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VIEW FROM THE FARM GATE - Autumn is time to get to the hearth of the matter; VIEW FROM THE FARM GATE.

Byline: Nia PARRY

IT'S time to light the fire a gain. Having been without a fire in the kitchen since May,it was time for a change.

The hearth needed a good sweeping out: sweet wrappers,crisp packets,discarded envelopes,lolly sticks and half-chewedgum,all conveniently dropped behind the fireguard during the summer.

An old newspaper -stuffed up the chimney to stop draughts -came down with a load of soot and twigs. Now it's pristine, ready for the arrival of a certain visitor on December 25!

The last visitor to come down from there was a jackdaw,back in September. We were having lunch when we heard a squeak from the chimney. As we stared wide- eyed at the chimney breast, the croaking got louder and louder and, with final shuffle and scratch, a huge jackdaw emerged on to the kitchen floor.

Erin dropped her plate and started screaming, which only provoked the bird to leave black foot prints over the floor,on the work tops and up the walls. Finally Arthur,my husband,did his Indiana Jones bit and sprang to its rescue.

Next job was to venture into the old zinc ``cwt glo'' (coal shed).The cwt glo is the only building on the farm which has not been converted,but is in desperate need of some tender loving care.

Having got everything out. I eventually got to the coal and, under somebuckets, spades and fishing nets,even managed to find some firelighters.

n CHANGE was also the buzzword at the Nuffield farming conference at Llanelli over the weekend. We heard over 20 presentations by graduates who,like myself,had travelled all over the world during the last year.

Within the beef,dairy,pig,poultry, horticulture and fish sectors, the message was clear: develop new ideas or stagnate.

I learnt how a supermarket's pounds 3.99bouquet had an international line- up. It had a mere eight blooms but two were from Africa, three from Holland, two from Kenya and one from Uruguay. And the grass came from Japan. How many flower miles had they travelled?Where are our British flower growers?Is it time for change?

I learned that lupins grow best in Iceland with 24 hours daylight in the summer. Lupins have two agricultural uses,for grain production and as forage, yet inChile a range of alternative products is also available: besides lupin snacks, flour made from the plant are a protein and energy base for the food industry,like milk substitutes.

In fact, within two years,aquaculture will probably be a major consumer of lupin flour. Will we be feeding lupins to our own commercial fish in the future?Should we plant our first lupin crop this spring?

Another eye opener was learning how certain nutrients, which naturally occur in milk and are thought to have human health benefits,are being marketed in liquid milk around the world.

Examples include melatonin-richNight Milk, which helps drinkers relax and is associated with delaying the menopause; A2 Milk,for customers with diabetes and coronary heart disease; and Omega 3 Milk,aimed at preventing heart disease. There are huge opportunities for the UK dairy industry to develop such products (HufenfaDe Arfon is already active in this area, I was pleased to discover).

Incidentally,anyone wanting a Nuffield scholar to speak at functions,or wanting to obtain Nuffield scholars' reports (including mine!)please contact the Nuffield Trust: nuffielddirector@aol.com
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Nov 20, 2003
Words:569
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