Friday, 27 May 2011

Quietly Saying No

Three ewes left to lamb and the ladies have been magnificent. Done it all themselves even to the extent that they have cleaned up afterwards. Only two, interestingly from the same blood line and same father deserted their lambs. It was like they didnt realise that this was a) something alive that needed assistance and b) was their flesh and blood. So we have (so far) two pet lambs called Pinto and Bortelini. Now Southdown lambs are not the prettiest of young - British understatement, they are bloody ugly with their Dennis Healey eyebrows and hairy knees but they are very appealing. So the two little motherless beans have to get fed from a bottle and I am now making up lamb formula milk by the bucket full because by gum these little things can eat. In making up their feed, I have to measure the dried milk powder out accurately and mix it with the correct amount of water. If not, we run the risk of seriously upsetting their lamb stomachs and this is not ground I wish to cover.

So every day I have to measure 100gr of milk powder for every 500ml of water. Now I have a great set of electronic kitchen scales. But they do need silver iodide batteries which I bought off the internet since this struck me as the most painless way to do it. The batteries arrived and it said on the packet "Made in China". My heart sank because it is my experience that things with this wording stamped on the packet tends to be unreliable, throw away rubbish.

Well, I forced my cynical unkind thoughts out my mind and embarked on my milk powder weighing career. Sure enough after day 3 the scales began to play up - the electronic read out flashing randon numbers and clearly not weighing properly. I sucked my teeth because this was a product that until coupled with suspect batteries has for years behaved in an exemplary fashion. A change of batteries (from the same pack) brought some but not lasting improvement.

I was suddenly reminded of that horrific human baby milk case in China where the manufacturers caused the death and serious illness of scores of babies by augmenting the milk powder with heavens knows what. I froze mid task and grabbed the bag of milk powder dreading that I was going to be faced with the same "Made in China" curse and the thought that maybe my lambs were going to suffer the same fate. To my relief, the lamb milk is manufactured in good old Yorkshire so all I had to worry about was the correct weighing.

But it got me thinking. I have not counted accurately but I reckon in any particular day or shopping expedition every second or third item I see on the shelf has been made in China and imported at great cost to our balance of payments. And all too often the product is total rubbish. Well, without becoming militant or fanatical about it, I have decided in my own quiet way that in future I am just going to say no. I am going to read each and every label and if it says "Made in China", I am going to put it back on the shelf. Further if I cannot find a product that is made elsewhere, I will just jolly well do without.

Perhaps if enough like-minded people begin doing the same, then the owners of the big famous brands who have outsourced their manufacturing to $1/day labour in China might begin to appreciate how they themselves are undermining the value and reputation of their brands.

In the meanwhile, I can hear Pinto Bean bleating for her Yorkshire milk. I will not keep her waiting.