Meinir Howells farms in Shadog, near Llandysul, with her husband Gary, and their two little children Sioned and Dafydd. They have about 450 acres and 600 sheep, 200 head of cattle as well as producing 150 yearling tups to sell. Farming is not a nine to five job; it’s something that farmers have got to be on-call 24 hours a day for – but that’s what Meinir loves doing.
“We wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. It’s a fantastic way to bring up your children, on the farm in amongst the animals. I believe that farming is at the core – at the very heart – of the community; pull that farmer out and you lose the community, the Welsh language, the culture and everything that comes with it.
“So many people feed off the farmer in some way or another. On our farm we employ people to come in and help us with the silage and the slurry, fencing, and at lambing time we’ll have someone in to help us. Whatever we make on the farm, we do spend most of the money within that 20 mile radius.”
Meinir also believes strongly that farmers must work with nature, as well as producing high quality food.
“The way we farm our livestock here in Wales certainly helps to maintain biodiversity and healthy, varied soils and grasses, plus our fields become a huge carbon sink which is beneficial with regards to greenhouse gasses. On top of that, we make good use of the natural water resources that we have.
“We’ve planted about 9,000 trees here and double fenced our hedgerows, and by doing that we create natural corridors, shelter and food for wildlife; but we also have bird boxes and beehives. We’ve fenced around streams to keep the water clean, and on some of the poorest ground we have, instead of improving it and trying to fight against nature, we’ve given it back to wildlife.
“If you look at a lot of the Welsh landscape, it’s not there by accident; we’ve had generations of people working so hard and tirelessly looking after that land. It is a natural process, how we rear our animals, because they are free to graze outside on the lush variety of grass that we have got, like herbs and clover.”
But Meinir and Gary know that all their hard work really does pay off in the flavour and quality of their Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef.
“Personally I do believe this is the way to produce the best beef and lamb that you can get, and that’s why we have got that special PGI status here in Wales. Our produce is respected across the world because of the high quality that we have.
“It’s just family farms doing what they do best, with a passion and enthusiasm to create a good product which is healthy and full of vitamins and minerals for people.
“It is a fantastic way of life, and you know that you’re producing something very special at the end of the day.”