Maple Field Milk — Is it still Winter?

30th January 2012

Every morning I wake to the din of a blackbird in a tall roadside Maple.  Have I missed something?  Some mornings the tractor windscreen is touched with frost – but not many.  The temperature wanders around 8-10 centigrade which is hardly wintry.  Snowdrops already build up a smooth froth on the south facing banks – and I have seen a russet glow forming on the willow.

I am wrestling with timber ‘firring pieces’.  Our local joiner has machined down some lengths of 4” x 2” to provide a straight guide for us to lay the floor screed to.  The firring tapers from 2” down to 11/2” over its length to give the finished floor a slight run, or flow, towards the drain.  That’s another local craftsman pulling his weight behind this enterprise.

The International Harvester 574 tractor is due to have its handbrake mended next week. I dare not start milking before the power source is totally reliable.  Fortunately I have found someone with the knowledge and the will, and someone brim-full with enthusiasm for the more Bronze Age tractor.  Again, we must – all of us, small-holders and townsfolk alike, marvel at, and encourage great men and women engineers and husband/people to continue their vital work in getting us all fed.  When the dairy is finished and the fresh milk is gushing through the system, we shall publish the list of everyone who was involved in bringing it off; let’s marvel at just who is behind a pint of milk on a supermarket shelf or on a damp doorstep in Hampshire.

A small farm near us keeps Swiss Brown cows and they process their milk for cheese. I hope to meet them next week and  find out more.  I do already feel part of a ‘movement’.

We are in discussions with an energy company to try and find a system to power the dairy entirely from the sun.

Secretary of State Caroline Spelman (DEFRA) told us last week that her Department  used only 18% British food to feed itself — the remaining 82% was sourced from abroad. What sort of example is that for other Departments ?

I have a book on the go at the moment called England in Particular by Sue Clifford and Angela King (2006) of Commonground ( which brings together all my interests and talks with deep knowledge about everything from the Dorset Coast to Dew Ponds.  The trouble is I just want to sit and read it !

G.K Chesterton in What’s wrong with the World says ….. “All men in history who have really done anything with the future had their eyes fixed upon the past” eg the Renaissance.

Nick Snelgar

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