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Greetings from the North Yorkshire countryside. In the shadow of Ripon Cathedral, the crocuses are blooming and it won't be long before the daffodils and lambs are out too. Only a couple of weeks ago, we were still in the grip of winter here, with the farmers battling the elements to do their winter feeding.
Here, in Ripon, my team and I are celebrating a fantastic ten days. Last week, we won the national award Online Butcher of the Year for the third time in five years, a shot in the arm for our efforts since the pandemic began. This week, F&Co turned ten. To celebrate we had Mexican tacos in our canteen - at a safe distance of course from one another. It has been some journey, and when I reflect on the past decade, there are many milestones to point to.
In my update this month, I wanted to point to one of these milestones in particular, the birth of a white calf.
In 2019, long time supplier, farmer, and friend of Farmison & Co, David Harrison, rang me up. "I'm in the market for a bull," he said. Thanks to our support, (and your custom), David felt he could increase his number of pedigree Galloway cattle, safe in the knowledge that there was a market for his heritage breed beef. This security had been lacking for some time, and, I am sad to say, is a rarity in farming these days.
Soon enough, a pedigree White Galloway bull was grazing the tops of Wharfedale, the future father of David's herd. The bull was named Billy Bremner, for the tough-tackling Scottish midfielder who made his name at Leeds United under Don Revie. As well as names, the two Billies share the same haircut.
This year, Billy the bull's first calf was born. Also white, this little bullock came into this world during one of the hardest winters in recent years. But the Galloway is a hardy breed, and David assures me the calf is doing well with the rest of the herd on the tops above Wharfedale. I saw the calf when I went to help with winter feeding and although I was given naming rights, my choice of 'Brian Clough' has been rejected by Leeds-supporting David.
As a milestone, this calf carries a lot of meaning for me. It shows just how good the supply chain we have built over the last ten years really is.
The Galloway breed is looking ever more secure; David can rely on us to provide a market for his beef; and we can show this to our customers. We've grown tremendously in the past year, but the fact that I can still pull out stories like this from our supply chain tells me that we've kept true to our principles of transparency - our supply lines are not anonymous and opaque, despite us having more customers than ever.
I am confident that we are building something to last. Farmison & Co will stay true to these principles, the farmers will be given some security, and heritage breeds will continue to flourish. At the same time, we're ensuring the survival of butchery skills, as the interface between farmer and home cook.
With the spring weather almost here, the vaccine roll out going well, and more people enjoying better meat than ever, I can't help but feel optimistic for the future. The seasons are so integral to farming, and the thing I'm looking forward to most is being able to head out to farms and catch up with suppliers.
The next four weeks of course are lambing season. It is an incredibly busy time of year in the countryside. A farming household will take turns to keep watch, working around the clock to ensure the safe passage of all the lambs. Usually I pop my head round the corner to say hello and see the new lambs, but I'll have to wait until next year.
I'd like to use this opportunity to say thank you for all of your support. We try to be modest, but it really is a fantastic team we have here, and I am so pleased their achievements are being recognised.
CEO and Founder of Farmison & Co