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Maldwyn Thomas's Yearly Chat MAGe.zine.
*2005* ~ We are getting very cosy in our
'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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org - 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.
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.
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 email@example.com - 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.
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
Our 2004 order's are shaping up to be
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.
2004 ~ Spring is Bburrssstinggg Out
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'.
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. 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!
It a great time of the year.
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.
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
The 2003 Farm News!
Some great improvements - We
have replaced the meat photographs on the Shop Page with some
professional shots, 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. 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. 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
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! 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
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.
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. 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 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. 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? 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. 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.
Maldwyn Thomas. Spring 2003.
About the Farm.
Well now.... Where to start. Firstly,
maybe it would be wise to explain the name of the
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.
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
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.
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. 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. 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. 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. 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
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! 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. "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. 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.
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]
CLICK ON HERE TO GO......'NEWS' PAGE -
It's real busy for 2003
I have even started the ONLY Welsh Hill
And of course the web-site
dedication to MY FATHER Gwynli Thomas & My GRANDFATHER Dafydd
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