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Maldwyn Thomas's Yearly Chat MAGe.zine.

*2005* ~ We are getting very cosy in our 'Virtual World!

'The Organic Produce Scheme.'
You will no doubt remember in early versions of my 'Chat MAGe.zine I described the origins of our conversion from normal mixed farming, to having spent the time and effort achieving the recognition and the celebrations surrounding our 'Organic Status'. From the start we associated ourselves with the accepted whole United Kingdom steering body for our industry. If you recall we became members of the Organic Farmers and Growers. I might add, at no small expenditure. Membership was in its hundred's. For this we needed to purchase any stickers we required for our packaging, and there were other areas of expenditure. Over the last few years we looked carefully at this expenditure and our many areas where we hoped for a return on our investment. Back in 2004, there was some encouragement nationally, in the Welsh Food Industry, for a focusing body, a point of reference for we 'Organic' pathfinders. There were some ears who heard! Late in the year the 'Welsh Organic Produce Scheme' appeared on the horizon. We gave it some time and in a few weeks became convinced that it held, for us, some genuine advantages presented themselves. The Welsh Organic Produce Scheme. There were also one or two powerful reasons for considering becoming members and supporters. Naturally, as a new business, only just starting to see any rewards for the 'decade', or so of time, and financial investment, it was a choice of 'who' would we spend the membership subscription fee with. We made, eventually, the decision to go with the new 'Welsh Organic Recognition Scheme' - Their logo is on display amidst this text. It is the new image, of the new scheme. Our customers and those who have an interest in what and how we develop our business will be pleased to see the membership certificate on our certificates page. But more importantly the scheme has a multi-lingual administrative system. We like that. We like the fact that this is a Welsh Scheme which without any doubt will eventually grow up, mature into a nation-wide effective 'Agency' or even a fashionable 'Corporation' - Who knows what the limits are for us, the *first footer's* in this new and exciting business and embryonic Welsh Industry. We support all those who are taking the plunge into the 'black-hole' of 'Organics'. It's not easy, it's not confidence building or vibrating security. But the promise is there. There maybe a pot at the end of the rainbow. We can only hope there will be some real value in 'Organics' eventually. Maybe the 'raindow' augers well for the pot awaiting all who go 'Organic' - Who really knows in these early days.

It was back in two thousand '03' that I last wrote in this 'Chat MAGe.zine' anything about my dog's. Well, that was about one of my dog's, if you remember the puppy 'Spot'. Well, he has grown up into a bit of a 'Flash Harry' - Still not working well yet, but over eager, like his Mother and trying, Very Trying! Trying on myself and his own expectations! Anyway, here is another nice little story about Dog's! - You are looking here at a dog called 'Billy' - Bill's story is quite brief and normal. That was until he can face to face with a new-born lamb! What on earth are they saying to each other? It was Billy's first experience of a 'lamb' and it was the lamb's first experience of a very big cold 'wet' black nose! Daft Billy, just stood there with his eyes closed (As you can see) enjoying the experience of having his nose licked! The 'lamb' had never seen a big black nosed on a 'Yellow' dog before. Billy is so gentle. We look at this, and we imagine all sorts of captions for this picture. It was my Margaret who came up with the idea. "Why not make it a caption competition on the Web-site?" - So, here it is. We want a caption for the picture. Send me your suggestions to admin@aran-lamb.co.uk - We await your suggestions with high expectations of some really funny caption comments. So, what is Billy's story? Well one of my sons bought him from a pedigree breeder of Gun Dogs. His intention was to train him to the gun. I'm a Celebrity - Get me out!. It that story of the best laid scheme of mice! A few months after Billy arrived in his life, a wonderful young lady came into his world. The first thing that seemed to become unimportant was the 'shooting'. Then the need to train the 'gun-dog'! As the priority's in his world changed, well you can imagine. Billy became truly domesticated, sleeping by a fire, having his own bed. All those sort of 'spoiling' habits we humans have for dogs and animals we love. Soon there were three in the house. With Bill, that was four! The dog was brought here to the farm, to stay for a few weeks, when the baby came home. Week's became month's and month's became a year. Yes, Billy is part of the family and with much rivalry between Spot, his Mum and Billy. The boss as company, in front of the fire by the television has become Billy's kingdom. The free run and wander about, while other dog's are in the barn or out working, is Billy's kingdom. He cannot be called a 'watch-dog' he fails to bark at all cars. He cannot be called an essential companion like a guide dog. He has not accepted any regular duties, other than eating. That's Billy's kingdom. A lazy, relaxed and peaceful existence, where nobody bothers him. Yes, when you think of his daily routine it's a life we would all give our back teeth for - We would if we still had them! All the other dog's get fed, so does Billy' - It's a dog's life! Yes and in every sense of the words. So, lets have the caption and see what fun we can get out of this little picture. Oh, and by the way - Nobody has mentioned Billy returning from whence he came. Mag's reckons I quite enjoy having a Golden Retriever at my heel's. At least I never take him into town. I would never hear the last of it. They would say I'm going soft! - On dogs!!

Our Motor Sport Son and Sponsorship.
We have spent quite some money on supporting and sponsoring sport's meeting's and event's around our area of North Wales. The 'Aran-Fell Race' - Due on the 26th March 2005 is our biggest event and challenge -|- We have sponsored football in Bala. -|- There are other plans in the pipeline, as they say. The Driver of our Rally car stepped into another 'piece of metal' recently. It goes to show what happens when he gets the right shoes on, with the correct powerhouse under the bonnet. I take the word's for this to go with the picture from the North Wales Newpaper - Motoring News. 26th January 2005 -

"The Knowledge aids Pierce. Local co-driver picks up first rally win on the Gareth Hall Winter Challenge. (Words by Ian Mills) -
Brynli Thomas and Brynmor Pierce made the best use of a combination of their Impreza's traction and their local knowledge to take an east win on Bala Motor Clubs -Gareth Hall Winter Challenge.
That will do - Nicely!Snow fell just before the rally started, ther skies cleared and the resulting freezing temperatures made for treacherouse conditions for the competitors, especially in the Clocaenog area.
Thomas/Pierce were the class of the field all night, giving Pierce his first rally win. Merfyn and Gwawr Hughes took second place, four minutes down on the winners, while Simon Harrison and Paul Holmberg's Escort was the first two-wheel driver car home in third.
Garry Jones and Steve Herbert might have taken the runners-up spot, but an eight minute wrong slot on the last section dropped them to tenth." -

You will no doubt have seen our Bryn's 'Organic Aran-Lamb' Rally Car on the 2004 Aran Fell Race Report Page. It is really good to see what he can do when the skids he puts on his bottom are four wheeled drive and impressive in the engine-room department. Trouble is this takes much more than your 'flexible friend'! Bryn recently recently, "I'm too old now for International stuff." - By that he means, for the Team Manager's of the National Motor Manufacture's rally team of driver's. In that world he maybe considered to be too old - In his mid to late twenties! - They really must be blind. Look at all that knowledge and skill. It could be transported anywhere in the world and still shine. By four minutes!! What a display of talent and concentration - Excellent Bry, we are proud and very pleased to congratulate you in this very public manner - World-wide. If you are interested in making contact with Brynli Thomas just e.mail admin@aran-lamb.co.uk - If you are a Works Team Manager, be prepared for some surprises from this young man who has been driving since he can remember. One of the joy's of having miles of private road to travel every day. Up the track to the farm, and down the track from the farm, up the track to the farm - All on gravel with some really nasty corners for an eight year old.

The Guest Speaker at Making Diversification Succeed.
It was on the first of February in two thousand and five at the Mid Wales Shooting Centre, Trefeglwyn, Powys that under the European Union Objective '1', the Welsh Assembly Government delivered with the help of other agencies an important day of presentation to the influencer's, Farmers, Investors and Service Industry Executives gathered together the message - "Making Diversification Succeed". (The attached picture is a thumbnail of the full size programme on the Certifications Page. The difficulties of diversification and the need for support, some of the known problems and some of the unknown perils were presented in an opem and informal environment. After the endorsement's of the initiative by the promoting authorities and organisations representatives, three guest speakers had been invited from the whole of the country nationwide, to make presentation and be subjected to a question and answers session for over half an hour. Of those three presentations, one was given by Maldwyn Thomas and Margaret Thomas. They also satisfied a number of important questioner's with in-depth answers to very searching and important questions. The very nature of the respect in which Maldwyn Thomas is held in his country is evident by the contents to the introduction sheets at the Seminar. We reproduce the content of this sheet as follows:..

Lamb takes to the Internet.
Aran Organic Lamb's colorful website is an important weapon in the company drive for customers. The notes of the Welsh National Anthem greet you as you enter the red, green and white site which sells Welsh lamb over the internet.
CwmOnnen Farm is on the slopes of the Aran mountain above Llanuwchllyn near Bala and Maldwyn Thomas is the tenth generation to farm the land.
GO TO: The Welsh Government Program ~ On Our Certificates Page. Following the crisis in farming and the Foot and Mouth epidemic, he faced new challenges, including mastering the new technology.
"We were keen to sell the meat directly to the customer. But we were half way up a mountain, at the end of a narrow country lane - not the most perfect of locations." he said, "New technology was our salvation."
Maldwyn and his wife, Margaret, were not very familiar with computers and websites but learnt the ropes very quickly.
They have adapted to keeping their accounts on computer and most of the meat is sold over the Internet. A recent order came from the Isle of Man and was delivered by air!

After so many years of just me telling my readers what I think and want to say about 'Organic Aran-Lamb' it is delightful to have real genuine content from other sources. We have had a wonderful 2004 - The plans and activity around us for 2005 augur well for the coming year. All that we can do is keep ahead of the activity and demands made on us all by the business. It is wonderful having so much to do - and so little time to do it all in! We look forward to sending you some of our tasty and delicious lamb anywhere in Europe, even World-Wide during 2005. We have all the required information and legislation requirements in place. If I was a fishmonger, I could say, the world's my oyster! Buy I am a shepherd and I suppose for me it must be - a shepherd not a farmer. It seems there are just not many 'good shepherds left on Earth in these trying and ruthless times.
From the Peace of the Mountain's we wish everybody to have health, wealth and happiness. See you later in the year. -
Maldwyn Thomas. February 2005.

'Organic Aran-Lamb is coming into season.
Our 2004 order's are shaping up to be terrrriffiK!

The Organic Center Wales Logo.

It is getting very busy and very demanding. Also, so very exciting! If anybody had told us three years ago, that we would have been so effective in our market segment, we would have said, Yeh,yeh,yeh! We really have been pulled out by by just about everything. The most impressive this season is the web-site. I can tell you just a little of what is going on. You would be surprised by the number and our types of unique and individual visitors. We get busier week on week.

Every month we now are getting over 100K visitor's. Yes, over 3K per day. Even more important - In 2004, for the first time, over half of our visitors are coming from the United Kingdom, that is about 58% we would call local (UK 58K+). The other surprising thing about our visitors is the number of trade group's from Colleges and Uni's as we discovered only this week. They say you have arrived on the web, when those around you in your world ask for 'click-throughs'. Well, we have noticed in our statistics that the University of Aberystwyth. Wales. Visits quite often. Only in the last few days have we found out that they, and we have identified who they are - The Organic Centre of Wales. Which is a part of Aberystwyth University, are using the 'Organic Aran-Lamb' Web-site on Open Days at the center and often when they are running Organic Farm Demos. They have told us they are to add a 'click-through' to 'Organic Aran-Lamb' and they have asked us to do the same for them if possible. That explains the new logos on the site. It also the schools who have been visiting in numbers. It's the 'IT' Classes from these Schools. We are getting groups of twenty to thirty coming onto our web-site from these Hi-Tech Schools on Virtual Field Trips and Virtual Tourism to Wales. From where? Well, all across the planet - Global! Yes, 'Organic Aran-Lamb' is a totally global web-site. Then again, we have many who are using our 'Tour Wales' web-site, to learn about our wonderful country. Plan holidays, plan projects and generally find out about the Steam Railway's, Concert's, Beach's, Mountain's and *MagiK* that is abroad in Wales. Yes, this is the land of inspiration. You must spend time finding all our 'virtual nooks and cranies'. The Organic Center Wales Logo.
So what are the 'Organic Centre Wales' at the 'Institute of Rural Sciences' - Aberystwyth University, doing using our web-site? Well firstly, surprising though it might be to some, this web-site is selling lamb. Selling a Lot of Lamb! It is important to show new people joining the 'Organic' sphere of Food Production what works and what is excellence when it comes to building an 'Organic Web-site'. Secondly, it has Interest and Interest on Interest! It is not just about selling. It's about Wales. It is this 'About Wales' and the interest at the Organic Center which is showing what 'Organic Aran-Lamb' is all about. It will only be a decade before the whole of Europe will look at what they are eating, looking for traceability and the guarantee of *The FINEST* - It will be Wales which is providing this top, supreme, ultimate traceable *Finest* Quality! Be it Fruit, Vegetables, Fish, Beef, Poultry, Pork, or Lamb. Your purchase is from Wales you can be sure it will be the finest - Backed up, supported and 'guided' by our National 'Organic Centre Wales'. It will be this 'global' center of National excellence that will ensure that you will be able to see from it's 'registered brand' - Like 'Organic Aran-Lamb' that it is of the finest quality. The Organic Center Wales Logo. You can find out more on this fascinating long term objective for the finest 'organic' human foods for the next millennium by contacting 'Organic Centre Wales' - 'Institute of Rural Sciences' - Aberystwyth University. Aberystwyth - SY23 3AL. If your contact is urgent Telephone: 01970 622248 or you can Fax: 01970 622238 - Of course they have e-mail contact at - organic (The single word) @aber.ac.uk. It is in this silly format to kill e-mail spider's.

So that is why we have this very new and important logo on your favorite 'Organic Lamb' web-site. Stay tuned. I shall be back with more news soon. Reminder - WE ARE TAKING ORDERS NOW FOR DELIVERY IN AUGUST - As Hilda Baker used to say in the 50's and sixties - "Be soon!". Make sure NOW you are not disappointed. Bi for now - Or as we say in Wales - Tat Tar!

2004 ~ Spring is Bburrssstinggg Out all over!
It a great time of the year.
We are preparing, building this page - All the pages, at this time. In the next few weeks just beware of the spanners, hammers and other tools that slip from the hand at a great height.

What a swift and busy year this is turning out to be. THAT WAS A HALF STATEMENT AS USUAL!!!!

NEW WORDS COMING-----We have made some changes to the web-site already this year - I am thinking of the 'Availability Table' (Try it here) This shows you what is ordered and what dates we are still taking orders for. The Van - Order Department. That is important, our trade is established and we are now taking orders, every day of the week. If you have not ordered, well sorry, we might have to keep you waiting a week or two! I am trying hard for that not to happen.

Last year what I said is below... I'm still thinking what to say this year!

The 2003 Farm News!

Some great improvements - We have replaced the meat photographs on the Shop Page with some professional shots, The Vista of Ferm CwmOnnen [Ash Valley Farm.] and we have added some new ones to the Cooks Page. They are truly impressive, you really must take a look at them. We are now exporting! Our first lamb has gone abroad, well, to the Isle of White! The carrier says its abroad - He charges as abroad! Another bit of important information. The Farm across the wildflower and herb medows. We finished our Order Department back in April, it is set up here with the van for our North West delivery. You can see the Order Preparation is pictured here. There are some really great pictures to add to the web-site this month. Have a look at Cwmonnen Farm taken from a bit away, across the valley. The Order Preparation Room. Then my favorite photograph. Cwmonnen Farm across one of our wild flower and herb medows filled with buttercups, clover (Lots more but I am having to find what they are called in English!) Cowslip's and more. Yes, the secret is out - These are our secret ingredient when it come to flavour! The second view of Order Preparation Room. The big improvement since the start of this season is the resurfacing of the drive up to the farm, much easier and smoother ride now. I am very proud of our new Order Preparation Suite which is now finished. Complete with walk-in coldroom and stainless steel everywhere. You will be really impressed with the level of hygene and facilities. All designed to make sure you order gets to you in the finest condition and on most deliveries - Next day! Some of - The Team. Anyway, have a look at the Order Room. Finally on this brief up-date. Have a look at our new logo. It's got the three mountains, but the farm name is in English and Welsh. Well that's it for now. We really are very busy, I shall be back in a few weeks with more news about what is happening here at 'Organic Aran-Lamb' - Bi for now - Maldwyn Thomas.
P.S: Just a swift additional photograph. I want you to meet my wife and partner - My Margaret. Oh yes - Look at the garden. It would be more than my life is worth for one of those ewe's, you can see in the field behind, getting into the garden. They do very rarely - Then its chaos - No flowers... Nothing! No smiles either. Finally - There are lost of new plans and ideas being developed for the future so keep in touch with me. Speak to you again soon.

Hi there folks.
Welcome to our 2nd Year on the Internet.

Would you believe it, we are in our second year already! The second year of selling our 'lamb's direct. Last year was exciting, filled with anticipation. Would we sell any lamb, would we even get an e.mail or a telephone call. It was about six weeks before we were listed on the Search Engine's and for most of 2002, we were on the first page of 'Google' if you requested 'Organic Lamb'. Then the question's started, after being exposed on the search engine's would we get any customers? Well, yes we did, lots of them. And what an excellent year we had in 2002. By the end of August, we were aware that we would sell all of our production, and have maybe just a few late lambs for the back end of the year. It all worked out really well. We are still having over 350 visitors each week from all over the world. It seems our web pages are quite a source of information for those interested in knowing more about Wales. That is really important to me. We must support and promote our wonderful and magnificent country and its beauty. As to the business? This year I am confident, we shall be able to serve even more client's and still maintain our existing customer's with tasty succulent organic Aran-Lamb for their repeat order's. Being small and tasty in a weight range sometimes a little above the 10 to 12 Kilo Lambs our produce is ideal for the family. Although, we have many customers who have given a joint or chops to family and friend's. One customer, who let his father taste 'Organic Aran-Lamb' refused point blank to allow his Dad to have anymore until the next lamb was delivered. Now we have families and friends ordering together for delivery to the original customer. That, of course, helps us build our reputation. If you are new to this web-site, last years introduction to the 'Farm Page' is included at the bottom of this column. It all makes for background knowledge. Helps you appreciate what a unique and excellent service we provide. We are probably the only individual welsh hill farm which is selling nationally direct to our customers. At the start of our second year, we know what you like and what you appreciate about our 'Organic Aran-Lamb'. It will be available about the middle to end of June, get your order in now to be sure that you get the first of the season. It is doubly delicious and tender in early season. Lots of news this year. However, there is not that much space on this page so here I want to tell you about new additions to the team. Other news can be found on the News Page. The Spot Image.Those of you. Who have in the past read my column will know I have two working dogs. The oldest is 'Bet'. She is about seven years now. A real little worker. She ties so hard to please me. She worries like mad, this means, most days she runs twice as far as she needs too, but she will not listen. Some day's she works herself to a standstill. I signal her to stop and stay, but she worries and runs on. Only having to run back to where she was when I stopped her. I can tell you much about sheep-dogs. I have been very well blessed with many good dog's over the years. 'Bet' is about the hardest worker I have ever had. She runs all over the mountain, jumps off rock outcrops instead of going down the safe way. Runs and runs up hill and down the slopes at one speed - 'Flat-out! On the other hand, 'Gel' the dog I bought about three years ago has had a few bad experiences in his young life, before I acquired him. Because of these experiences he lack confidence. Starts off then asks himself is he right. Is that what I wanted? Then when I say, command stay, he keeps on worrying and is not concentrating on the sheep. But he is a good hard working dog who will run all day if I ask him too. Sheepdog's need strong leg's, they run and run miles in a day on a farm like ours. A few years ago 'Bet' started limping. I took her to the Vet. Diagnosis, a fractured front leg (shin bone on a human). It was about three months before she walked again, and a few months more before I would dare to work her. She had undergone detailed surgery and had been provided with a stainless steel brace, bolted inside and through her shin bone. It needed to mend and strengthen, and it needed to be done this way, because she is a working dog and would never be happy without freedom and work. All together it was a very expensive treatment. But she is worth it. The Spot Walk. The dogs love their life, if you feed them, show them affection and trust them, they respond and enjoy doing what you want of them. 'Bet' still worries, and runs. Going up the mountain on the quad-bike she would never ride on the frame. Never! 'Bet' ran ahead, fast and furious. Getting to the top well before me. Now after her leg problem she still works hard, but she has taken to accepting a ride on the quad on the second time up the mountain in a day. You can imagine my surprise. I went into the barn one morning about October, there in the straw next to 'Bet' were two little puppies. I did not even know they were talking, never mind making 'puppies'! For three years they have been almost rude to each other. She snapped at him when they worked together. She chased him off when he tried to show her companionship. I have had some dogs since I was a boy, if you had said these two were going to make 'puppies' I would have said - Never! It was about the second week we lost one of the puppies. Alas, the next morning we were down to one. Strange really, most litters are six to eight babes. I have known more, but just two. Most unusual. It must be the 'spirit of the mountain' - It's a deep and wonderful presence - but this new little dog is built like a house-brick. Short, square, with a thick leg on each corner. And as you will see from the picture here, he has a white patch on his hips over his rear legs. So I called him 'Spot'! Even now those little legs are like scaffolding poles. There will be no problem with 'Spot' needing surgery and metal plates as he gets older. Those legs will be like tree trunks. Let me remind you. These dogs are working dogs, and although they do live in the barn, they do sometimes come into the house. It is not out of bounds, they just don't share their none working time with us at home. They like the silence and the sense of being a watchdog in the yard. There is a story about working dog's I shall tell you in a little while. I'm a Cat. - Pick me up Please! Anyway, back to the phone call. It was around about September this last year. I had a telephone call from a friend in the 'Hunting' fraternity. "Hi Maldwyn, any chance of you taking a 'puppy' for us again, this year?" - Yes, I have had a few to rear from baby puppy over the years. When they are young they need lots of space. About our twelve mile boundary fencing. Then lot's of smells besides sheep. Foxes, and we have plenty of those, the 'Big Cat' - and that's anther story - Big bird's, buzzard's, eagle's, kite's and the occasional Otter. Strange smells of new human's, hiker's and hill walker's. This all makes good training for a thinking dog. It was late one night, we heard a car turning in the yard outside. I went out to be greeted by my 'Hunting' friend. "Here you are Meldwyn." He presented me with a urine soaked baked bean box. The 'Pup' had afterall travelled none stop from Hampshire. Together we walked over to the barn, and I went inside. I opened the box and placed the little sloppy, gangly, loose bag of bones and skin on the straw next to 'Bet'. She smelt it, then turned away. There would be no problem there. We returned to the house and spent a pleasant night. As he was leaving we shone the big torch into the barn. To my delight 'Bet' is curled up around 'Spot' and the new arrival. They were almost the same size. Convenient for 'Bet'. Her baby had returned, maybe? The Spot Cuddle. As the weeks passed the hound grew like a 'sweet pea plant' for every inch of 'Spot' two inches for the new member of the family. Yes, I think 'Bet' mothered him. She treated them both the same. Problem for her was, he was nearly as tall as his 'foster-mother'! I started letting them out in the morning after breakfast. If I was going out to business, they stayed out roaming the mountain. They always arrived home about 3pm, as the sun started to drop, and the temperature with it. They became the best of pals. Everywhere together. Up stream in the river bed one minute, then diving into the depth of the forestry, and the smell of fox! Soon the high ridge was being investigated. They never stopped. In January I started to do preliminary training of 'Spot'. Then it was that I discovered, I needed to separate these young 'hooligans'! I was trying to train the first 'sheep-hound' in Wales! He was off up the hill to get behind, to 'lift' them towards me, as he had watched his Mum and Dad do so many times. What did I hear - "Yyyoooowww!" Followed in the next moment by "WwwooffYooww!" and again. He was definitely learning some bad language for a sheepdog! - They were separated from that day onwards during the daytime. 'Freeman'. That was what I had named the 'Hound' took to roaming the mounatin alone. As he departed in the morning there was a number of "Yyyoooowww!" followed from the nearby barn by a muffled and weak "WwwooffYooww!". 'Spot' still speaks 'Hound' when he gets excited. Needs to chase off the get the other side of a willful old ewe. He breaks out into 'Hound' without thought as he gets excited. He will most likely do that for the rest of his life. He will never be in any national trials where that language would definitely be frowned upon by the judges. I was saying about these dogs being working dogs. If you ever come into the mounatins and as you are picnicing you are joined by a young hound or a sheepdog, do not be tempted to think it may be lost. None of our dogs get lost. They may take a few days to find their way home in foul weather, or in the depth of winter if they get seperated in a 'white-out' but they never really get lost. The country is not that big enough. This family was on the way home after their holiday. Stopping on the mountains range for their picnic lunch they enjoyed meat and poultry sandwiches, to be suddenly joined by a rather hungry 'hound'! It devoured all that it was given, walked all over the spread on the grass, and generally created mayhem! As the time came to leave, the children could not leave this wonderful dog who had no sense at all, to starve to death in the wilderness. "Mummy, Daddy, we must take it home to find out who he belongs to." - That was the first fatal mistake. On the way home it wetted the back carpet a dozen times or more. Then it left a 'visiting card' unexpectedly. The smell was horrid, cry's of 'Get it out!" - Not the dog, the visiting cards. Then, at last home it was taken into the bosom of the family - The second fatal mistake. It was a few days before they realised it had no idea of going outside to wet or provide visiting cards! Then the third - Fatal Mistake! They all went out. School, Work, Shopping. Six hours later they returned to find that they had let the demolition contractor loose in their beautiful home. Three piece suite ripped, chewed, ruined. - Beds, ripped, mattresses, torn apart. Kitchen table with one shortened leg, chewed off. Just about every piece of furniture had been tasted for quality, every soft furnishing, curtain, hanging towel in the bathroom and so much more had been ripped down and torn. Devastation was an understatement. The 'Hunt Master' was sitting down to his dinner when the phone rang. "It's the RSPCA here. Have you lost one of your young dogs in the last week?" - "where - In Lincolnshire!!" The following day after 400 miles, the little demolition expert was returned to the world he understood. The moral of the tale. If you are stumbled upon by a Hound or a Sheepdog with a normal sense of smell for roast meat's, downwind three miles, and their concentration is distracted by that 'smell'. Finish your picnic and leave it standing there. The Spot Interest pose. It will remember what it was doing before it was eating meat sandwiches, and it will return to its original 'thought form' or process in just a few minutes. Yes dogs are of two kinds. Working and pets. You can have them to work and they can still be petted. Love only makes them work harder. Some 'pet' dogs who are from working breeds should never be asked to become pets. It is also cruel to go out to work and leave a dog alone for eight or ten hours. After five days, it will start to go quite mad or become a stupid, sleep filled moron. Working dog breeds love to work. I shall return to this in a few weeks. There is so much, still yet to tell. Hope you enjoyed my tale.
Kind Regards.
Maldwyn Thomas. Spring 2003.


About the Farm.

Well now.... Where to start. Firstly, maybe it would be wise to explain the name of the farm.

In my first language, Cymraeg - Welsh - it has been called 'Fferm CwmOnnen' for nearly a thousand years. When we started putting this web-site together, we discussed using English on this web-site to start off with. We intend to move on to the Language of Cymru (Wales) when it will be running well, and we have established some level of visitors. Also, the web-mastering is being done by an english speaker, a Saesneg - Or as they say in The Scotland a Sassenach - the same pronounciation, just spelt differently. I reckon English is already hard enough for him to cope with at times! No, really only joking.

Cwm means Valley. Onnen means the ash tree. The rest is self explanatory. The farm has been in my family now for ten generations, I estimate since about the 1750's at least, so every inch of this 'great hump' of living rock is in my genetic memory so to speak. I know every square foot of it, essential if I get lost in a white-out or a storm. I can find my way down, although Bet (my sheep dog) goes off and usually arrives home a few hours later. Anyway, I will try and bring some of this heritage to life for you. Let me start with the present.

I have, no matter how I insult him, a 'crazy' Englishman, who also won't go away - get on out of my world. A few years ago he started having all night bonfires which he amazingly called Bar-b-Ques. The fact he had them in a little nook, somewhere inside the 12 or so miles of parameter fencing, to Fferm CwmOnnen. The Salmon River in the Nook. They were 'big'! That the local butcher was cleaned out of steak, and stuff, gives you some idea of the fare and the fun. As he got older, "There is life after the operation" he says, we started drinking what he called medicine. I am also a confirmed 'barrbi' freak! No, we have not got round to throwing another 'lamb' on the barbbi, but we are getting there. (There is a shortage of prawns above 1,000 meters altitude!) I started off with a 45 gallon oil drum, cut in half down its length. Then there was a stand, then there was a wall, then there was a cover with temporary pull round wind breaks. The Squires Kitchen.Then unexpectedly the 'crazy Sais' called it 'Squire's Kitchen' And it stuck! So have a look at the Bar-b-Que after nearly five years. This black and white photo, by the way, was taken by the 'Sais' on his 'box' camera. His all night bonfires were here by the stream, down in these hollows. The fire-place of the farm bar-b-que is the next photo for you - a close up. The Squires Kitchen.You can just see the engraved wooden plaque saying 'Squires Kitchen' - That was a birthday present from the family a couple of years ago. The second photo is a wide angle shot with the evening light creeping away into the shadows. This extra 'out-door' space is wonderful in the summer. We get some wonderful quality sunsets. Over the years we have had them all colours. Red, yellows and even purple and blue. It is the rich 'red ones' which hold the magic. A night like this, viewed from Barmouth Promenade or at the end of the Llyn Peninsula, looking west the seventy odd miles to Ireland, can be quite a life-event for the last few nights of your holiday. The Squires Kitchen.Of course, getting a good night like this is pot-luck. However when the evening sky clears after a heavy daytime storm, this is the sort of sunset we can expect. On a summer afternoon, with the garden, the Bar-bi, (that could be spelt Barf-y-ciw in Welsh I imagine.) the evening sunshine provide us with a wonderful environment and atmosphere highlighting the wonderful views. Some call them breathtaking, even we do not take the location for granted. Protection of the environment is important to me. I have undertaken several schemes to preserve and encourage wildlife, trees and the wild birds. The Squires Kitchen.I have seen the return of the Barcud Coch (Red Kite), and recently I was delighted to see a full grown Eryr Aur (Golden Eagle), with an enormous wing span that must have been eight feet. However, take a look at our garden, you can see the views down the valley to Bala Lake in the top left corner of the photograph. This is our home and business, so when I say call and collect your order I mean it. You will always be welcome.
The husbandry of this high land demands stamina and lots of energy. Things are easier now for me than they were for my forefathers. I have a Quad-Bike that will climb almost anything, so the climb to the top is not so demanding as it once was. I was once able to get to the summit in 30 minutes! Even on the Quad if would take me longer than that. I must have been fit! The Squires Kitchen.Here is a picture I am very proud of. My father, Mr Gwwynli Thomas, a'top of the Aran's. A few years ago now. He is in his eighties today, and still talks, on a fine dry day, of wishing he was able to make the top. It must be twenty years since he was up there last. So, now you have met my father. Would you like to meet my grandfather. An American Citizen, Chief of.... But I am jumping too fast. My Grand-father Dafydd Thomas, was one of 14 children. He lived with his mother here on the farm. He worked over the other side of the mountain in the valley of Dinas Mawddwy. About 6 miles and two thousand feet up and down the other side, twice each day. Like many men in this valley, he walked over the top, summer and winter for the equivalent wage of 25 'old' pence a week. About 13pence in new money! He had elder brothers who, as they grew up, moved away. He, like them, reached the age when 'moving away' was the only option. Funny how things have not changed in over 100years. My own four sons all work away. Manchester, Birmingham, Wrexham. In today's world they can at least travel home for an odd night and some weekend from 40 to 70 miles away. In 1894, when he was 18 years old, my grandfather went to work in the cotton factories of Liverpool. There he was able to earn 5 times what he had earned for such killing work at home. With the railways opening the valley (the old line goes past the end of our road in the valley below) travel to Merseyside and Liverpool became easier. This brought more frequent visits home. [Roedd wedi bod yno am Flwyddyn pan gafodd lythyr gan ei fam yn gofyn iddo fynd i chwilio am Rowland] One week, in 1896, while at home my Grandfather was asked by his Mother to find his elder brother, Rowland. He had stopped sending letters home and she was getting worried about him. "Will you go to America to find him?" she asked. Even in the 1800's America was an even bigger country than it is to day. The physical barriers to travel had yet to be fully conquered. The Elder. "Gwnaf, Mam", was the reply. In a few weeks he had bought a ticket from Liverpool to New York, through the immigration procedure and, immediately he was searching for his brother. In New York's Welsh Community, they said, "Yes, we have seen him. There is money waiting for him here, so he will be back." That was not good enough. Dafydd Thomas was on a mission. After more enquiries, he set off for San Francisco. There was a rumor that Rowland, had gone to the California goldmines. Getting to Frisco was the first difficulty of many. At last, he arrived at the address given to him, and asked, and asked, had the owner seen his brother Rowland. 'Yes, he is up country in the goldmines. He will be back in a month. As a stable lad at the hotel, he waits for the day. Then the shout goes up, "The steamer is coming!" - He watches the men disembark. Seeing his elder brother my grandfather walked towards him on the jetty and knocked his arm as he walks past. Just to get the words 'I'm sorry!" in Welsh, I suppose. Anyway, his brother did not recognise him, well how would he, he was the least expected person. He watched his brother go into the Hotel restaurant. He followed him in - "This seat taken"? He asked his elder brother for the opposite chair at the table. "No", was the reply - "Help yourself". Suddenly his brother recognised him and said "Deio wyt ti, dywed?" There is a very sad end to the story, but in 1906 my grandfather came home to farm CwmOnnen, at that time, he was an American Citizen, and stayed so for the rest of his life. I suppose that would give me a 'Green-card' if I wanted one! I promise to finish this story off - if I get enough requests. Drop me an e.mail and ask me - It shall be done. Well that is it - before I go, let me tell you a recent story. When we started the web-site, we wanted to display 'Organic' Aran-Lamb, in the modern setting of its transit box, and in the old-fashioned half-lamb basket.Emily. The idea was that my daughter Emily' would dress in traditional welsh costume, and holding the basket, she would display the old fashioned image of a 'Tudor Serving Wench' with your delivery of lamb. Computer Images can be such a let down. You just cannot get near enough to get the detail. If you try and do it on the web-site, you loose the color to get the definition. Anyway, here is Emily on the standing stone in the middle of the CwmOnnen fields. You can see the Aran mountain towering in the distance. Well, that is it for the present. I shall finish off the story of my grandfather's visit to America, if anybody asks me. Until the next time. - I look forward to seeing you, here on the farm, in the future when you call to collect your order, maybe. Till that day, stay healthy and happy. Kind Regards. Maldwyn Thomas.
P.S. You may like the better pictures of my Father and Grandfather. - Just 'Click' on the ewe's head below. (I mean the sheep's head.) Hwyl. [Bi for now]

THE SHEEP BUTTON -To Front Page. CLICK ON HERE TO GO......'NEWS' PAGE - It's real busy for 2003
I have even started the ONLY Welsh Hill Farmers 'BLOG'!

And of course the web-site dedication to MY FATHER Gwynli Thomas & My GRANDFATHER Dafydd Thomas.


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