When Great Grandad Ling bought Stanton Road Farm in the 1930s, livestock played a large part in keeping farm soils healthy, as well as producing eggs, milk and meat. Manure provided farms with fertiliser, and animals grazed the insect filled clover and grass leys that added nutrients back into the soil during the farm rotation.
We have lost some of this diversity in our farms as man-made chemicals and fertilisers have taken over from the natural alternatives. My father reminds me once in a while that we wouldn’t want to go back to long, hard days of pulling weeds by hand and carting muck. He has a point, but my generation of farmers are lucky. We are beginning to relearn the value of a partnership with the livestock, wildlife and plants around us and have the benefits of modern science and technology to help us.
We now have a herd of alpacas, a flock of sheep, runner ducks and a ‘gang’ of chickens so have become a mixed farm again. Converting to herbal leys and restoring meadows will provide the best possible nutrition for them whilst improving our farm soil health. It is a shame that I can’t compare notes with Great Grandad. I am sure he would have a lot to say.