73 Cows (2018) Movie Script

You're quite feral really
being on a farm,
as soon as you can toddle,
you're outside,
running amongst the cows,
as far as it was safe.
Quite an outdoor life really.
My grand dad was
an engineer, and...
my ambition was to work at Rolls-Royce,
following his footsteps.
But for various reasons I completely failed
at school so that wasn't an option.
I think when you're
young, you copy...
what other people do,
particularly when you've
got a strong father figure,
and he is running a farm.
There are ways to handle
farm animals that...
you have to follow simply
to get the job done.
I began to sort of feel...
conscious of the fact
that the animals had feelings
and led to feelings of unease about
actually eating them when we raised them.
You realise they do
have personalities, and...
they experience the world.
They're not just...
robots that eat
and sleep.
I couldn't disconnect that feeling of
having to get the job done
from the fact that they were individuals
rather than just units of production.
More than a number, really.
I came to Bradley Nook Farm in 2006,
as a student who had to go to an
English-speaking country for an assignment.
And I chose to drop city life
two months and work on a farm.
Jay was talking about how he doesn't like very much
what he's doing with the cattle farming,
and that he really would like
to do something different.
And by the end of the 2 months, he said:
Why don't you come, live with me
and we start something
completely different?
I came here with the intention of
changing the farm to something that
would not involve taking
animals to the abbatoir.
Taking them to the abbatoir, which is
what we often did being small farmers,
we only had 1 or 2 animals to be
slaughtered at any one time,
you felt as if you were
betraying them
because you made friends
with them, if you like.
And so to, all of a sudden, one day
load them into a trailer,
something they've not
experienced before.
And you knew you were
taking them to...
what must be a terrifying...
It was soul-destroying,
that's how we felt...
It was...
It was very
difficult to do, but...
wanting to keep the farm...
working as a farm,
I just needed to keep doing it
until I could find what else to do.
I had come
10 years ago
to do something different with
the farm, and for various...
reasons it had
not happened yet.
I just wanted Jay to get to the position
where he can do something different
because it is so obviously...
destroying him.
Looking at Jay
and seeing what
being trapped in this kind of life
did to him was quite painful.
We often got so tense that
we started having arguments
because nobody could
cope with the situation.
I think I'm more capable to
harden my heart than Jay
just out of
sheer necessity.
I had a more
utilitarian outlook:
we have to do this, and this is what we do,
and if we don't do it, then we don't pay the bills.
But you know...
you know what you're doing,
and it's horrible.
It became clear that
we really have to find a solution.
What we can do with the farm,
to keep the farm,
to keep the wildlife on the farm...
and to get out of cattle farming.
It had been suggested
from various sources that...
the best solution would just
to sell up and go away.
Selling up the farmyard
in 2 fields and...
taking the money for so many houses
being built and walking off rich people
was not something
that we wanted to do.
After my father died,
I didn't have the excuse of
keeping him happy by...
maintaining the farm as he wished.
But I simply didn't know
what else to do.
At first, we installed a
small number of solar panels
thinking that was
a way to offset...
the environmental impact
of the farm.
Then we tried to get planning permission
for wind turbine...
but that was refused.
Somebody told me that you can
produce vegetables and crops...
without animal inputs,
so you don't feel that you're
implicating animals in your food production.
It sounded excitingly different
and it felt like the future.
It was actually quite
stressful to then...
quickly come up with details,
seeing the architect
and discussing things,
what is possible,
what do we have
to do to get there...
And to come up with some kind of plan so that
we would not plunge into a complete black hole
and, basically, drop the farming
and end up with nothing.
We had the farm assessed...
and we knew that we can do something different
with the farm and it would be viable.
When you're born on a farm,
when your parents have found the farm,
you want to make
things at least as...
good as that have
been previously.
You don't want to feel that
you've been responsible for...
things degrading
and literally falling apart.
Scary, because it seems so far out
after a lifetime of animal farming to say:
OK, you can manage without
any animals at all
by vegan organic agriculture.
As winter came to an end,
we started to think:
We've got all these cows on the farm,
what will happen to them?
Will we send'em to market
or maybe send'em to slaughter ?
And I said: Well, that wouldn't be a good way
to start vegan farming.
We'll try and find'em
places at sanctuaries.
But it will take a long time.
We've got to...
organize this and deal with
the reality of the...
cows leaving the farm.
And it's going to be
a massive change.
You sort of think:
Am I doing the right thing ?
It was quite scary for me because...
I was kind of rejecting everything
I've known 'till that day, really.
To do something as radical as
getting rid of the livestock from the food chain
seemed threatening to
most of agriculture I think.
It kind of distanced us from
the other farmers in the area.
In fact the farm was
nicknamed the funny farm
by some local residents.
I think...
that it's largely understimated
what pressure farmers feel.
I think they could do with more support
to look at things differently
rather than being attacked.
The cost that we had been burdened with
from doing what we're doing is,
basically, losing the money that we would've made
from sending the animals to slaughter,
which would've been, roughly,
40 to 50 thousand pounds.
Accepting that we would lose the income from
selling the cattle was not difficult at all,
trusting that there are enough people out there
who appreciate what we're doing,
appreciate what
we're trying to do,
and who are
willing to support us.
It seemed that it would
take a long time before...
places were found
for the animals.
And we'll have to
allocate 6 here, and 1 or 2...
And to know the sanctuaries
is going to take a long time.
It took a lot of planning,
it took an awful lot of phone calls...
I assume that it was
stressful for Jay as well,
but he doesn't
express that so much,
but I know that
I was terribly stressed.
So we were amazed
when they phoned and said
Hillside, in Norfolk,
can take the entire herd.
Altogether, at one go.
Calves and cows
can stay together,
and all the family groups
can be preserved.
It's an absolutely
dream outcome,
that they can all
stay together and...
live out the
rest of their lives.
We were very,
very pleased.
The day after
our cattle had gone,
we received the first
postcards and letters
from people saying how
wonderful what we are doing,
and a lot of people said
You have restored my faith in humanity.
We have now finally managed to
achieve the change that I
came here to help with
in the first place and,
although we're still working on it
and have not got the end result yet,
it's quite a different
thing to manage...
making plans
rather than just
the same old, same old, that
you are not really convinced of.
I do think that
it has changed Jay.
The biggest change is...
I think that he talks more
about what he's thinking,
what he's planning
and what we're doing.
And that is just
so beautiful to see.
I am not looking on how
Jay is destroying himself,
but we're actually working together
to build up something that is really good
and that we both
are convinced of.
And that is a good thing...
that is a good thing.
You can tell
they sort of...
You know, they don't belong to
me anymore somehow.
Everything that bothered me about
the process of farming in the past,
all that burden,
every responsibility...
was lifted.
It was just such a relief to know
that the animals are being looking after,
have a happy cowy life
for the rest of their lives.
I know it
sounds soppy, but
it was a joy, really,
to learn that...
the ones who were
still living on the farm
were going to be
saved, literally,
and enjoy
just being cows.