Maple Field Milk: Nothing need be a drudge farming

1st December 2012

The jersey dairy cows have grown luxurious woolly coats – they slope down to the ring feeder sporting these fresh ‘astrakan’ winter smoothies; well in place in Oxford Street or finer……….they look down their long noses at me in my slovenly green  overalls. This is suddenly winter time. The rain has stopped with a low ‘bath-plug’ gurgle; the meadow reflects back, mirror calm; the temperature has dropped like a stone to two below and dropping. The miracle workers of Futurefarms veg dept. managed to pick the first brussels sprouts of the season; managed to dig and wash fab carrots; to pick delicate ‘fern like’ kale; to pull coriander from a tunnel that had escaped the two below; managed to range three sorts of potato in smart black boxes and fine slender parsnips. How do they do it? How lucky are we to have such people in our midst.

Now the total of ‘new starts’ for the Dairy may have risen to four with the welcome letter from www.riverbournecommunityfarm.co.uk …..Check them out and see how exciting their interest might be. They are right into the core of Salisbury, (Wilts) education and could demonstrate the ‘nomad’ dairy system most widely – lets hope eh…….

The Bail band of the week is Rusted Root with their version of ‘Send me on my way’. I keep mentioning  music, and other interests, to underline the modernness of  farming and its attraction to people with diverse interests; and with the help of modern wireless technology we can all follow those interests. Nothing need be a drudge. If I am lonely on the ‘bail’ I can contact Motherearth News in  Kansas USA or  Joe Davy in Central China ……..It’s no longer seeing the world over the brow of a yard scraper. We are very lucky to live in this era.

The first hayledge is ripped open with a Stanley knife. The sweet aroma of winter breakfasts leaks forth. The astrakans burrow in and whisk out a sweet mouthful and drop a wink at the damp herdsman. The ring feeder has a new plastic cover to shed the incessant rain. I made it. If you google ‘ring feeder cover’ I don’t come up.

I called in on Den Lockyer this week to buy some rolled oats mixed with molasses for the cows as a minus 2C treat. He works a small windswept clay-capped farm on the way to Alderholt and has done for 70 years. He and his son continue to move the mud from one side to the other (his words) but this year was Den’s ‘parting of the Red Sea’ when he realised exactly what he was up against. His ‘mud’ became immoveable. His harvest could all fit into one corn trailer. His grass grew and could only be cut in small intermittent grasps. And now, worst of all, he has abandoned the planting of winter wheat altogether. Only 40% of the winter wheat has been planted in this region this autumn. Den has managed to save some spring barley of his own for seed. He will plant that in his fields this coming spring. But Den is visibly shaken (not stirred) by all this.

I have finished the HACCP document (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) to present to the Environmental Health Officer. I had the help of my friend and village enthusiast/adviser. Every village/community has its own weir pool of talent and everything can be done………covers for ring feeders even!

Nick  Snelgar

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