Farm Diary

RAIN, rain and more rain '“ inches of it. Today (Sunday) is St Hilary's day, and is according to folklore the coldest day of the year, and if that is true we have little to complain about. The land at Plaistow is absolutely sodden, and walking anywhere on the farm is very difficult.

One does wonder how it will ever dry up again, sufficiently dry to bear cattle and machinery, but it does and always takes us by surprise.

Even my neighbour's sheep are making a mess in their fields, but I expect that there will be a correction, and it would be nice to have a dry March in order to get on with spring work, and get cows out early.

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Farming is in the news again '“ daily; and for all the wrong reasons. Animal welfare and production methods are in the spot-light, with various articles in the papers about organic pig production, and of course poultry production methods.

The big story of the week has been a series of prime-time TV programmes featuring on BBC 3 'Kill it, Cook it, Eat it', 'Jamie's fowl dinners', and of course the celebrity chef, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's 'Hugh's Chicken Run', which was screened last Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

The objective seems to be to bring to an end the 'cheap' chicken meat available in the shops and fast food outlets, and when the local retailer in 'Hugh's Chicken Run' stated that 97 per cent of their sales was standard chicken and only 3per cent of sales was free range chicken, it does show that retailers are not kidding when they say that the market demand is for cheap chicken.

For full feature see West Sussex Gazette January 16