This morning was even more of a frantic rush, than usual;
I completed the morning milking & other chores in almost record time (including treating an unsympathetic, wriggling, stamping Morganna) & then rushed around the house like a one-armed paper hanger (where does that expression come from?!), tidying & cleaning & tackling Yet Another Mound of washing up prior to a house call from Alfred & Co’s rep, Steve.
Alfred & Co sell Technogel ice cream equipment & I am booked in to attend their practical day in Retford in a few days’ time. Steve was scheduled to be in the area & offered to call in to discuss the equipment & its’ prices, as well as looking at some machinery we may part-exchange or sell in favour – if possible – of getting some single-phase replacements (unfortunately we don’t have three-phase electricity on the ffarm; & it would be cost-prohibitive to bring it here). I learned that Technogel do not manufacture single-phase machines (unlike the Corema company, which does); however Steve said we should consider retaining our existing equipment as we can always ‘grow into it’ which should save us money, in the longer term. So plenty more food for thought, today.
The meeting over, I hastened back to the milking parlour to thoroughly clean the room & equipment before grabbing a quick bite of (late) lunch & checking with Welsh Hook as to whether our pork was finally ready. It was; & to my dismay they wanted me to collect it the same day so I had shoehorn the trip into my already very busy schedule & hurry off to Haverfordwest. The journey took almost an hour and a half, owing to painfully dawdling traffic; I arrived at around 3.45pm & managed to collect six boxes containing pork, sausages & kid meat by 4pm.
The next task was to rush through the grey light of a gloomy evening down the A40 to Carmarthen in order to purchase a consignment of feed for the goats – I had literally only a day’s worth of food left & as tomorrow I had to wait in for the Hotpoint engineer I could not risk being unable to leave the Ffarm for the entire day, & running out of the goats’ favourite ‘munchies’. I got to the shop at around 4.45pm & the ever-helpful staff rapidly filled the back of the truck with the heavy sacks before I headed homewards once more.
I arrived home at around 5.40pm, expecting to find Boo waiting for me as we had arranged to meet at 5.30pm to travel to Carmarthen for a Food Producers’ Group meeting at the Mart; however, she was not there. On checking the Answerphone I discovered that she’d already left as I hadn’t been at home; so I rushed through the barns to complete the chores. Ater a quick change of clothes into something smarter & not with an accessory pack of hay, straw & baler twine I jumped back into my now extremely heavy truck & hastened back through the driving rain to collect Boo from Tesco in time to arrive at the Producers’ meeting for 7pm.
We got there literally in the nick of time; & as this was our first meeting we listened to the discussions with interest. I discovered there had already been some regular Cluster Groups for producers of specific foods; although I’m not yet formally in the marketplace, I would have welcomed the opportunity to contribute to any debate so that is a matter I’ll have to address. The main thrust of the evening’s discussion centred around Farmers’ Markets versus the Local Produce & Contintental Markets; it would appear it is not a ‘level playing field’. Also, our own Markets are hampered by lack of adverising opportunities: apparently the local Council will not allow any banners promoting them to be displayed – which is such a shame, as rather than helping local businesses which supply quality, healthy & often organic foodstuffs, it would appear the Council are not really willing to assist these markets achieve better publicity – & so bring in more revenue to the area to the benefit of all the retailers in the locality. Various ideas were suggested; & despite everyone’s frustrations there was a general confidence we can work together to improve the overall situation.
The meeting concluded at around 8.30pm; & after a chat over a cup of tea & slice of Bara Brith we returned to Tesco. Boo immediately returned home; but I remained behind, as I needed to stock up on a few minor essentials. The smaller local shops I’d normally use for such an activity were unfortunately now closed for the evening; but I could not miss the opportunity to restock with provisions having already made an additional, unscheduled journey with concern about wasting further fuel & time if I subsequently had to make yet another trip.
By the time I’d trawled around the massive superstore the hands of the clock were creeping relentlessly towards 10.30pm; so I drove home & then had the back-breaking task of unloading the car & putting my purchases away. Whilst I could not offload the feed sacks I still needed to get the pork into the freezer, with the dread of an extremely long night ahead sorting out the sausages we’d had made into different flavours by splitting them down into sufficiently small-sized packs for our use before I then froze them.
I was staggered (& literally did stagger) under the enormous weight of three of the six boxes; they were far, far heavier than I’d been expecting. Feeling rather surprised I lifted the lid one of the boxes & discovered to my dismay that rather than the long links of plump sausages I’d been expecting, the boxes were filled with massive loins & legs of vacuum-packed, salted pork – for which we had absolutely no use, whatsoever. I suspected that there had been a mistake in our order; & it was extremely lucky that we have our walk-in cold room in which I could store the meat overnight as in the morning I would need to contact Welsh Hook to determine what on earth had happened to our order.
By the time I’d frozen down the remaining boxes – thick, meaty chops & juicy joints, plus all twelve kilos of poor little Arfryn, the kid we’d kept to sample (but who had at least gone out with a ‘bang’, mounted happily on the back of one of his friends at the very last!) it was past midnight; so I suppose at least I hadn’t had to endure another hour of sausage selection before staggering up to bed. And so endeth another busy day, into which as ever I’d managed to sandwich an awful lot – even if there were no sausages involved, after all!