17th January 2012
Last week I ordered the ‘Parlour Board’ to line the walls of the dairy processing room. I am worried about the fixings. The PVC (3mm thick) sheets (8’ x 4’-1200mm x 2400mm) come with 22 plastic ‘raw plug’ type fixings which means you have to drill the pristine, shiny, expensive sheets 22 times ! Could we glue it place, I ask. The suppliers don’t know because they have never done it. I feel nervous about perforating a ‘hygiene’ barrier like this 22 times. More elaborate research needed before we attempt this task. But on the good side – I have finished the final drawing of the ‘walk-in cold room’. We are going to make our own clunk-fit cold room doors with a heavy catch from France and 100mm of insulation fixed to the back of a half-hour fire- check plywood flush interior door which we can buy on ‘special’ for £25. A firm of ‘cool’ engineers quoted £1000 per clunk-fit door. Do I sense a saving coming on here?
On the Milking Bail, we have made a couple of adjustments already. Michael the ex-dairyman said that a sprightly heifer might jump straight over one of the ‘exit’ gates; we have welded a bar on the top of the gate to stop that. But the biggest stride forward has been the solving of the power –take-off conundrum. Much rummaging in deep tea chests full of Bronze Age tractor parts has produced the perfect adaptor to connect the vacuum pump drive to the International Harvester tractor. Now we can gather an audience of enthusiasts and test the machinery. I have several worries. One is the noise of the air pump whose exhaust pipe disappears underneath the bail. Another is the ease by which we can connect the tractor to the bail since I want the operation to be well within reach of everyone.
Once again full scale engineering was used to cut the threads on some old metal pipework. It was done on a tripod in the driveway by a complete genius. This contraption is built to last. The neat blue pipework is adorned with cheerful gauges and relief valves and shiny metal taps that would look at home in a Victorian gas works.
Who would have thought that a hand operated bottle filler would be so difficult to find? I have moved aside into Micro-breweries to see if there is a cross-over where we could use their equipment to solve our problem.
NOTES TO THE SIDE:
Michael Duroc the part time boar has packed up his sponge bag and moved off the holding to live his promiscuous life somewhere else, leaving us I hope with three pregnant sows. The pig pen has settled down into a period of ‘confinement’ and contentment and I no longer have the fear of being bitten or chased. In the spring we could be overrun with piglets – lets hope.
I am repeatedly fascinated by the respect the cows have for my electric fences. Can this last? What a wonderful invention. When was it invented?
Book of the fortnight is without any doubt – ‘Good Food for Everyone Forever ‘ by Colin Tudge (2011). I know this sounds like a quick ‘crawl’ to the editor but this is a complete ‘must’ for anyone with an interest in what is going to happen to us. It is not in the slightest bit ‘dark’ about the future of farming: it provides human sized answers to the problems of production bolstered with solid science and a life time of thought. It is above all an optimistic read and most comforting to a novice herdsman with the westerly wind whistling up his overalls.
Who wants to witness the drowning of the Harnham watermeadows (near Salisbury) on February 18th? More next time.