Thursday, June 23, 2016

Not So Fond Memories of Down on the Farm

Facebook can be a strange media that hits you with the modern as well as bits of yesteryear and serves it in one big soup.

So, for example, I have a feed from the first newspaper I worked on. I usually ignore it but from time-to-time something will pique my interest.

When you live in America, you can fall into the trap of thinking Britain is the kind of place where people play cricket all day, ride bicycles with big baskets and say nice things to each other. My feed from the Western Morning News reminds me otherwise.


On the mean streets of Devon and Cornwall, some guy has been busy attacking his wife with a hammer in Painton, while some other guy has been busy goosing his flock of sheep on Dartmoor - that article didn't say if he was sheeping his geese.

Cars on the Tamar Bridge may be killing mussels and the World Dad Dancing Championships are returning to Devon.

It amazes me to think how seriously we used to take these kinds of things when I worked on the newspaper. Maybe old Millennial Me would have had a lot more fun than Back then Me.

Out of curiosity, I read the farming pages. It's a well-known fact that nobody apart from farmers reads the farming pages, that farming correspondents are invariably devoid of all social skills and they smell of manure and no reporter ever liked to do this job.

I still shudder at the thought of being sent one year to the Holsworthy Show to report on farming results. Covering agricultural shows involves a whole different language and it wasn't one that I wanted to learn.

Here's an extract from a recent Western Morning News farming report.

The interbreed terminal sire progeny group championship then went to the Blue Texel group from Rhys Cooke, with the Suffolk trio from Chris Holmes in reserve spot.
In the well supported pig section the interbreed title went to Hampshire Gilt Blewett Precious 76 from J E Sage, with the Large Black leader, Finnington Maltida from Jack Haywood following up in reserve.
Holsworthy


It raises a lot of questions, right? Such as what's a well-supported pig. Is it a pig with a large piggy bank? And who's interbred? The animals or the farmers?


The Holsworthy experience was a thoroughly miserable one. I had to drive for about an hour-and-half on manure-splattered roads in the driving rain to stand in a foul smelling barn wearing my undersized city slicker reporter's mac in deep-in-the-heart-of nowheresville.

When I finally got to interview a farmer he looked at me in a strange way as manure built up on my shiny shoes and my notepad tumbled into the mud.

"So what make of cow is this?"

The farmer looked distinctly unimpressed. I figured he might even  be a breeder but I didn't want to ask.

"Can't you see that's a cross limousin steer, not a cow? You're not from these parts"

At that point, I was rather glad I wasn't from those parts. Had I been from those parts I might also be sized up a prized cow. I had no idea what a limousin steer was, although I was badly in need of a limousine to get me out of the poo.

I had blanked out the ideas of agricultural shows for decades but after reading the report I was left in a state of bewilderment that there are still grizzled old farming correspondents on rural newspapers who are going into work every day to write this slurry.


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