Maple Field Milk – Making a Meal of It

I’ve been silent.  I’ve been ill for four weeks.  Now I’m back.

Everything became difficult.

On top of  a beastly respiratory illness, the van fell silent in a pool of engine oil. The cream separator developed a wobble.  Ruby the cow died leaving her orphan calf Ruben for us to feed.  The new grazing land two villages away became forbidden ‘terroire’ owing to TB reactors in the next door field.  That left us with 11 dairy cows  on three acres at Maple Field farm with the rain falling every day.  Talk about ‘mob grazing’  – the land quickly turned into a Nebraskan feed lot. We fed haylage and they lay around on piles of wheat straw. And it rained……….

Now I’m back and gripping the tiller.  We have negotiated  another grazing agreement on 58 acres of beautiful land for a period of five years.  On May 17th we shall move the herd and the milking bail over to the new land and get started.

We are recruiting a new driver for Mondays. There are now eight of us.  Five female and three male. Equal opportunity employers or what!

Nunton Farm dairy cows were out on grass the first week in February.  The spring calving half of the herd never go inside.  They out–winter on kale and barley straw on the high ground by the hospital.  In February/March they come down to the calving paddocks and gradually join the milking herd. They are Free Range 360! (360 days) This is a fab farm to work with.

Two Sundays ago on BBC Countryfile  I watched a young dairy farmer go out of business.  They were being paid 17p per litre. Maple Field Milk C.I.C.  pays Nunton Farm 40p per litre.  What a tragic waste. What a thing to happen to a strategic and vital industry. Séan Rickard (economist) looked upset. But he stuck to his line of     “That’s the market – supply and demand – get bigger” etc etc.

Anyone thinking of giving up – why not talk to us first. We might be able to show you another way before you throw yourself onto your teat-cup liner and cease trading.

Here’s a thought……Don’t march in protest – talk and convince. Talk and convince your customers. Talk and convince and laugh with them – add in the laugh…. “youre avin a laugh” (Ray Winston).

There is a mirage of marketing between you and the money. Walk towards the mirage and disperse it – SELL DIRECT.

The Balmer Lawn Hotel, Brockenhurst make butter from our cream and dust it with lava salt.  10 Castle Street, Cranborne make mozzarella cheese from our fresh, non-homogenised milk and we can eat it the next day.  Paul Thomas (cheese maker/teacher) takes 80 litres of whole milk down to River Cottage HQ to demonstrate cheese making. Fisherton Mill, BH24 and the Borough Café all make endless coffees  from our ‘stretched’ proteins. This is dairying. This could provide a future for the trade. Come to Nunton Farm on OPEN FARM SUNDAY 5th June.

Have a look at BH24 (BakeHouse24, Ringwood) on facebook and see what they are up to.

Listen to Nancy Kerr and the Sweet Visitor band……oh and The Milk ….     and the latest Bail FM obsession which is Madelaine Peroux.

How can it be the end of dairy farming? No it’s not…….It’s the beginning.

Nick Snelgar

May 1 2016

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