This article was written by Julie Blackburn for Isle of Man Newspapers and is reproduced with their kind permission.
Alan Teare and his partner Rachel Ranson, who farm at Ballakelly in Andreas, have turned their usual Christmas tradition on its head this year…
As you read this, the family will be enjoying their Christmas dinner a month early, and there are a number of very good reasons for that. First of all, Rachel’s brother Edward and his family are over from Amsterdam. Normally, Rachel says, they have turkey for their family Christmas dinner but this year it will be a rib of beef, grass-reared on their very traditional family farm and hung for six weeks to develop the full, mouth-watering flavour.
Alan and Rachel have recently started selling their lamb, pork and beef direct from the farm and this will be a highlight of Edward’s visit:
‘He can’t wait to try our beef: he’s a real foodie and he’s gutted that he’s missing out on all this meat living in Amsterdam,’ says Rachel.
She will have expert help with the cooking from her mum, Eileen ‘Mama’ Ranson, who used to teach home economics at Ramsey Grammar School.
‘Christmas, especially to my family, is family time. My mum regularly has 20 people round the table: she’s a massive believer that your families start round your table and that having a meal together is one of the most important things you can do as a family.’
Last Christmas Day they bought their son Harvey, who is nearly four, a ‘gator’ (a six-wheel quad bike) and all the children were outside in the fresh air playing on that whilst the meal was prepared. Rachel also breeds Connemara ponies at the farm and daughter Alice, better known as Tinky, likes to ride her pony, Ellie-May.
This Christmas Day, it will all be quite different because the family won’t be at home on the farm at all: they will be fulfilling a long held dream to spend Christmas in Lapland: Rachel has been saving £2 coins, which they nicknamed ‘Tinky-Twos’ for a trip there ever since Alice was born nearly six years ago:
‘To me, Christmas is magical and they’re at the age where they believe it – I can’t wait to see their faces!’ she says.
The farm and animals will be looked after by Jess Clague and Myles Rouse. Myles’ family are flying in from the Isle of Wight to stay at the farm with him and Rachel says they can’t wait to raid the meat fridge!
Jess and Myles are two of their ‘Ballakelly Meat Heroes’ as Alan and Rachel call friends and colleagues who have helped them get their new venture off the ground. Some of them were on the Ballakelly stand at the Isle of Man Food Festival where the official launch took place and all of them will be invited to a special Christmas party as a big thank you.
And as to what 2017 might bring for Rachel and Alan and the new business, she says:
‘Our dream is that Ballakelly meat will be specified on restaurant menus and that people will ask for Ballakelly steak by name…’
*Ballakelly beef, pork and lamb is available direct from the farm. Beef should be ordered five weeks in advance to allow for a proper hanging time
For more details visit their Facebook page or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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