The secret life of cows
1st March, 2005
In intensive farming animals are viewed as units of production to be ground relentlessly through the system. Nothing could be more different at Kite’s Nest in the Cotswolds, where the livestock is actively engaged in deciding how the farm is managed.
Ever seen a happy farmer? It is rare that a smile cracks the glum mien of most farming pundits and practitioners. And you can hardly blame them, given modern agriculture’s perennial crop of bad news stories: BSE; Foot and Mouth; the ongoing exodus of 12 farmers from the land every day… Yet as a city-confined environmentalist, so deprived of direct contact with nature and food production that I call my compost bin worms a ‘herd’, farming seems an enviable way of life, one that utilises mind and muscles in a variety of tasks and skills, and which offers endless fascination and, yes, fun. Is this just the naiivety of a city dreamer romancing the hard business of commercial food production? No, not necessarily, as I recently discovered while on a visit to Kite’s Nest farm in the Cotswolds.
Kite’s Nest is farmed by the Young family: mother Mary, and her son Richard and daughter Rosamund. Within minutes of arriving, both myself and Jo, the photographer accompanying me, had huge grins on our faces as we were hurtled about the fields in a clapped-out old Range Rover driven by Rosamund. The now frail, but indomitable Mary was wedged with improvised hot-water bottles into the passenger...
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