Maple Field Milk: makes the best lattes

13th October 2013

This is to do with resting after a Sunday processing run. Milk collected from Hannah at 8.30 am. Coolness of the morning appreciated and talked about. Both of us busy. Things to remember and get right. Feeding the people with fresh ‘ready to eat’ food is serious. Her cow with the pinched spine after calving is up and walking again thanks to her quick and immediate intervention. People sleep in Pentridge as we rush past with the bowser of fresh milk at 3.6 degrees centigrade bent on getting to the plant without a drop in temperature.

Pumps on. Pasteuriser up to temperature. Whirr and rush of machinery. Cooling tanks cooling………..Bail radio hitched to K.T.Tunstall new discovery totally devoted,  wonderful ……..white coats on, hair nets…….. We’re off.

Three hours later all that milk is pasteurised, bottled and ready for market, lying safely in the cool room at a steady 3 degrees.

Just before 7 am this morning that milk was still in the cow.  Three hours before that it was in the standing grass waiting for the dreadful rasp of Hannah’s cows reaching for their breakfast.  That’s how fresh all this is. Does it matter?  I certainly think so. Many nutritionists world wide think so. (K.T.Tunstall – ‘Invisible Empire’ – just listen! It’s on Bail FM now.)

Now the product is in the chill room and we can eat cheese and freshly made chiabata  and horseradish sauce from nearby. Chutney is providing the background fragrance in the cabin. Ribston Pippins and onions and green tomatoes swim about in a bath of righteous vinegar and brown sugar. Pete arrives with the ash logs, long promised and summer seasoned; their cut ends glowing pink with resin, with the chatter of the violent chain saw riven across their palms.  Autumn has arrived in a rush and a wheeze and a downpour.

The Thursday processing run brought a new life experience with it.  I was sterilizing the plant after bottling when I undid the ‘bleed’ valve at the top of the milk tube to make sure there was no air in the pipe.  It failed to fizz and germinate with air –like tributes so I undid it further.  It came off. It blew ceiling-wards at the velocity of a Crimean war bullet and fell into the balance tank of water at 82 degrees centigrade.  The pumps do not stop for anyone.  The plant must not cool down at all at this critical point. I plunge my right hand into the hot water and feel about till I find the bleed screw. I retrieve it and fix it back on to the ferocious fountain. I plunge my right hand into cold water and hope to save it from lobster paralysis.  Now I know first hand what these lobsters go through in smart restaurants.  Don’t do it again. Don’t overstretch the bleed screw. And I probably won’t.

We have lively Sasso white blobs of wild chicken running frantically around the grassland causing amusement to Myrtle who wants to tread on them in some gloomy ruminant back-thought from her wild prairie existence. The Sassos  give movement and meaning to the pasture. We have really got the housing arrangements sorted. I shall write a list of Sasso do’s and don’ts. Every one should have a flock of Sasso chickens for the table. I can show you.

I am having a fascinating time delivering fresh local milk. Everyone I meet loves it.  I run up two flights of stairs to the chiller in the George Inn, Fordingbridge, with a 20 kilo crate of milk in each hand. (Muscles like Popeye.) The new owner of the George Inn used to be a senior manager with Costa Coffee up London. She took me to one side and told me that she had never been offered such a fabulous milk product……….so fresh and dense. It makes the perfect coffee. There you go.

Keep it fresh and local.

Nick Snelgar

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