Monday, 22 July 2013

Whaplode Drove Country Fayre

Vintage tractors complete with the characters that own them.
Convoys of these often pass the farm on the way to and from weekend shows.
Yesterday was the Whaplode Drove (once featured on Escape To The Country or some such show) Country Fayre. And fair play to the organisers. The show only started two years ago and is already an event to look forward to each year. What's more, it's free. You don't get much for free these days.

Sue and I had volunteered to help with the Smallholders Club stall, but first thing in the morning we had another job to do, for two rather big piglets had slept in the trailer and were due in at the abattoir between 8 and 9am. There was the small matter of putting in their ear tags first. This is usually no problem at all and, with the distraction of a little food, they never even seem to notice.
But not today! I don't know why, but these two pigs were just not having it. Every time I even lightly touched their ears, my action was greeted with a loud bark and a snap. I'm guessing the piglet's ears may well have been a little sore with sunburn.
Anyway, eventually each piglet had a metal ear tag just about hanging on to its ear and we were off. The abattoir was nice and quiet this morning, just one small trailer ahead of us with one sheep. That was good news, for reversing the trailer in front of a queue of experienced trailer towers is always a little daunting. Follow this with the stress of trying to get two stubborn pigs out of the trailer which they so steadfastly refused to enter the night before and the whole thing becomes something which fills me with anxiety.

Fortunately my favourite stockman was on hand to help. He gave me enough respect to let me have a go, but when my best efforts were met with total immovability, he stepped in and expertly lifted them by the back end so they had no choice but to virtually fall forwards. He then gently ushered them into the pen where they would spend their last day.
We waved goodbye and headed to the Country Fayre. This sounds a bit casual, but we are very conscious that we are taking an animal's life for its meat. Many people ask us how we can do this, which I find rather irritating. For most of these people would prefer to stick their head in the sand and not think about how their meat was reared, though they have all the information they need to suspect that mass produced cheap meat has some rather unsavoury hidden costs. And for the most part they have been conditioned to accept a very poor substitute for properly reared meat. Rant over!

We helped out as best we could as the stall, complete with goats, goslings and chickens and chicks, was set up. The club is still officially known as the Fenland Goatkeepers and Smallholders Club, but the Goatkeepers bit is somewhat a relic of the past. Don't get me wrong, several members still keep goats, but far fewer than keep pigs, chickens, ducks or even sheep.
The club stand was busy all day.
Most of the interest in our stall was from young families with children enthralled by the animals. Some were more wary than others, with one particular toddler most insistent on climbing in the cage with the goslings!

The animals were most popular with the kids.

It was good to see quite a few faces who we knew: our bee buddy, Elaine; our local swarm collector, who had a stall which we managed to completely miss; people from Sue's school; our neighbours; people who had bought pigs from us in the past.
In fact, we seem to know more people up here, with Fenland's rather thinly scattered population, than we did in London with its masses of people crammed in.
A most informative and interesting chat
with an old timer.
The show had everything you'd expect. Vintage vehicles, rides, music, craft stalls and hog roast.
Sadly, I missed the jelly throwing competition.

Skiffle band performing 'House of the Rising Sun'
Roll on next year. Maybe see you there.

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