Last time we explored our farm and herd’s links to the past and the more obscure uses we find for our cattle such as aiding academic research and providing museum exhibits. This time we thought we’d follow the trail of your money from when it comes into our hands, so you may see the similarly far-reaching positive effects it has. Our emphasis has always been on economic as well as environmental sustainability so this is something we devote much thought to - making the right choices and helping the right people.
You may be pleased to find out that your pound works very hard not only for us, but also other small British businesses from Hereford, to Hull, to the Hebrides! No farm is an island; picking the right suppliers is, to our mind, a vital part of the puzzle. Our suppliers are hand picked by us as people who are working as hard as we are to keep traditions alive and protect the environment. It’s not always the easiest or cheapest option but we feel it adds greatly to Rosewood’s value that goes far beyond good meat and benefits Britain’s economy and society.
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Two of the biggest expenses on most farms are feed and fertiliser, but as we produce all our own feed without artificial fertilisers, we don’t spend anything there. All animals require minerals however - deficiencies can make them very sick, very fast. Most modern livestock these days are fed ‘chelated’ minerals which undergo a process to make them more readily absorbed by the animals, supporting higher levels of production. There are concerns however about industrial chelating agents being very persistent in the environment, getting into waterways and tinkering with the minerals there. The traditional way around this problem was to put the minerals through a plant first to perform the chelation naturally. Seaweed is ideal for this, which is why it was so widely used as fertiliser and animal feed in the past, if available, and we are happy to stick with this tradition. Our certified-Organic seaweed is simply harvested, dried and milled by the Glenside Group - a small business owned & run by the Robertson family in West Lothian.
Shearing of the sheep is a vital annual task that is also usually carried out ‘in-house’ by Natalie but further processing of the fleece to make natural stuffing for handmade dolls and knitting yarns is carried out just up the road. The woollen industry was once a major part of the economy here in Yorkshire, employing thousands of people in mills across the county. Many are now sadly gone for good but Paul Crookes established the Halifax Spinning Mill, near Selby, to keep the tradition going. Paul had years of experience in the wool trade before establishing his own mill in 2009 on a redundant WWII airfield, from which the business takes its name. The mill is equipped with genuine refurbished 1900s machinery to carry out all tasks from washing the raw fleeces to spinning the finished yarn.
Halifax Spinning Mill
Another portion of our takings also stay within the county: despite tightening food hygiene and animal welfare regulations in recent years our local abattoir, Mounfield Family Butchers, still slaughters on site just a matter of yards from some of our grazing. Five generations of the Mounfield family have been butchers in Bubwith since they established the business in 1890. The small abattoir, located just behind the shop in the middle of the village, has a straw bedded lairage where the animals are allowed to stay overnight to calm down from the journey rather than being slaughtered straight from the lorry. As a farmer, knowing and trusting the people who handle and slaughter your animals is of paramount importance in ensuring high welfare and quality meat so supporting Mounfield’s is imperative for our peace of mind, and yours!
The local abattoir is important for the next step in the process, too. We like to use everything from the animal and make the most of what they produce, and this includes the hides, or skin, which must be collected as soon as possible after slaughter and cured with salt, here at the farm. The tanning process preserves the animal skins so they can be used for leather and rugs which is a specialist skill that used to be common in the UK. Today the vast majority of hides are tanned at the other side of the world in China and South America where environmental protection laws are less stringent, making the process far cheaper than here in the UK.
Holmes Halls Tannery
There are very few tanneries left in this country today, but one of them is located in our ancestral home of Sculcoates, by the River Hull. The company has been tanning here for 200 years and most of the hides from Old Hull area where our relation Richard Rose worked as a slaughterman would have travelled the short distance upstream by barge to reach the tannery. Today we take our cattle hides to Hull to be turned into cowhide rugs helping to continue the tradition, albeit in a small way, of the British tanning industry.
Our sheepskins can also be turned into luxurious rugs and to achieve this we send these to the only Organic tannery in the UK. Nicki Port operates this tannery on her smallholding in the Herefordshire countryside. Being organic, all tannery waste is processed through a reedbed filtration system. We see the whole process when we deliver the raw sheepskins of transforming the hides, which have spent the previous few years protecting the sheep from the elements, into soft, fluffy sheepskin rugs. The end product feels good, not only to touch but also in bumping up the value of sheep which improves welfare and supporting British tanning with the knowledge that rivers aren’t being poisoned in the process of furnishing our homes.
Combing at Organic Sheepskins Tannery
As well as keeping the traditional industries going we are also keen to encourage new sustainable businesses. Whilst the energy used to feed our animals comes via the grass from the sun, we do still need to power the fridge and freezers here on the farm to keep our meat fresh. We’d like to have our own wind turbine here on the farm, but for the time being we have to buy in our electricity. When we connected the farm to the mains in 2005 we signed up with Good Energy who only supply 100% renewable energy to the farm. The company generates its own wind and solar electricity but also buys power from thousands of smaller generators around the country. In recent years more and more of our neighbours have invested in wind & solar generation to supplement the income from farming, meaning that even the freezing of our beef helps the local economy.
A Rosewood pound works hard for Britain - it’s not just flung on the pile, there’s no Rosewood account in the Cayman Islands and the only bonus is to the environment!