Milk, Milk, Milk!

Milk, Milk, Milk!

Opinion

Don't want to read my thoughts? Go straight to the synopsis/TL;DR

Ok, so Grandad is on his high horse again! This time it's about milk.

For several years now farmers have been paid a dwindling price for their milk. It is now at the point where up and down the country farmers are taking the situation into their own hands by taking all of the the milk from supermarket shelves.

There are 2 questions that we should be asking.

  1. Are we willing to pay more for our milk if it means keeping British dairy farmers in business?
    Please fill in the simple poll form to the right and we will see the general consensus together
  2. What can we do to help the farmers out

Are you willing to pay more?

Here's the £64,000 question: Are you willing to pay more for your milk if it supports UK farmers? Currently many of them are going out of business as they are paid less for their milk than it takes to produce it.

What can we do to help UK farmers?

I've tried, oh how I've tried

That's right: I've already tried to get more farmer friendly milk.

Attempts

Tweets: I have sent a number of tweets about this subject and I have to say that the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers have been no help whatsoever.

Here are some examples

Research: I did a bit of research into how to get more “ethical” milk but there was hardly any information out there at all. All I could find were suggestions to visit Farmer's markets etc. This is all when and good when you aren't working every day but it's quite hard to fit in with a full work schedule and a family. We did try and we at least found our local farmer's market (which is awesome by the way). The problem is that they only had about 5 x (2L) bottles of milk at a time and we need that many per week.

The one thing I did discover is that Marks & Spencer pay the best price to the dairy farmers that they use. For this reason I bought our milk from M&S for several weeks until I stopped taking Rowan to school and then it was again inconvenient for me/us to get it from there. As this press release states:

An image of a glass with milk being poured into it

Just a glass of milk

“This increase will be welcomed by all M&S dairy producers. The M&S milk pricing model, Milk Pledge Plus, provides us with a transparent and fair price that reflects the cost pressures we face. It returns a market-leading milk price in exchange for market-leading farm production and health and welfare standards, and is a great example of a retailer working with producers in a mature way to deliver consumer benefits from a supply chain in a sustainable way.”

Milkman: My latest effort is to try and find a local milkman (or woman of course) who can deliver the milk to us. Whether that be delivering a job-lot weekly or daily.
I have emailed one milkman (with no reply) and I'll email more tomorrow.

Do you have any suggestions

How about you folks out there? Do you have any suggestions on how to get milk that will not bankrupt our National farmers?
I don't want to pay pittance for milk for high corporate supermarkets who drive their suppliers out of business. I saw in a BBC interview earlier an Asda spokesman say that it was the farmers own dairy that they owned that set the price. Whilst this may be correct it is big corporations like Asda who drive the price down with their massive buying power.

Synopsis TL;DR

The UK farmer's are being driven out of business because supermarkets use their “super” buying power in order to drive their purchase price down.

There is no-where near enough information out there about how to go about giving our farmers the business that they need. I have tried several methods of acquiring milk from more “ethical” sources but as yet I have not found a decent sustainable alternative for the working family.

I am too busy to travel miles and miles in order to pick up milk. I want to pay more so that I can give more value to the farmer's of this great Kingdom.

If you didn't read the rest of the article then I urge you to fill in the little poll on the right of this page in the sidebar. It will help us to find out what percentage of my readers would pay more.

Lastly: As I want as many participants in the poll as possible don't forget to share this post so that together we can get the widest possible coverage for the poll as possible.

Thanks; and once again it's over to you.

Thank God for my legs and my life

Thank God for my legs and my life

Death Personal War

From driving habits to bombs with a 5 year old

On our walk up to school today Rowan and I started talking about people’s driving habits. This led on to me telling him about when I used to drive a big van with blue lights on it. This in turn led me to explain to Rowan about bombs and my time in Iraq as part of the bomb disposal team.

We ended up chatting about bombs and what they do and it brought to the very front of my mind how lucky I am to not only have my life but in particular my legs.

Going to camp DogWood with The Black Watch

As part of the bomb disposal team based an a small Hell-hole called Al-Amarah in Iraq which lies about half way between Basra and Baghdad we were tasked with the IEDs from a wide geographical area. One of the opportunities we had was to support the feared and infamous Black Watch [1][2] on their trip up north to Camp DogWood. The team and I (well the Boss) tried his best to get us on the job but we were not chosen and it was decided from high up that another IED team should take the task on.

The bad news came

As we had not been chosen for the job we just carried on with our normal taskings and in the coming days we received the news that the team that had been assigned the task had been hit by a vehicle borne IED (suicide bomber).

As well as 3 members of The Black Watch losing their lives [1][2] the members of the IED team who was doing my job as well as another member of the Royal Corp of Signals had lost their legs. If memory serves me correct the soldier doing my job was standing behind the door of a Warrior Armoured Vehicle. If he had not been then he may well have lost his life.

These two Soldiers were Mick Brennan and Neil Heritage.

This made us all very sad: not just for our fellow IED Regiment members but especially for the 3 who had made the ultimate sacrifice. It could well have been our team who was in that position and in particular it could have been I that was injured and now without my legs.

An image of many poppies

Picture courtesy of The Royal British Legion – The fallen will always be remembered by those who appreciate their sacrifice

Remembering all of this made me quite sad (but very thankful) this morning and upon returning from my walk from the School-run I started to look into this further. Initially this was just to confirm my own memories. As it happens the soldier who was doing my job started to ski as part of his rehabilitation and has represented the UK in the Sochi Winter Olympics [1][2].

I then began to dig deeper and found him on Facebook. Upon messaging him it turns out that unlike me he is not at all down about what happened.

Thank God for my legs and my life

All of this makes me thank God for my legs but also for the fact that I am alive and I have the love and support of those around me.

Although I do have PTSD, I feel no guilt over this particular subject: I have a very matter of fact view of it. I feel no guilt as there was nothing I could have done to change the situation. Nothing I would have done would have meant that we could have been sent to that job. All the circumstances that played out were beyond the control of our team.

To forget or not to forget…that is the question!

Although on one hand I wish I could forget my times on certain far off lands, on the other hand I never wish to forget a single moment of my time in these very same countries. They remind me of how lucky any of us are to be alive; to have loved ones around us and also reminds me of the good that I have done with my life.

On reflection. If I had the choice between remembering or not remembering I would definitely choose to remember. There are many quotes I could point to such as:

  • “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” – George Santayana
  • “Only by remembering the past can we avoid repeating it” – John Evans (2014)

but in essence they come down to this. It would be an insult to all those who have fallen protecting their way of life if we were to forget the sacrifice they made on our behalf.

Pain Level Monitoring website

Future Sites & Ideas

Sometimes when one has chronic pain it is good if one can keep an eye on one's pain levels. This can be good for a number of reasons

  1. When visiting a Doctor or specialist it is good if you can provide them with a graphical representation or not only when you pain was bad but when your pain was at it's least troublesome.
  2. It helps to identify patterns that we as Humans in pain may not spot otherwise
    • How much do the pain killers actually reduce the pain by?
    • How long do the pain killers last for?
    • Were you aware that your pain is always at it's worst a few hours after you do your physio exercises?
  3. It provides health care professionals with much more information that you can convey in conversation

Personal Experience

Around 5 years ago I had a customer built CMS which had at it's heart an in-depth pain level feature. It reminded me every 30-60 minutes to enter my pain levels and I had to remember to manually enter specific information such as when I ate; what meds I took; my sleep patterns etc and at the end (or whenever I requested one) I could print out a nice chart with all the information on it I needed. It included a legend that told the person viewing it what all the symbols meant (such as taking food in; went to sleep etc).

When I took this to my Doctor as part of the process of trying to figure out why I was in so much pain he was amazed and told my that this provided him with too much information to take in there and then but it would prove to be very useful. He asked if he could keep it to view when he had a spare ten minutes and after that he told me that it was part of his decision to send me to a specialist for an MRI scan.

The Plan

Well for this project I am going to re-create and expand on that simple tool I used back then. Planned features include

  • A Wiki
  • A link to the main input form will always be in the main menu
  • A Google Chrome extension so that you do not have to have the site loaded in order to input data
  • A medication reminder
  • An API
  • Export to PDF, CSV etc for portability
  • Different Profiles (should you wish to keep back pain separate from say Neck pain)
  • Personal profile so that you can get advice on your environment eg you need to drink more water
  • Import data eg from a running device
  • iOS and Android apps enabling you to both enter information and get charts etc when you are away from home (these are planned for when enough income has been generated to pay for them)
  • Share or email the charts/graphs (handy to send them to your medical practitioner prior to appointments)
    1. Reason for the site

      In the future (app. 6 months) I may be having an operation to set me rouge disc in my spine back into place and pin it there. Currently I am experiencing severe pain resulting from trapped nerves. Part of the process of managing the pain is in my mind knowing all about it. Knowledge (as they say) is power. It helped me before to maximise on the things that made the pain better and minimise on the things that made them worse – I see no reason why it cannot do the same again.

      Conclusion

      I'm sure that you'll agree that this is a fantastic project and I can assure you that there is currently no such facility widely available on the internet that offers what I'm proposing.

      If you have any feedback or think of any features that I have not come up with please feel free to comment below. I shall take all suggestions seriously and consider this to be my pet project for the foreseeable future.