3rd September 2015
Achievement of the week – we have had our figures and projections and future plans picked apart and seriously analysed by a fab specialist. Robert Fraser, whose CV reads like the captain of an economic battlecruiser with particular experience and interest in agriculture and its immediate future, did the job.
How could anyone possibly make anything approaching a profit from milking 22 cows?
Well Maple Field Milk looks like they can do it. The processing side alone turns a profit. This is profit whilst paying the farmer 40p a litre over the gate. It follows that our new micro-herd of 22 will pay the herdsperson at the same rate. Profit will be generated sufficient to repay a start-up loan; certainly able to present a serious business plan to a potential landowner/farmer in order to rent land; certainly able to start in dairy farming from scratch.
The International Harvester 574 has an ominous ring of AF spanners (American Fine) arranged on its bonnet like an Anglo-Saxon necklace. They are waiting for someone to bark their knuckles on its lovely old engine.
I’m trying to listen to Soud Massi singing “Enta Ouzahrek”. Myrtle keeps trying to interrupt. It is best listened to through head phones. She would look ridiculous in head phones.
Spiders are reminding me it’s autumn with sudden floating nets dragging across my face. Oh…and Myrtle is eating blackberries.
The George Inn, Fordingbridge, have reached a total weekly usage of fresh local milk equivalent to the output of one cow per week. The chef and his four kitchen staff went mad with excitement. “Can we call it Georgina?”. “Can it have a purple hair-do like My Little Pony?” “Can we tether it on the river bank?” “Who’s going to milk it?”. This is where it’s going. This is enthusiasm. This is connection. Suddenly people are wanting their own ‘house cow’ again. Does it matter? Of course it matters. The enemy of all-round cheapness can be dissolved in the soft alkali of enthusiasm. People can see the point. Maple Field Milk is sliding into Fordingbridge and onto the citizen’s doorsteps like an incoming tide. Sandbag your houses against the flood of fresh local milk.
‘Farmers For Action’ David Hanley wrote an article in the Farmer’s Weekly in which he said that someone should sit down and work out how much milk each family in Britain uses. I agree with him. When I’ve changed the fuel filters on the International Harvester 574 and bandaged up my knuckles I’ll make a start on the sums. I keep chanting, whilst following Simon of Nunton on a religious progress through ankle deep grass (sternly waving a bucket of steaming molasses instead of incense)……. ‘if you can’t sell it – don’t produce it’.
The secret seven new fab cows arrive at Maple Field Farm on Tuesday bringing with them our future and wearing a rich and famous past. They will pass under an arch of raised syringes as our vet practice presents arms on their celebrated and long awaited arrival…..testing for every disease known to vets. We want to be a totally clean herd and totally modern.
This is it. We are dairy farmers. No going back. This is it. Martin Parish will become the only village in Hampshire – probably in Britain with its own herd; its own processor; and its own community farm – Futurefarms-Martin Ltd. It can be done.