The Wright way of farming
During the Y Polyn years we became even more aware of provenance of the meat we served, the vegetables we prepared and the importance of good seasonal local produce, my Dad had land and the idea sprouted that we could use this land like they had first done in the 70s and 80s to rear animals.
Simon had started a media career first working on Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares after a much publicised resignation from editor of the AA restaurant guide, he went on to some work with Radio Wales and Channel 4 but after talking to BBC Wales got a commission to film a 5 part series rearing animals for the table, this involved poultry from chicks, ducklings and goslings to oven ready, Balwen sheep, lambing and rearing, Middle White pigs from wearers and the mighty Welsh Blacks finishing them for their last year.
Dad's land was fabulous, healthy, organic full of wild flowers and specimen trees but we had to invest in new fencing and pens, pig loos and poultry houses, we had a tremendous amount of help from Simons friends, anyone with farming in their blood had words of wisdom to impart, some of which were followed and some not.
We were told not to get Balwens as they were too small and difficult to catch but they originated in the Towy valley so we bought a small flock from Llanfynydd as it made sense to us, we had tasted Richard Vaughan’s Middle White pork so that was a certainty and Simon managed to get some weaners from Whitland - Welsh Blacks we bought at auction from Carmarthen with the help of another farmer friend.
The poultry we sourced locally too after visiting the amazing poultry market in Llandeilo. We started with these and had great fun rearing the chickens from young chicks in a warm shed to letting them run in a large coop and a chicken shed. As for the ducks we had just a few including an evil male who had to have his own run and pond after terrorising the others, the geese were the noisiest and took great pleasure in chasing everything in sight and nibbling the pigs tails whilst they were rubbing their behinds on the next door fencing.
The purpose of the exercise was Simon taking the meat to a top restaurant and their chefs cooking it alongside their normal produce to see which was tastiest. If you watched “The Wright Taste” at the time or bought the accompanying book you will know the results were favourable.
The pigs were probably the easiest to rear and were a delight, the sheep were the trickiest as gave up on life when it was inconvenient and we lost a few. Having to bottle feed one for a few weeks when it was rejected by its dying mother, I still remember overhearing a teenage Jamie on the phone to his older brother - who had moved away to university - telling him his mum had totally lost the plot and there was now an orphan lamb sleeping in the downstairs bathroom, I loved that lamb and still feel every home should have one.
The Welsh blacks were Simon's pride and joy and he found them the hardest to surrender to the abattoir but that was the point of the series, there was only one survivor "Chicken Little" who was a chick that refused to grow and only made it to bantam size, we moved him over to Y Polyn where Sue and I had a couple of pet chickens and there she lived happily for a few months before being taken by a fox as an amuse bouche.