Maple Field Milk — 4 Days Later

30th September 2012

Four days after the last blog entry we received the most fantastic news from the Planning Inspectorate.  We had won our Appeal. We are  allowed to inhabit our part-built wooden cabin. The New Forest Planning Department had been found to ‘exhibit unreasonable behaviour’  towards this citizen.   Costs were awarded to the appellant.

All the local vehement opposition was found to be quite simply – wrong.

Yesterday we bought a second-hand wood-burning stove found in the village of Sutton Waldron, Dorset. I walk about in the cabin feeling the lazy ‘give’ of the timbers and I dream of, quite soon, sitting by the stove as it eats through an ash bough cut from the Enclosure Act hedge that surrounds Maple Field.

In the sheeting rain of a typical summer’s day, Leon Birtwhistle climbed out of his transit truck in just a vest and light jeans — no hat. He had driven non-stop from Lancashire with my two stainless steel milk tanks. Unperturbed by the driving, lashing rain he unstrapped the bonds and signalled to me on the International Harvester 574. Just a brief northern understated hand signal. I was ready, dressed like the helmsman on a Cornish R.N.L.I lifeboat. Together we lifted the heavy tanks off the truck bed and round to the double doors of the barn. The Kings of Leon gabbled instructions to me, about pumps and valves and rain-soaked piles of fittings,  in sweet low Lancashire then thanked me for the tea and set off back to the north country. I have been barking my shins on the ingredients ever since with no idea what to do next.

The other great cause for celebration is the influx of a mob of track-and-field white chickens that sprint up and down the pasture all day long biting off vegetation in dinosaur beak-fulls. This is the Joe Salatin North American ‘pasture poultry’, following the herd of cows and being free as birds. It simply looks right. I’ll keep an eye on this and tell you how much it costs to raise a 2.5 kilo bird by this outdoor method.

My favourite job is to move the electric fence each day to allow the dairy cows into a fresh piece of pasture. Each time they pick off the sow thistles first. Then the clumps of cocks foot grass. Isn’t that interesting that they go for the herbs first. I have seen this on Pasture Promise TV. They call it self-medication.

I have met a man from Devon. A cheese maker. He can dismantle a Mallinson MR500 H.T.S.T Pasteurizing Plant in the time it takes to shake a stick. Everything is possible. I keep finding people who are full of enthusiasm and ready to help.

Rachel Hosier, the great grand-daughter of A.J. Hosier, lent me her copy of her ancestor’s book HOSIER’S FARMING SYSTEM by A.J.Hosier OBE.HON.LLD.(Cantab)  (Crosby Lockwood & Son.)  1951 and this has to be the book of the month. I have read it twice. It starts….. “I was borne in 1877.”……

He farmed through a very interesting time and invented things and threw out ideas right alongside his successful farming career. His mobile milking bail being the greatest.

A have a date with BBC Radio Solent next Tuesday to talk about ‘local’ food and the prospects for new micro-dairies. The interview will be early in the morning so have a listen.

Nick  Snelgar

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