Being a stock broker

A literal stock broker though. And with the more stock a farmer has, the broker they are. Although, things just swung a little differently this past week with suddenly meat coming back on people’s menus and being in high demand. Not as high as bog roll or plain flour, but hey, what a change in people’s spending habits.

The situation is this. We currently have no beef at the moment, we sold out about a week before the panic buying habits took off.

About a month ago we had started making plans for the next steer going to his byre in the sky. Chatted to the butcher to ensure the timings gave enough hanging time. We were asked to keep him back until the end of March due to all the Easter preparations. All fine and dandy; a date that matched when the Crofter would be home was picked. Then, last week we rang to book the steer into the abottoir and all private sales have been stopped! Yes, thanks to all the people who for some reason are now raiding butcher shops, the abottoir is trying to keep up with their own demand. So hence no time for those of us who are independent.

The ‘zip-a-dee’ is missing from my do-da’ to say the least. It’s not an emergency, we have food for ourselves, we have food for the cows. We do not have bog roll stuffed sheds. The issue is our customers having to wait. As much as we like to be self suffiecient and sell excess on to others, the supply chain is reliant on others due to the law.

This is also an interesting time to see people’s spending and eating habits. We often promote eating local food even if it costs more; the benefit always seems to outweigh the cost. When the country starts talk of a lock down, where are people going to source their food? Interestingly enough, Scotland has a lot of landscape that can feed livestock and produce meat. It is a struggle to feed and produce a lot of fruit and veg (kale and turnips are grand, but I often buy bananas and other foods that come from a far as we have no hope of being self sufficient in things such as sweet potato). So why the sudden mass buying of meat? We have the supply on our doorstep, we don’t need to fly it in, so why put so much pressure on the shops and butchers (and therefore the abottoir)?

After the dust settles, will people be more aware of where their food comes from? How it can end up in a shop, packaged and ready for them? Will lockdown give people time to start growing their own fruit, veg and herbs? Dairy farmers still milk their cattle, will many try making their own cheese?

Now, a lot can change in a day in the current climate. We, unlike so many other small scale producers, have an alternative option for sending the steer. And with that, he is booked in on Thursday. Let’s hope we can be singing Ode to the Steer before the week is out.

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