Hairdresser-turned-shepherdess, Zoë Colville farms nearly 100 acres of land near Maidstone with her partner, Chris Woodhead. With prime focus on their animals’ wellbeing, together they rear cows, sheep, goats and pigs, eventually selling their meat through The Little Farm Fridge. This month, Zoe reflects on misconceptions surrounding lamb and why education is so important
Before we kept livestock I’d never seen a dead animal, except a fox on the side of the road maybe. I never even saw our cats Winston and Xenon after their demise either. Add that I was a vegetarian for almost ten years before meeting Chris, the fact that we now run a little butcher’s shop off the farm is pretty crazy!
This often has me wondering about the general public and their knowledge of the meat they are eating, and how much education is truly needed. There have been a fair few situations where I’ve had conversations with people and found myself thinking, “How do you
not know that?” And then reminding myself that I wouldn’t have known either. Unless you actively go looking for that information, it’s not just fed to you like other topics. I believe schools are the answer; schools and social media.
During lockdown last year we had a couple and their dog watch us load the newborn lambs onto the top deck of the trailer and the ewes on the bottom, the lovely lady asked, “Oh no they aren’t off to slaughter are they?” And Chris and I looked at each other thinking it was a windup. But she was very serious, I can see how calling it ‘lamb’ can be confusing. Little do most people know that the animals look more like ewes than they do lambs when they are sent to the abattoir. Some will be a heavier carcass than me, that’s a far cry from the cute little thing hopping all over the field at sunset. Most of our lambs will go for meat when they are 6-7 months and older. They will be weaned naturally by their mother before this age and are on average 40kg as a minimum weight. I hope this can go some way to help clear up the misconception that they are babies separated from their mothers.
I have lots of people asking if I receive a lot of abuse on my social media from activists and in actual fact it’s quite the opposite. I did a poll and 15% of my followers choose to not eat meat, yet actively follow us, often engaging in conversation and that is a huge compliment to how we care for our livestock. I think there aren’t many things I can’t show on Instagram, as long as you explain in detail what’s happened and – most importantly – why. Anything can be taken out of context, an image, a comment, a video, but I am of the mindset that if you are clear and matter-of-fact about the explanation it will limit any kind of miscommunication and leaves very little room for confusion.
The Little Farm Fridge Recipe of the month
How to cook it… Beef Shin
Try this super-simple Mexican-inspired stew
• Serves 4
1 pack Little Farm Fridge Beef Shin
1 sachet taco seasoning mix
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 organic beef stock cube
salt & pepper
honey – I do 2 drizzles!
Sear the shin in oil and the seasoning and then pop it in a slow cooker with the remaining ingredients for the day! Serve with fluffy rice, finely chopped chillies and coriander – maybe even a little soured cream.
Follow Zoe on Instagram @thechiefshepherdess and @thelittlefarmfridge. You can order meat online at thelittlefarmfridge.co.uk
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