Today was Open Farm Sunday here in the UK. I took the younger two along to a local organic dairy farm to see how it all works. The weather was glorious and it was such a beautiful spot to spend an afternoon. Acres of the greenest countryside in every direction. Beautiful hedgerows, abundant wildlife of every description. I particularly loved the swallows speeding over the barns.
We did all the usual farm visit things - a tractor ride, watching the milking, seeing sheep shearing, eating ice-cream. The fact that the farm is organic makes a big difference I think. Naturally healthy animals, chemical free hay and silage, a balanced ecosystem with no predator wiped out with pesticide use. The milk they produce is of the best quality and goes to make Cheddar cheese. The male calves are apparently sent to another nearby farm where they're raised for beef.
It was a pleasure to see how well farming can be done, how much care and pride the owners have in their operation. It reminded me that the extra cost of organic produce is money well spent for several reasons. I know this is a bit of a rosy picture, and that the reality of production of dairy products and meat is by its nature pretty harsh. It was explained that many male calves are simply shot when they're born. I try and make sure the children know the true cost of the food they have, and other things as well. But for one afternoon in June it was all pretty blissful down on the farm.