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FEB. 2005 - Hilary Peters writes:

I have been in Cumbria, with Ann Young and Bob Shaw....Her Cameroon sheep and lambs are a joy

Ann lost ALL her acumulated wool in the recent hurricane. She can put up with this in her delight and relief that her animals suffered no long-term injury. Her polytunnels stood up to the 130 mile an hour gale better than her barn. She now has a mill prepared to spin for her. Her Cameroon sheep and lambs are a joy. They do not produce wool, so they might have a future as ornamental lawn mowers, but Ann cares more about the welfare of her animals than she does about profit or success. She would be extremely picky in choosing future owners.

Bob is crossing Merino sheep with Herdwicks to produce a luxury oatmeal coloured fleece. He is going to use them for conservation grazing on the slopes of Blencathra. Defra are offering hill farmers large sums to take their ewes off the tops, thereby disturbing the balance of vegetation. Bob predicts that in five years, they'll be offering even higher sums to put them back.

Seeing farming from the outside, I tend to think there is an overall policy of destruction and obedience to chemical companies.

Seen from the fells, it is more piecemeal. Drug barons rule, but it''s an uneasy sway, with many dissidents. There is always room for hope, specially when nature is on the side of the dissidents.