14 Aug Back at the Dairy
For the last couple of weeks I have split my time between Toad’s Mill and milking the cows back in Salisbury on my family’s dairy farm. Having not wanted to get kicked prior to the wedding and then living in wedded bliss this was the first time I had set foot back in the parlour for 7 weeks. I have to say I had missed it, the sound of the milking machine, the shuffle of the girls, even the smell. I of course had not missed the early 3am starts or being a well-aimed poo target, but there is something special about being the only one on the farm with these wonderful animals at that time of the day.
Our cows are milked twice a day through a 25/50 swing over parlour, basically this means there are 25 girls on either side of you, with 25 milking clusters down the centre. One side of cows is milked first and then the units are swung over to the other side. A continuous pattern until all 305 cows are fed, milked and sent back out to the field. It is very hard physical work, but the bonus is I can eat as much cake as I like and not put on weight!
You have to really love being a farmer and be fully committed. Last week I would have much preferred to stay put on the sofa after the morning milking, but instead I donned my waterproof dungarees and not so waterproof coat and headed back to the farm to get ready for an afternoon in the parlour. The girls were very keen to come in from the field, enjoying the weather about as much as I was, I carried on, moving the fence ready for the next feed, checking the water trough and ushered the last stragglers into the yard, all whilst the heavens remained fruriously open. My brother knows every cow by number just by looking at them, both from the front looking at their lovely faces, from the side looking at their fat tummies, and of course from the rear. Some have names, his favourite is Edelweiss, a lovely ten year old and very chilled out Brown Swiss, she is an absolute beauty. He has lovingly cared for and looked after our cows since leaving the Royal Ag in 2004, taking few holidays and working tirelessly to make sure the girls are in top health on our dairy herd.
I am looking forward to being back down to see the cows again in October when my brother will take his first holiday since November. It certainly is a different way of farming to our beloved Spelt, both have their own unique challenges, but both are highly enjoyable and help to keep our wonderful country farming and producing safe, sustainable food.
Mrs Toad xx