He was born, farmed, and died at Dishley, much like his father before him. But Robert Bakewell, unlike most people, caught the improving mentality, or attitude — the one thing all inventors, both then and now, have in common — which had him viewing everything around him in terms of its capacity for betterment. The improving mentality was a reframing the status quo as a problem to solve. A habit of optimisation. A compulsion to perfect.
very interesting account of breed improvement, along with management practices, way back in 18th century. what is very interesting is the tradeoff he made between stall fed and grazed animals. today happy cow, happy milk moves a lot of farmers to organic grazed management practice as in Aarhus.
keep it up
Fascinating. Thank you!
By 1972, when doing fieldwork in Loughborough on a generous UMass scholarship, I asked a local headmaster how I could repay his staff's helpful kindness in my quest. "Buy them a steak dinner," he replied, "they don't see much meat anymore".
Thank you very much for this excellent article - the first of your writings that I have stumbled across.
When it comes to 18th Century diaries I find myself continually reading and re-reading Casanova’s 12 volume l’Histoire de ma Vie.
Thank you once again.
Wonder how Bakewell would have gone about during the BSE catastrophe.
Super interesting. Is the diary generally available in print?
Rather than an exemplum about the virtue of improvement, this is much more a cautionary tale about blind optimization according to reductionist economic standards. As other commenters note, these particular innovations had knock-on effects that degraded the agricultural environment and the meat's nutritional value.