots of family go through that, for all sorts of reasons, people are made redundant, itís all very well wimping about it, but you know, look at the steel workers a few years ago, thereís all sorts of industries, you canít feel, it could happen, no matter what youíre doing, and I think itís just, youíve got to get up and get on with it, and try and, and itís nice when it does work because youíve, you think, well you know, thatís it, especially James now, okay he might have gone through a period when, err, you know, he perhaps didnít have the same things, and didnít have what he wanted for Christmas, and saw other people with it, but, that doesnít do us an awful lot of harm, think of, if you can get things right and you donít fall apart on the way, thatís really, if you can stick together through it, isnít it really, I think you perhaps benefit in, in the long term


2.311.  AW: You, you definitely umm, come through it, but do you know of other farmers who havenít, whoíve


2.312.  JB: Well


2.313.  AW: Have they, theyíve given up farming maybe, or


2.314.  JB: Some people have given up particularly livestock or dairying or, I mean you just got to look round and, and, I donít know their personal, absolute details, but it just not profitable, and they canít afford to carry on like it, and itís knowing what to go into, I mean now thereís a good many going into growing these non-edible crops, you know, energy crops and all that sort of thing, umm


2.315.  AW: But that isnít something that youíd consider here, not having the land, or


2.316.  JB: No, no


2.317.  AW: Or is it


2.318.  JB: It isnít something weíd, we would consider but some, thatís what other people, as far as knowing what other people are doing, you know, thatís, thatís, their having to diverse in other ways, but, like my friend Clare I mean, they always had pigs, and they were, a very, very, efficient farm, very efficient farm, but they just, their, last, I think it was last year, and the year before, you know, it was just the pig industry lost so much money, itís just horrendous, I mean


2.319.  AW: Cause of the foot and mouth


2.320.  JB: Well, not so much the foot and mouth, I donít thing, it was before that, you know, itís the price, the pricing situation of, rearing these pigs, and then, I mean itís crazy, itís still run like it now, if we had, for instance, if we had, ten pigs to go this week, just for arguments sake, and we only, we knew we could only sell five of them, and we, they had to go, cause we needed the space, or they were too big, or whatever, and they were perfect pigs, and you could send them to the abattoir, they would say, if you were doing it on a regular basis, youíd ring this person, youíd ring this person, and youíd send them, to whoever was giving you the best price, but that best price is what theyíre giving you, itís not what itís cost you, well, I mean, so it could be well under what itís cost to produce it, and that is how the pig industry, is run, umm, I donít, well and, and the beef come to that, you know, thatís how itís run, you donít get what itís cost you to produce that product, youíre getting, whatever the market price is, and sometimes you hear people saying, oh well, theyíre talking the price up, or theyíre talking the price down, and Iím thinking, who is this, thatís talking it, you know, itís, itís crazy, and


2.321.  AW: How do people survive then, when their, when their price of there, their sale price is, err, less than the cost of production


2.322.  JB: Well this is where you get this whole thing of having to produce these pigs, in, as many, least days as possible, whether itís pigs or whatever it is, but pigs because I know it, itís because youíre having to, youíve got to have the very minimum costs, so this poor farmers, that are trying to, to carry on with what heís doing, heís trying to produce this product, at least cost possible, which means if heís got to cut down on labour, or heís got to cut down on, umm, and thatís why, the growth promoters and things like came into being, that was all it was, it was because, people were saying, canít, you know, what about this feed, or higher energy, theyíd say, oh it needs more protein, if you have more protein, or more energy, or something, you know, theyíll grow faster and this was the whole thing, and thatís what, was, has, been product driven, the farmer, to produce the pigs, at that price, because theyíre, thereís no, and hopefully the National Pig Association, thereís a very, err, friend of ours, actually husband is chairman of that now, and heís a Yorkshire chap, and err, I have great hopes for him because I think heís strong enough personality to, to get people say, this is it, you know, weíve got to stop, but unless we stop importing, you know, if theyíre producing it, abroad, cheaper, umm, and theyíre not doing it by the same regulations as us and they can do it cheaper and you donít know where itís coming from, or anything else, and youíre getting foot and mouth coming into the country, for instance when we have a pig killed here, you also pay a levy, towards the eradication of swine fever, or whatever, to clear it in the country, thatís fine, so weíve all paid this money to get this disease so that if youíve got that disease on your farm, the, the vets come out, they destroy the herd, end of story and you wait until youíre clean and then you restock, like the foot and mouth


2.323.  AW: Is that levy a legal requirement


2.324.  JB: Itís done, itís just, on, I donít know if Iíve got a thing to show you, but, itís just on the invoice, you know, pig levy, so much, youíd get charged an inspection fee by the, be, pigís have to be inspected, umm, by the Meat and Livestock Commission, and stamped, inspected to say theyíre passable for human consumption, so you have to pay for that, and you pay this, err, other thing, in fact, I, it  might even have stopped now, but we were paying, it was about thirty pence a pig, and then, youíre importing pork, and itís in there, if itís in there as a, it still stays there, so somehow it gets back  into the food chain and back into the animal food chain, itís off again, you know


2.325.  AW: Is, is there a lot of beaurocracy in farming today


2.326.  JB: Yes, I think, umm, I think


2.327.  AW: For you


2.328.  JB: There is, it, to a degree there is, yeah, umm, I suppose, especially when the foot and mouth, I mean that really bought it to a head, you know, of we were like, a hundred yards in the catchment area, so you couldnít move your pigs, regardless of anything and yet, you could take them out, take them to an abattoir and they could be killed and, and umm, on welfare grounds, and err, destroyed, but there was nothing wrong with them, but you couldnít have them back, you know I mean, theyíre, theyíre, thatís when, itís only when itís probably something like that, and I think there, there has to be some, policing and restrictions anyway, in order to keep our herds and our animals healthy, you donít want people tramping stuff round the countryside because thatís exactly, what caused the last problem


2.329.  AW: Where do you get your advice on growing and rearing, umm, from, what is the most important source, itís about quarter to twelve


2.330.  JB: Umm


2.331.  AW: Is half twelve alright for you to finish at


2.332.  JB: Yeah, no, Iím not really, Iím ignoring the phone so, it doesnít, umm, sorry


2.333.  AW: Expertise really, where do you, where do you get your umm, growing or rearing err advice from, youíll get agronomists on cereals, etc


2.334.  JB: Yeah, I think, I think itís been down to us and our own stockmanship really, if, for instance, when we had a problem, what we always done, if we had a pig, that, for whatever reason, died, you going to have livestock, you know, itís the old saying, youíve got livestock, youíve got dead stock, and err, when we had some weaners and one died, looked seedy and the next day it died, we would take it, we used to take them to Coley Park in Reading, and weíd have a biopsy done on, you know, an autopsy or whatever you call it, done on them, to see what was wrong with them, and we, we always did that, so that, unless you could see itíd just keeled over and had a heart attack, for no, you know, if there was anything slightly doubtful, then we did that, touch wood, weíve never had anything in years that weíve had to go, but if we had something happen tomorrow, that we couldnít tell, from our own experience, that it was umm, something which we recognised, then we would call in somebody like that and have a post mortem done and know where we were, because, and if everybody did that, weíd all a lot better, because, although itís, perhaps expensive to do that, if youíve got a problem, you know about it


2.335.  AW: Do you get much advice from, from, vets, or company reps., or


2.336.  JB: Not so much now because weíre so small no bodys really interested, you know, itís often a case of you talk, you go to the shows and, you talk to somebody and you want to some information and then when you tell them, you know, how many pigs youíve got, whatever, umm, theyíre sort of not that, interested but, the feed company is, important, because obviously they need to find, source your feed, and thatís what, as I say ours know comes from Wrexham because we particularly, itís not whatís in it, itís what not in it, if you like, you know


2.337.  AW: Do you, do you get reps calling-in off, the off-chance, or phoning you


2.338.  JB: Not so much now, no, we used to, but I think they all probably know, more or less you know, that weíre small and not in the market, you know they canít make enough money out of us really to, you know, itís a small, very small business, as far as, to the agricultural sector this is just so small itís


2.339.  AW: Yeah


2.340.  JB: But, thatís not the point, thereís no point in having hundreds of something, not, and not being in control of the situation, no point at all


2.341.  AW: Umm, what, what do you think about the, the NFU, are you a member


2.342.  JB: Yeah, we are members, yeah, yeah, well we do


2.343.  AW: Do they represent, do you think they represent you


2.344.  JB: I think they do, I donít, as I say, because weíre probably very much, on our own, but, because weíre so small and itís almost, moving out of the farming industry, the, the few pigs we have within the, you know, everybody else has got thousands and thousands, in some ways, again, you know, theyíre perhaps, umm, a lot, you know, weíre not really, that great importance, but if somethingís wrong and you need, you know you needed, some advice, you could go them and get it, and that would be impartial and they would be the same to you Iím sure, umm, whether you had a thousand acres, or whether, I think itís sort of bit like, your doctor, you know, theyíre there if you need them, umm and because of what weíre doing, when I think  when we first diversified, err, we did speak to them then, they sent some brochures on, you know, retailing and things, and umm


2.345.  [pauses, sounds in neighbouring room]


2.346.  AW: Do you want to go and have a look


2.347.  JB: Oh itís only James, itís okay, umm, so they did at that, you know, the on set, they did that


2.348.  AW: In the foot and mouth crisis do you, err, do you think they were representing you then, did you agree with them


2.349.  JB: Err, did we agree with them. No, I donít think many farmers did really agree, cause, it seemed to be the blind leading the blind a bit with the foot and mouth, I donít think, I think the biggest problem was, that, Iím not really, to be honest, Iím not really sure what there absolute stance was, so I wouldnít like to comment too much on it. We were almost too wrapped up in how it affected us individually, and, when we were going to be able to moved our pigs, whether we were going to be able to get the feed in, you know, um, and again, because we were smaller you tend to get, when itís a real crises, like that, you do tend to get a little bit interlocked into your own thing, you know, umm, I think the biggest thing from the foot and mouth was the, having lived through it before, was, you felt that nobody was taking any notice soon enough, nobody was, and perhaps the NFU should have been, a bit more heavy handed in, from the beginning and said, look, weíve been through this, read the file and act on it, because it was all there and if theyíd done what it said, in the first place from the notes that were, come to light, come sometime afterward didnít they, you know, umm, so I think really, Iím not a great one on, exactly what they were saying at the time


2.350.  AW: What do you think of, I think its Ben Gill, isnít it, the President of the NFU


2.351.  JB: Yeah, umm, again I think as a small producer, err


2.352.  AW: Have you ever thought about, I mean, I donít know if there other smaller producer, err, organisations


2.353.  JB: Yeah


2.354.  AW: I mean I suppose, Women In Pigs


2.355.  JB: Well thatís were I work, I tend, Ladies In Pigs, was initially, and then as things have changed, umm, I was, I am a founder member of the Thames Valley Farmers Market Association, because, I, it was a bit like, when Ladies In Pigs, you know, this desperate thing to, something you really knew worked and people believed in, and we formed this, association, to market our products, and Iíve also, umm, from the, quite early days of the Agenda 21 local food issues, because I know itís, from talking to people, itís what people really want, and itís getting it onto that wider sector where, where err, you can, get more people benefit, not just perhaps the well off, that can drive to local farm shop, but getting things into the towns where err, people can get it, from the farmers, and umm, because that done fare, I said to you earlier, we didnít, marketing side of doing internet sales and all that went by the way, because we  felt that, the local sales and the local thing, was much more of a burning issue and it also, hopefully, tries to bring some life back into the towns, itís a sort of double edge sword isnít it, youíre trying to, do both things, and umm, I went to the food meetings, the Agenda 21 food forum, with Suzy Ohlenshlarga, I donít know if, sheís very interesting lady


2.356.  AW: I donít know her


2.357.  JB: She works for Oxfordshire County Council and sheís, sheís done a lot to promote the local foods, sheís err, got a directory up together, with Oxfordshire, and all the farms, saying what they produce, and how they produce it, and I think when we have, such


2.358.  AW: Was that Lucy


2.359.  JB: Thereís Lucy Nichols, sheís from Oxford Brookes University, sheís on it, but Suzy is the one who actually works in Oxford, through the County Council, but there was this wonderful band of people, that werenít anything to do with farming that were trying, and I just felt it was, you know, when thereís that offer of help, there hasnít been, when we first started you were looked at, you know, youíre farmers, youíre not retailers, you know, and there wasnít much help out there, really it was the, environment and health you had to try and get to try and tell you what youíd got to do, to comply with regulations, and trading standards, that was it, there was nothing, nobody else, saying this is a good idea, you know, we were a bit before our time, so I did feel that it was necessary to, try and be as helpful in a way, to those people that were actually there, supporting, well even doing what weíre doing today, because people have to be reckon, if they are going to help the agriculture, if we are going to change, and be rural and be recognised, then weíve got to give some time to it, weíre got to, and it has worked, weíve got the Association up and running, itís run by a steering committee of eight to ten people, umm, the idea is, because what happens, the towns perhaps, the Councils are all people that are voted on, voted off, arenít they, and you might have a group of people that think the farmers markets are wonderful, and then, all changes and the next persons, more into, umm, fox hunting or you know, doing more IT work and the farming issues going to go by the wayside so the farmers markets going to stop and no bodyís got time to worry about it, so the idea of the Association was to form it, so that when, somebody said, well thatís it, we, we canít run this or do it any more, we could try and keep it going, which is what weíve, weíve done and weíre actually starting to actually run some of the markets ourselves, and to keep, keep the farmers markets going, and promote them, locally, and working with, Lucy Nichols and err Suzy Ohlenshlarger, we have now, got as far as, Iíve missed a couple of meetings cause Iíve been tied up with markets and things, err we have somebody, for, forming a food group, Oxfordshire food group, umm, employed a person, sort of between us, so theyíll do one, one point five days a week for the farmers markets association, some for Oxfordshire Food Group, umm, and Lucy Nichols is very involved in that, so if you have time to, she would tell you all the details, cause I only


2.360.  AW: Sure


2.361.  JB: Support it, but I mean to me that is absolutely wonderful because it should help more local, and thatís were I, I come from that angle, I may not know what Ben Gillís doing but, you know, itís whatís happening in our county that, to me, is the most important, really, the local issues, really


2.362.  AW: Do you, do you thing there is a crisis in farming, in, in the UK


2.363.  JB: Oh, I think, I think there is, yeah, as I say, I donít know enough about it, but I think itís, weíre going to end up being a country of, sort of, service industries if weíre not careful, you know, because, thereís so few people working on, in agriculture, umm, okay youíve got big machines and all the rest of it, but err, I think umm, we import so much, and yet weíve got this wonderful green rich land, you know, thereís something wrong, somewhere, there is something wrong I think


2.364.  AW: What about in the rest of the world, do you think thereís a crisis there, or, in other countries


2.365.  JB: Yes, I think, I think, probably there is, I mean, they always used to be on about the mountains, didnít they, the food, the butter mountain, we never hear anything of that, what, you know, has it disappeared, is it there, or, it seems crazy, you know, but I donít know how we can get it all right, I think we have to start at home, I think itís the only thing you can do and like, if you meet somebody, like when these people came from , err, Warren Farm, it was a wonderful experience, because theyíd come and you could talk to them, and because youíre a small producer they could, I think is was more a hands-on thing and you could, and there they described how they grow all their crops, I mean Iíd love to go there


2.366.  AW: Is that because they were small producers, as well


2.367.  JB: Yes, yeah, I mean theyíre not, this would seem like a, you know, six acres or ten acres would seem tremendous to them, theyíd probably only got what weíd term as more of a garden size, but if they could actually, not be hungry, and grow their food and have enough left over to sell buy the thing they didnít grow, you know, itís sustainability isnít it, thatís the, worn word that drives me, mad, I mean thatís what we need to be doing, in every country in every region, and umm


2.368.  AW: What, what do you think caused this farming crisis


2.369.  JB: I donít, I, I, I think probably, probably loosing control local, at the local, everything getting bigger and, and loosing the local control


2.370.  AW: Do you mean farm sizes increasing


2.371.  JB: Everything really, the way the distribution and, you know, things to try and make it cheaper to, produce and cheaper to, err, trying to produce cheap food, really, in a nutshell, thatís, thatís where it used t be, and you think, when I think back, to when I was little, food was never cheap, it wasnít a cheap option, umm, but when you think that a chicken is probably, you can buy a chicken for two pounds or something, I mean, that is the most ridiculous thing in the world, how can you possibly, do that, in the ways, youíd like to do it, and so maybe once the larger companies, that are selling it, start saying weíre going to pay you this, to the farmer, for that product, youíve lost it, youíve lost the plot, because itís no longer what itís cost to produce, itís what youíre being paid, and I think thatís probably gone, I donít so much about the cereal, but certainly, I think thatís whatís happened with the food industry side of it, you know, trying to make everything, even hanging bacon, or making bacon, we went round a factory and they said twelve hours from pig to bacon, well, I mean you just want to laugh really, donít you, because, anything thatís dead, youíve, when youíve reared it, you almost want to respect it, it sounds stupid, but you, you respect that, animal, when itís dead in a way, because of all the nurturing and things youíve gone through, and to think it as being a slice of bacon, almost in twelve, it seems, just wrong, itís, I donít know, it may sound very silly but thatís how it is to me, you, you sort of have a respect for your food and, and the whole thing, and, and thatís how everything used to be, but, so I think this fast, mad, rush and everything being done in such massive quantities, and, to, to make it cheap is where weíve gone wrong really, trying to produce something which is impossible


2.372.  AW: So, doing things more locally has, has worked for, for you, but do you think exporting might be the answer for some


2.373.  JB: Yes, I think it probably is, umm, especially when weíve got so many people, even now, umm, moving abroad, you know, you go abroad thereís, thereís an awful lot of people, cause people, even our customers, that have gone abroad have said, arrh, they come home and they, they said, they hide things in their suitcases to take back with them, because they canít get the English products abroad, and of course the foot and mouth didnít help that at all, because that made, you know


2.374.  AW: Do, do you export any of the


2.375.  JB: Nop, no we donít, um


2.376.  AW: Products


2.377.  JB: It was something we, we probably, as I say, the farmers market issue, hadnít come up, the local food, we were really doing as much as we could locally, and that was why we were going to do the internet site, and you donít know where that would have lead you, but we, we had our, EU licence number, we got that fairly early, because we were one of the few people actually producing pigs and products and selling them, once youíre not selling them out of your farm shop, you have to have an EU licence number, if you look on any dairy bottle, or pack of butter, youíll see an oval sign with, which will say, UK and a number, and err, our EH, environmental health guy, the EHO came out and he said, Iím sorry, although youíre small youíve got to have these special labels printed and youíve got to have an EU number, and we went, oh,  took a deep breath and err, the labels alone were about seven hundred pounds, and um, we thought well if weíre going to do this, we, we, we knew get on, and we do cook meat as well, as well as raw and itís part of, you know, the, youíve got to prove that you, due diligence, that youíre producing all these products, in this manner, and that youíve taken every hazard analysis point of, into care, and this was before they bought in that cook meat licence


2.378.  AW: So itís a kind, is it a quality assurance


2.379.  JB: Yeah, itís a hazard, I mean now they call it a HACCP, Hazard Analyse, Analysis, Critical Control Point, and itís been brought in, more, and everybody, now, in the food industry has to do that, and, and, have done that exam, since the outbreak of food poisoning in Scotland


2.380.  AW: So is that just because youíre a, a retailer or that because youíre a producer


2.381.  JB: Thatís because youíre dealing with food, youíre a food handler, first of all you have


2.382.  AW: So if you were selling to wholesalers and you didnít do the butchering


2.383.  JB: If you were selling whole pigs


2.384.  AW: You wouldnít need it


2.385.  JB: I donít think youíd need it, no, I donít thing youíd need it, youíd probably need to do basic hygiene, or something like that, you, you may have to do it, if you were doing all your own transport you probably would because youíve got to be able to produce documentation, to say that, this pig come, into this shop, and it, was, an, an acceptable temp, temperature, i.e. four degrees, umm, then it went into your fridge, which is monitored, regular, and it only runs, at between two and four degrees and that at every, and then when you take the pig out it was cut, and everything you do, in your touching of that product, is been, as, youíve checked that thereís no danger areas where you could, make everybody else


2.386.  AW: And thereís an inspection regime for that, is there


2.387.  JB: Yes there is, yeah, and now they come out and they, they err, do your licence, at least once a year, and they go through all your written paperwork, you have to fill forms out, when I do the black pudding of the pate, you, you put the date, and the product, how, exactly what type it is, umm, what time you put it in the cooker, what time you took it out, what the internal temperature that was, thatís  itís reached, umm, over seventy, or is it sixty eight degrees


2.388.  AW: And what do you think about that, that scheme and that regulation, do you think thatís good


2.389.  JB: I do think itís good, because funnily enough, we did it before anyway, before it was written, because, weíd moved from farming, into a new industry, and we were, terrified of getting anything wrong, itís a big responsibility to suddenly, although Iíd always, done, you know, home cooking, and Iíd grown, and I think, the benefits of the dairying days, benefit me, because then you have the milk, err, testing, likely come round, and your dairyís got to be spotless and they check your equipment, so, all those things, probably were locked away, and you, you donít, basic hygiene, youíd, youíd done that, umm, so I think we had those thinks, but also, they also made us realise how important those issues were, and we used to monitor, our first fridge, cuase we were frightened it might brake-down, we used to monitor it anyway, and err, I always tested the temperature of the pate, because I, Iíd read in, things like the, your, the Meat Traders Journal and things like that, about somebody, being in trouble for, selling something that was unfit for human consumption,  and, or it, some, we stopped making pate at one point because of it, because there was an outbreak, and I thought, oh my goodness, Iím not going to do that, you know, and then I found it was because they were making the pate, in a big, like container, and then pouring it into, dishes to set, umm, and of course you, if the dishes werenít sterile and there was any bacteria in it, thatís how it happened, but we donít we cook it in the pot, that itís actually in, and it stays in that pot until itís sold, so that way, youíve eliminated that, your not moving it around


2.390.  AW: Um


2.391.  JB: Sorry, I get a bit carried away


2.392.  AW: Thatís alright, some farmers are concerned about, err, sterling, the exchange rate, umm, I donít know if thatís something you have an opinion about, and of course thereís the euro, do you think joining the euro would be good for farming, maybe itís not something


2.393.  JB: I donít


2.394.  AW: Impacts you


2.395.  JB: I donít really know a lot, I keep, you know, look, reading bits and pieces, my gut feeling is no, but my, I havenít got a well educated feeling cause I havenít got, I really havenít read enough about it, but I just feel, that, looking at the issues that affect us, and have affected us through BSE, through foot and mouth, if, if they get it, and something goes wrong, umm, itís all, all, quiet and nothings much about it, and err, we hear, we do, we are, itís like I said earlier, we are a very law abiding country, pretty well, you get the odd person, that doesnít comply, and thatíll happen in any industryís, a lift will fall on somebody because they havenít had safety in whatever, but I think, we do as a rule comply by most, you carry the letters of the law out, whereas some other European partners donít, and itís very hard to, police controls on a great big place like that, itís such a big, you know, you hear stories of somebody collecting eggs in Poland, and their paper work all comes from Demark, and umm, you know from a lorry driver or something, and they say, whereís the paperwork and they say, oh youíre picking it up in Poland, and Poland, the paper work from Denmark, you know, sound it sound as if itís all come from there, so, traceability on a large scale and, you know


2.396.  AW: Thatís something youíre concerned about, is it


2.397.  JB: Oh yes, yeah, it is


2.398.  AW: Yeah


2.399.  JB: It is, and thatís why the imports, you know, I mean, we, we have no control, itís such a large area, when youíre importing meat in from, from goodness, well, you donít know


2.400.  AW: Would you like to see restrictions on imports


2.401.  JB: Oh I would, Iíd ban them, oh no, I think, they have, I mean itís just horrendous, what comes in here, I mean, you have all this dried meat and goodness knows where it comes from, but also you have, err, pork coming into this country, for processing, and then itís processed in, I donít know, Liverpool or Manchester, and itíll say on the label, packed in the UK, and the consumer picks it up, and thinks oh, UK, you know, or produced in the UK, itíll even say on some, well it might be produced as a product in the UK, but itís all imported meat, so the poor housewives, theyíre thinking sheís buying British meat, or a product thatís been made from British meat, the labelling is the worst thing in the world, it just drives me mad


2.402.  AW: Well this, this leads onto umm, quality assurance schemes


2.403.  JB: Umm


2.404.  AW: Umm, do you


2.405.  JB: We arenít in one


2.406.  AW: You arenít in one


2.407.  JB: Because when we started there werenít really any, you know, and, umm, so that was why we had this err, this little, Iím free, sticker and err, then later on, we had a particular design on the letter head up there, to, to, make our product

2.408.  AW: Hum, hum, right


2.409.  JB: So, had, our own, logo if you like


2.410.  AW: Had you, have you considered joining any schemes, I mean, I donít, I donít know how far


2.411.  JB: Not really


2.412.  AW: you are from organic production


2.413.  JB: No, I think if we had more ground then we would, it would be the organic road weíd go down, err, but unless you, you know, unless you can grow some cereal yourself, if your using a lot of straw, you canít even get enough, thereís not organic, enough organic straw out there, to supply everybody, even people that are organic, sometimes have to use non-organic straw for bedding, so, thatís why we havenít, we just have stayed as we are really, because were small scale, we deal with our customers, we can tell them exactly what we do, and why we do it


2.414.  AW: Youíve got the sign up there, do you still have advertise in the, in the press, you mentioned you once advertised


2.415.  JB: Occasionally we do, we tend to support local things, umm, local schools, Iíve got a letter there I must reply to, you know, in there umm, fundraising events, or giving them a raffle or something like that, and it tends to be word of mouth, more than anything else, and it, itís the product, the product we rely on, the product we rely on to really sell itself, and err, sometimes, we just, weíre struggling to cope, Christmas we just, and there they are, ringing up and saying, do you want to advertise, and weíre saying we can not do any more, we canít sell another, weíre, you know


2.416.  AW: Do you think if there was a local, err, assurance scheme, that you would join that


2.417.  JB: Well, weíre, umm, I think probably, yes we would, I think if there was a local, I mean this is where this food group will come down the line of, and the Thames valley farmers markets, so we can get an Oxfordshire, you know, so that people really know,  and little places are inspected and everybody knows and thatís where Iím hoping that this, Oxfordshire Food Group will, err, benefit them


2.418.  AW: Now, umm, Iím sure, I donít know if you read the, the recommendation of the food and farming commission, but Iím sure youíre aware of it, umm, about switching from production to environmental subsidies, what, what do you think about that


2.419.  JB: I think theyíre good, I mean, I donít, I donít, umm, weíve never had a subsidy, we had one once for a cow, you used to be able to get one for a suckler cow but, even when we were doing the beef sometimes we were so busy, we didnít send the form in, in time, and we just, but, you know, if we were making enough money, if youíre making a profit you donít need the subsidies, and umm


2.420.  AW: Would you like to see them abolished


2.421.  JB: Yes, I think, a proper price for the proper product, you produce is how it should be, Iíd, Iíd, I donít know quite how, I donít know enough about the, how it works with the, seeds and I really, itís a knowledge gain thing, because itís so long since my dad was in it, umm, I donít thing he had subsidies when he was in it


2.422.  AW: Do, what, how do you feel about, umm


2.423.  JB: I think it needs a complete rethink really, maybe the EU thing and all that, I mean I must admit Iíd voted to go in it, but I think thatís it, itís all, itís too big, you canít, how do you manage something so big as that, all these other countries with different systems, different costs, you know, I think weíre, we are very different in this country because weíre not joined on to anybody else really, no, so, umm, I think it needs to be a complete rethink really


2.424.  AW: Okay, let me ask you about this, farmers always have opinions about umm, about supermarkets, what role do you feel supermarkets


2.425.  JB: Deftly silence, well sadly I think, this has been part of the, has been part of the downfall, really, of our, fabric of society, but on the other hand, how the heck are you going to feed everybody and supply everybody, because weíre not the same amount of people living in the same density as we were when the old fashion farming system was in place, itís a very difficult to, itís going to be a problem to get it right


2.426.  AW: Do you think supermarkets, umm, do they have much control in, over farmers


2.427.  JB: Complete, they, I mean, it was even worse a few years ago, thatís really why everybody was, they say what theyíre going to pay, or you know, if you could get on a contract, some people did it on contract, I mean, one of my friends who is no longer in, she had a contract, and even they gave up with a very well known supermarket, you know, and


2.428.  AW: What were they supplying


2.429.  JB: Pork, yup, and theyíd been with them, and there, there pigs were all completely additive free it was a err, umm, minimal disease, theyíd never had any diseases on their farm


2.430.  AW: do you know why, do you mean, that the supermarket gave up on them, or that they gave up on the supermarket


2.431.  JB: No, they, they gave up with producing pork because of loosing money, so if youíre supplying one of the major supermarkets, and you still loosing money, this is what I was saying earlier, itís, thereís no control, itís, youíve got to be able to re-invest, whether your pigs are outside, whether theyíre inside, things wear out, as long as youíve got livestock, itís like clothes, it wears out, so youíve, youíve got to be able to make enough money, to re-invest, new buildings, new, so on, umm, and make some money, and have a holiday, and all those normal things that most of us really want, and have a car, and you know, but you, a lot of things like that, you, you, just thereís not enough, thereís not enough money, people have lost, billions, big farmers, you think what we lost on, just, you know, seventy breeding sow herd, and theyíve got seven sows or something, you know, a thousand sows and, itís err, pretty frightening, eventually, you know people just have there, thatís it, so supermarkets play, such a tremendous role, because most people, or have paid and are still paying, most people, go to the supermarket, and buy most of their meat, it might not be in the size of a joint of meat, I stood by a lady in the supermarket last week, horrific, horrified at the bill, at the end, but everything she bought was prepared and packed, now there are going to be people that have got to buy and are going, and itís going to go more that way if anything with more of us working, both partners working, but, you know, thatís process, whether itís processed or whether itís a lump of meat, itís still come from somewhere, itís either been imported, been manufactured here, but those raw ingredients to the person whose produced those in the first place, however theyíve been produced, theyíve got to get a fair price for it, you know, and they havenít been getting a fair price for it and I think, itís like I said earlier, itís trying to produce, cheap food, and you cannot, itís a living product whether itís growing barley, or whether itís an animal, itís a living, organism, you canít, you cannot, you know itís going to grow, and if it grows at a natural rate, itís going to grow slowly, whoeverís doing it has got to make a living, and theyíre not.


2.432.  AW: Here you have a butcherís shop, etc, so you set the price, but, are, are you in control, do you think you have enough control in setting the price, what determines the price that, you charge


2.433.  JB: What determines the price on it, is our costings, umm, when we first started, we didnít charge enough, because we were so pleased to not be loosing money, I mean it was, that just shows you, how the, the change over, is, we didnít charge over, and some people were saying, oh no, you should, you know, they, they sort of think, there was something wrong, because of it, and of course, we hadnít then, probably, envisaged all the costs, because you donít, you donít really, I canít, thereís always hidden costs, that you perhaps arenít going to find until, down, down the line a little bit, you buy something and its great and then you realise you got to have a newer better one, because of, regulations and everything like that


2.434.  AW: I, just an aside, are you a member of the RSPCAís umm, animal friendly, I canít remember what itís called actually


2.435.  JB: No, no, we, we never really bothered to join any of it, because if people come and if they had a problem then, you know, before the foot and mouth, if somebody said do you want to see the pigs, well, weíd let them, you know, and that was it, we donít, we havenít, since foot and mouth, and umm, one day this lady said oh, could we see the pig, yeah, so, and then she said, oh weíve just been to so-and-soís farm, looking at their pigs, and I sort of went, [draws breath], because pigs do, you can transmit a disease with pigs, quite easily, and I think that was a lot of pig, a lot of us as pig farmers worries when pigs first went outside, that were, you know, were we going to have problems, and I think thatís the most positive thing, of all in the industry, that the pigs went outside and they stayed healthy and well, and we had foot and mouth, so bad in lots of herds, and it didnít get into the, the outside pig herds, which is, it was just wonderful, for all of us, I think even, whether you had one pig or a hundred, because obviously once animals are outside then they are more susceptible to whatís around them, and itís probably because cause, you know, theyíre outside and theyíre, built up their natural immunity, to a lot of things and I think, generally weíve probably got a healthier pig herd than weíve ever had, because theyíre, in more natural environment, so I like to see, you know, I like to see them outside and that


2.436.  AW: Right, weíve got ten minutes, Iím just going to ask you, itís a bit of a, umm, about, err, one of the things weíre interested in is, will farmers be leaving the farm to their, or will their children, if they have them, be umm, carrying on farming, umm, what do you think will happen here


2.437.  JB: Well I would, if youíd ask me that, three or four years ago, I would have said no, you know, we will do this as long as it, supports us and then, it will be our pension, and that is how Andy and I viewed it until Ali, we just viewed it as umm, a, making our own living, bringing up the family, now, things have changed really because one, although heís not always in a good mood about it, and wishes he doesnít work here, but that is perfectly natural thing, umm, I think he can see a future in it, he can see a future and


2.438.  AW: This is your son whoís the butcher is it


2.439.  JB: This is James, our son, he works in the shop, and, umm, I think, when, when, weíre just trying to get this field fenced and weíll get some beef again, you know, heíd like, heíd, heís sort of, oh, when can we get it done, heís got that, he remembers us having cattle before, and heís got that, little sparkle there and in a way we need to move on quite quickly now, so that he can, see, us doing more things he likes and err


2.440.  AW: So you think itís possible it will stay in the family and youíll, James maybe


2.441.  JB: Yes, I think it will but only, if, we carry on down the diversification road, and umm


2.442.  AW: So are you going to go into beef, it sounds like


2.443.  JB: We will go back to beef, yeah, we will, we just to get this fence field now, cause itís my field now, which is really nice


2.444.  AW: Thatís something else you would sell in the shop here, presumably


2.445.  JB: Yeah, cause we used to sell our own and now we, we um, sell some local and we get the abattoir to source us some local grass feed beef, you know, old fashioned farming really, thatís really what weíre going to


2.446.  AW: How many cattle do you think youíll keep on that


2.447.  JB: Well we used, used to keep about nine, um, which more or less was nearly a yearís supply, because there was different sizes, and then you know, we probably use a bit more beef than that, but there is, I think thereís the opportunity to probably rent land and finish them off, so we could start them off here, it would be nice to have, I mean I want to have all my own beef back again and be able to sell it, cause, itís much more rewarding when youíve, you have reared it, and itís been all your own, itís a different, I love cattle, I mean its in my, itís, goes back too far, but err, we couldnít do it before, as I say, cause the field needed fencing and it wasnít our field, and weíre talking quite a lot of money to re-fence everything, whereas now itís, Iíve inherited it, so I can actually, you know, be able to save up for the fence, so we canít have a new fence, weíll have to fence the field, you know, but thatís what itís like all the time, you just think, oh Iíll do this and then you need a new mincer but you donít mind if, if youíre growing and itís, and thereís a, a, a goal at the end of it, and obviously, with children, itís nice to think, possibly you know, at least one, might umm, cause he believes in it so much, he remembers, they, and they, theyíre very aware of, of, err, the reality of growing up, and things going wrong, and I can remember James saying I hate this farm, I hate this farm, I can never understand, why did you and dad give up good jobs, because we had really good jobs, and both had a car, you know, umm, a professional wage each, you know, and that was the only reason we could start the farm, was because weíd saved all our money when we worked for other people, to buy the livestock and you know, put the buildings up, and err, I mean, I can particularly remember these sort of, they couldnít understand why on earth weíd done it, you know, which is understandable, when they havenít had what they want for their birthday or


2.448.  AW: So heís enthusiastic now about farming, is he


2.449.  JB: Yeah, yeah, yeah, and especially, knowing, you know, whatís in it, Iím not sure if heíd, I think heíd, especially he would be more interested in the marketing and, and, oh, oh, seeing somebody do more of the, like he does now, I donít think, heíll help when, when we need him, you know, if youíve got to move pigs or something like that, but heís not, heís not out there everyday looking, different to me, when my, when my dad was farming I was the one who was up in the morning, doing the cattle, really into the animal side of it, umm, umm, but I think, you know


2.450.  AW: So you think he might, go into farming, but your


2.451.  JB: Yeah,yes


2.452.  AW: But youíre not quite sure


2.453.  JB: Not quite sure, I think heíd want it to stay it as it is, you know, with some help, and, make sure itís all done, how it wants to be done, and you canít, problem is, you can not do anything, yourself, and youíve almost got this point, well we were in the point where the shop was starting to do well, and we couldnít go anywhere, you couldnít go, Sunday weíd close and try and catch up on everything, but you were working all day in the farm, then youíd going out into the farm, youíre our there in the dark, trying to do everything, and my husband and I, were just, were, weíre like zombies, you know, so youíd got to be, youíve got to be big enough to be able to have some help, so that you can actually have a day off, or, a holiday even, you know, so itís very difficult to get through that change over process


2.454.  AW: Okay, last question. What do you think, the, what do you think the, the publics image is of farmers


2.455.  JB: I think, err, especially after foot, tremendously sympathetic I think, generally, and, umm, pro-British, where everybody, I think, is very much, for, weíll say everybody, thereís going to be a certain sector, that, probably, like I might say I donít read certain things that donít affect me, generally I think, we have the public on our side, and they want, they want quality, the want food, and they would rather have, one, well people say to us, theyíd rather have a little bit less, but they know, where it is, itís origins and itís safe, because, you know, I wasnít well off, but I was very concerned about my children and what we ate, and thatís what, sort of flicked us off, on, if you like


2.456.  AW: Do you think the public have a realistic image of farming and farmers


2.457.  JB: Umm, realistic, fairly realistic I think, I think, some of it is, itís, itís almost like a double, family farms they probably understand and can work with, when they see, very large estates, and very few people, and probably big shooting parties, and all the posh cars, and, that, I think thatís, that does us a, because they tend to almost slot you into that box, and I was at a farmers market one day, and umm, Iíve got a little broacher showing where I supply, and umm, I was showing the lady the photograph of me doing the black-pudding, and umm, talking about it


2.458.  AW: Did you make that leaflet yourself


2.459.  JB: It was, it was just, just a, one of those folders, you slip the things in and I took, like cuttings, I had Helen Peacock come out, and, cause she wanted, to be sure I made this black pudding, come out and watch me make it, and then she went to several restaurants, I mean, she had it in a restaurant, thatís how she knew about it, and err, there was this article, and it showed the different restaurants we supplied, and thereís this one Fallowfield Country House Which is a, and this lady, sort of, [huffing sounds from JB], she was very nice and then she said, oh you donít live in that big house do you, you know, and so obviously, suddenly she, almost changed because, it was, and I said to her, no, I said, we, we just supply them, you know, but it, youíve got this problem which, can almost divide people, of, you know, the very rich land owners, gentry, gentlemen farmers and, you know, the good guys and the bad guys almost, and I think when they, see a programme perhaps, on the television, of somebodyís, thatís had thousands and thousands and thousands in subsidies, and theyíre rolling around and their kids all go to private schools, and their children canít, and this is something I feel quite strongly about, you know, itís, err, if youíre lucky and you can go to one, and you can earn the money, and you go out, itís no good people quibbling about things and then, driving around in two posh cars and sending their children, it doesnít do us any good at all, because thatís such a small percentage, you know, you, itís a double, double sided really I think, so, sympathyís of the, to the working farmer and extra-ordinary, and the people will go, you know, and help for them, they want you to, umm, they want you to do well, theyíre really please, like customers of ours, that have been with us from the very beginning, they say, oh well youíve worked so hard, you deserve this, you know, Jane, go and have a holiday, you know, when my mum died and things like that, I had cards from them and, tremendous, really, they become, theyíre not just a customer, theyíre not just a customer, theyíre not the general public, theyíre, weíre, the people, like people you work with, they become your friends and your, you know, community


2.460.  AW: And you, and you have that direct contact with them


2.461.  JB: Oh


2.462.  AW: Farmers markets


2.463.  JB: Yeah, yeah


2.464.  AW: And the shop


2.465.  JB: And the shop, yeah, and I think, perhaps itís something that used to be there years ago, you see, and itís, itís gone, thatís again


2.466.  AW: And that, so that, that sounds very important to you


2.467.  JB: Oh, it is, it is, itís very important, and I think umm, itís the whole, thatís why with the farmers markets, I feel itís important, that theyíre kept within the town centres, as much as possible, because although it might be as difficult as can be and it might, be not very environmental friendly having all these, vehicles come in, and you donít want them parking there, weíve got to make the product safe, and youíve got to be able to ensure that itís kept safe, so if we could keep vehicles on site, thatís the absolute, most important, we canít always do that, because of certain laws, but we need to be in the centre of the towns to try and, you know, this whole community and the local issues I think itís, itís all, part of, itís all part of the same thing isnít it really, umm, and again, like thatís where, youíre going to get the support from people if they, weíre all the same, at the end of the day, weíre all only people arenít we, we all come in the same and g out the same, so, thatís where you get your support I think, yes, is that it

2.468.  AW: Yeah, yup


2.469.  JB: Thatís about my feelings


2.470.  AW: Yes


2.471.  JB: I get a bit carried away


2.472.  AW: Itís fine


2.473.  JB: They laugh at me because, when I meet people and they come into the shop, and umm, theyíll say, oh, why do you do this, and I say, donít, and James is going to go, donít ask mum, sheíll go off on a trip, you know, because, I think most thinks weíve done, weíve really believed in what weíre doing it, and err, well everything, and, like, if itís making sausages for coeliacs  or, if you love sausages and youíre not allowed to have a sausage with flour, you know, so itís really, really nice, if you make those things and if, if youíre going to make them, you might as well make something special and something nice, you know, but I drive everybody mad, because they think, oh God, Janes come in the shop, this customers going to be here for half an hour and we havenít served them, you know, theyíre trying to serve them and Iím yapping on about, how I made the pate or something, you know


2.474.  AW: But that sounds very important to you the customer relationship and


2.475.  JB: Oh it, it is, because I think, well itís everything isnít it, if, if youíve no faith in each other whether youíre a buyer or a seller, and, and customer and itís the same with us with our feed rep., or, that, I was brought up in that sort of um, well I suppose itís caring about each other, a bit iní it, really, you know, youíve, youíve some old lady had rang up for coal and she couldnít afford it, dad would take it regardless and heíd know that, you know, that she would pay them when she could, or whatever, and that, something, and my granny when she had the shop, you know, you grow, you, I grow up in very much a, a local environment, and umm, you know sadly, once youíd got supermarkets all the village shops closed and there were about four in this village, in Hanney, in Hanney, at least, yeah, about four, and thereís one community shop now, you know, sadly I used to do a lot in there, and everyday go in and take meat, but I donít have time anymore, I just canít do it, and so I donít do that job as well as Iíd like, umm, you know, then of course, youíve got you own family, and mum and dads ill and using, and thatís when it becomes hard because youíre still trying to, do all these jobs, and you canít service everything as good as youíd like to, but, I do think itís, I do think itís one of the most important things we do in life really, weíve lost, thatís whatís lost and thatís why everybodyís running round falling out with one another and, community, isnít it really, so, maybe we, you know with the farmers markets and all those things and the social structures, thatís why I think somebody like Suzy Olenshlarger, whoís working in Oxford County Council, I mean, sheís tha only one I know really well, thereís lots of other ladies working on all, and men, working on different things, like how people on Beansfield could perhaps, benefit from, more local food, itís a big issue, I mean, I, I fell thatís more than what Ben Gill says to me, thatís more important, that I perhaps, even if I only have time to read the newsletter and what theyíve done, umm, maybe itís nothing, it doesnít affect me, but it might be something one day that I meet somebody that, you know thatís more important, I think, before we loose it completely


2.476.  AW: Okay, great, thank-you


2.477.  JB: Iím sorry, I do rabbit on


2.478.  AW: No you donít, no, thatís very valuable what youíve

Return to top of page