"I could never do a office job,” says Crickhowell farmer
Anne Rees’s pedigree herd of South Devon beef cattle graze on rich pasture in the Black Mountains above Llanbedr. One “beast” a week goes for slaughter in Talgarth before being hung for 28 days, as is traditional, and ending up on the meat counter in Cashells butcher in Crickhowell High Street.
“We have been supplying Cashells with beef since the mid-90s,” says Anne, “They take about half of all the beef we rear. We make sure we produce a beast which is right for them. Traditional butchers like Cashells hang meat properly, and they like a bit more fat on it for a better cooking. The South Devons are known for marbling the meat particularly well, with fat running through the muscle, which makes the meat tender and gives it flavour.”
“I only eat our beef”, Anne says, “because I know what it has been eaten and how it has been reared.”
Ann’s 80 breeding cows live out on the pasture in all but the worst weather and are fed on clover and feed crops grown on the farm in winter. The beef stock are brought inside, and corn-fed for two weeks before being sent for slaughter at Talgarth.
“It’s better for the animals to go to Talgarth,” says Anne, “they walk off the trailer, and it’s all done quite quickly. They are not hanging round in the market and being transported all over the place.”
But are there any benefits to her as a farmer from selling locally? “We do get a bit more for our meat by cutting out the middle man,” Anne says. She also rears Welsh lamb on the hills above Crickhowell, but their meat goes for export because “they like smaller cuts of lamb on the continent.”
So, would Ann recommend farming as a way of life for others? “It’s a way of life. Yes. It is a good life. It’s a hard life. And you don’t do it for money. You just do it for the joy of going around your stock and thinking ‘they look good’. I wouldn’t like an office job. No.”
Article and photographs by Tim Jones, As You See It Media
Anne Rees: beefProducer
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