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Small-scale Farming in Wales

pig

Last week, I went on a trip to Northern Wales and stayed on a small farm. It was a beautiful, peaceful place. The intent of my vacation was more for hiking and sightseeing, but I was very curious about the little farm. I wandered around a lot and asked (too many) questions.

They didn’t grow crops, but they did keep some sheep, chicken and pigs, which provided food for their family and their guests. While I didn’t indulge, I thought it was kind of cool (in a weird way) that the people I travelled with basically got to meet their breakfast.

Although I knew the ultimate fates of these animals, I have to say, as far as farm animals go, they had a pretty good life. The chickens and sheep had proper free-range roaming: lots of space, green grass, fresh water (not like these poor chickens). The pigs had stys that were quite large, and they seemed pretty happy. I even made friends with the sow (see the photo).

I wondered, is this so hard? Is it that hard to give animals a happy life, even if in the end they will be eaten? From the top of the hill at the farm, all I could see was miles and miles of similar farms. I thought back to the farms I remember seeing when I lived in the States, and while I’m sure nice farms exist, most I remember seeing were horrendously crowded. I know these exist in the UK as well, but I have yet to see one.

I guess what it comes down to is our massive consumption of animal products. Farming is hard work. The man who cared for the animals said it was basically a full time job for him, just for their small farm. It requires a lot of land to feed people and with our booming population. Is it even possible?

Photo: © Jeannie Moulton

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