Sunday, 24 June 2012

Not quite mid summer, hopefully


 



BBC Landward Programme and native Shetland wool
The BBC Landward programme came to the farm recently to find out about native Shetland wool. There’s been a remarkable turnaround in the fortunes of the natural fibres industries. For a couple of hundred years Shetland wool and its knitted products gained an increasing prominence as a truly world class fibre. With the development of oil-based synthetic textiles woollen goods became the object of scorn for metropolitan comedians and the various bogus heralds of design and fashion.
How this has changed. Wool which was often dumped after clipping now covers the cost of shearing and sometimes leaves a surplus. It has a long way to go to get back to the value it had 50 years ago. Then the wool clip would pay a shepherd’s wage and some.
At Uradale we decided to try having our own Organic wool spun and dyed so it could be sold direct to customers. I believe that there is always scope for ‘honest products’ – the ones which are what they are. Trying to get this across to TV crews desperate for new angles and faced every day with hype can be rather wordy. However I hope some of simpler aspects of the message got through. Broadcast is scheduled for October to coincide with Shetland Wool Week.  http://www.shetlandwoolweek.com/


Organic Inspection
Another visitor to the farm was the Organic inspector - a nice man with a job to do. I swear every time we get inspected yet another form has become essential. How good the British are at the creation of self-perpetuating bureaucracies. Farming organically this far north is damned difficult, but we are cut no slack. Exactly the same stringencies are applied to us with less than 100 ‘growing days’ per year as a farmer in Home Counties of England with more than 300 ‘growing days’ per year. It is now just past midsummer and grass is only just starting to come. The ‘Archers’ cut their silage at least a month ago!

heath spotted orchids are flowering in abundance at the moment
Sustainability
The Rio Summit has been and gone. I can recall the first one and the excitement of thinking the political leaders of the world really had understood ‘sustainable development’. The sense of disappointment I now feel is akin to that felt for the Blair years. Sustainable use of resources is not difficult to understand, it’s not like space travel or religion. My 4 year old could put these people to shame. The debate may be concentrated on wealth and power at the moment, but the wind will change.