In the course of my father’s illness and the multiple trips North to see him and try and manage what needs to be managed we have gotten to know the road rather too well, and various parts of it have reached landmark status for us, including my all time favourite Industrial Estate – yes, I have one – which goes by the marvelously twee and inappropriate (considering what it actually looks like) name of Honeypot Lane Industrial Estate. We have also had the thrill of watching the gradual progress of various sets of roadworks and the impact of the changing season.
One of these signs is when we start to see lambs starting to appear. I think it must be one of the foremost signs that winter is coming towards its end when little blobs of white gambling fluff start appearing. That said, off the A1 this year the eagle eyes of the Lovely Wife noted a single field with lambs before Christmas – early indeed. They are getting fat already so it looks like what might be a bit of a gamble on the weather has appeared to have paid off for this farm. However so far it just seems this one field in 250 miles of motorway, the other fields are still only full of fat sheep waiting to drop.
It is not doubt that lambs are cute, and it never fails to amaze me that these curious and active young animals turn into the plodding denseness of the adults before ending up in the pot. Because in the end that is where most of them are destined for. I have never flirted seriously with giving up meat, although there are some definitive positives to doing so if done well. I do not have any conflict with liking and animal and then eating them. Where I do have issues is with how well an animal is treated during its short life. It is horrifying to think of how animals have been treated, in some places and cases still treated, so badly. Thankfully the situation has improved and there are many places I have been to where the meat was local and could be seen still in animal form out the field at the back (as was the case with some particularly nice Durham lamb from a farm shop off the A66). They animals look healthy and well, and the meat was appropriately delicious – I don’t care whether there is actually a connect there or it is all in my head, and frankly I don’t care. Coming from a reasonably rural area when growing up it was always a bit matter of fact regarding livestock and where our meat came from which I know was not everyone’s experience. Sometimes it was more in my face then others – in particular the time we were on holiday on a farm and my parents were asked if they wanted some game. They said yes, and were a little taken aback when the farmer appeared with a couple of freshly shot rabbits and (an entirely illegally shot, as I now know) wild goose. My mother, never a shrinking violet, got stuck in while my Dad hid, and although she did not have a problem with the blood and guts she was heartily sick of plucking the bird, although the results were delicious.
Ethics are an individual thing and everyone needs to choose what fits their conscience and that includes campaigning for better conditions as this can always be improved. I am still eating meat and do not see myself going vegetarian any time soon. I’m going to be passing the lambs again this week, I hope they are enjoying themselves, shame they do not know the smile their antics bring to me.