The next generation of farmers at Lane End Farm Shop learning the value of money

Darwin, Lydia and Sam are learning about the value of money through their grandfather Martin Hare.

Grandfather Martin Hare runs Lane End Farm

They each have a sow at Lane End Farm in Tong, near Bradford; and they are soon to have ten hens apiece.

Pig and egg production will provide them with pocket money and what Martin hopes will be good business sense as they grow up.

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They will be following in the footsteps not just of their grandfather but their great grandfather too, as Martin is keen to point out.

“My dad, Thomas, was well known as a butcher at Rawson Market in Bradford. He and my mum, Agnes, had Lane End Farm and I grew up here on its 30 acres. Dad would buy-in cattle, sheep and pigs to fatten for finishing and then sell the meat in Bradford.

“I always wanted to farm, and with another farm we rent next door we now have around 120-130 acres. I like my animals to have a life. I like the old-fashioned ways of farming and producing livestock that has a bit of fat. I think too many of today’s TV chefs have pushed lean meat a bit much. Animals get that all-important bit of fat on them by being kept a bit longer too.”

Ten and a half years ago, Martin and his wife Arlene opened Lane End Farm Shop. They had opened up out of a caravan in 2008, but the building complete with butchery and substantial car park brought Martin back to his dad’s roots. Since lockdown their world has been non-stop on the farm and in the farm shop.

“It’s been murder in terms of how chaotic it has been,” says Martin. “We’ve had constant queuing outside the shop, around the car park and back out on to the road every day.

“We really hope that people we have never seen before will keep coming. We’ve never known a time like it.”

While the current situation is seeing the farm shop go through its craziest time, with the number of beasts required for the shop per week almost at Christmas levels, Martin still makes time for his livestock and getting to livestock markets with one of his daughters, Sally.

His other daughter, Tara, works in the shop and is currently looking after their social media which has seen their number of followers on Facebook escalate from less than 1,000 to 4,500.

“We have pedigree cattle,” says Martin. “Four Dexters, two Beef Shorthorns and two Highlands and they all look good for the customers.

“We have them outside next to the shop. I also buy Limousin X and Charolais X at 10-12 months. I keep them for 12 months. We have around 100-120 on at any one time and we’re just upping numbers because of demand.

“I have a lambing flock of 60 Texel X breeding ewes that I lambed in February, which give around 90-100 lambs each year. I like to keep a constant flow of lamb and mutton in the shop and I’ve just bought 80 ewes with lambs at foot. There are about 160 lambs from those.

“A lot of what I’ve bought in are the older ewes that can then be fattened and go to mutton, which has become really popular again. You’ve just got to know how to cook it – slow and long. I also buy-in 150 store lambs in the autumn to over winter so that I maintain my supply of lamb throughout the year.

“Sally and I buy cattle and sheep at Bentham livestock market. We like them from there because they’ve had a good life in the countryside on grass and then they can come to us where we have good quality grass to fatten them.”

Gilts are bought from father and son pig farmers Stephen and Jason French of West Tanfield.

“They do a fantastic job rearing pigs loose in the yard and we take on their Saddleback X Durocs that make great gilts.

“We had 39 pigs between the three of them at their second litters recently. We need all the pork we can get at the moment for the shop as our sales have more than doubled.

“The farming job can be so up and down. That’s why Arlene and I moved into the farm shop game. It’s the best move we could have made in terms of sustainability for the farming operation, but it’s hard work and it has been absolutely manic ever since lockdown.

“We are now opening at 10am each day because it takes us that time beforehand in a morning to make sure we have everything prepared and right for the demand we are seeing.

“I’m at the green market in Bradford for 5am five days a week. We’ve had a few moments with customers, but I think everyone has become a lot more chilled out about the way things are now.”

Martin believes in putting his grandchildren to good use.

“I even get them to help me sort the fat lambs – and they all love getting their farming overalls on, or butchers’ outfits!”