26th August 2012                  


It rained yesterday like a Caribbean cyclone .Standing corn leaned over under the deluge. What I noticed was this.  Arable gateways onto the roads were marked out with muddy wheel tracks leading away from the harvest field to the grainstore. Normally tracks marked out in dust and wispy straw – chaff even – but seldom in mud !

Close by, a pea/wheat/oil seed rape farmer watched his 2012 pea harvest rustle over the combine shakers and plop on the ground behind the very modern combine because the peas were too small and too  light to be saved  . Bring back the ‘gleaners’. Why can’t a modern combine have its shakers turned right down to accommodate the smallest pea ?

Even modern people get caught out. Dairy cows loll about in summer wonder,  knee deep in grass.” Now shall I have a breakfast of cocksfoot or hawkweed or perhaps a little quaking grass ‘to go….” The pressure is off the hogs . No sun – no sunburn and best off , all masses of mud. Futurefarms have harvested a fantastic crop of onions which are drying in the new polytunnel -probably approaching the best we’ve had (since 2003).So all is never lost with diverse crops.

All the rest of the dairy equipment arrives this coming Wednesday from Lancashire …..all from Keith Birtwhistle ,Lancashire farmer and enthusiast dairy processor, provider and  dairy-aid-worker for the ‘soft southerner’ . Then we shall have a full set. A full deck .  Geoffrey, with terrifying  modesty, will fix it all together using experience and skill gained over 4 decades of dairy engineering. What a team. I find it difficult not to live on  a  building site with the roar of the cement mixer and the deafening background of Simply Red on max .

This week more discussions with Ian Crouch for the processing of some of his milk going direct to a big customer that has approached us for ‘direct local fresh milk’ .We are battling through the knotweed of payment schedules/price per litre/ tests and more tests .Above all……..it could be fab. Milk not an hour over 2 days old. Rich and creamy or not depending on taste. Nutritionists going into swoons over the nourishment .Not a food mile in sight.

Not only Ian……….. but Ben, from the sumptuous grass meadows of the River Stour. Ben only went into dairy in order to sell his own stuff direct but can’t quite face the processing….. so would we do it for him ?……….Well –  this is exactly what we hoped would happen.

At Maple Field we have created something from scratch. Something from nothing.  The wooden buildings are already home to sparrows, mice and bats. The human neighbours may disapprove but the wild creatures can immediately see the point.  The dairy cows see the point . Well anyway they see the cocksfoot.

Futurefarms has done a wonderful thing. Groups have formed that were not groups before. The chicken group moved the 3 huts the other night ,pegging out the fences, towing the huts and reconnecting the water . Then when it was finished they set about a barbeque in the field under the towering cumulus clouds over Drove End field .This is a group with the common interest in chickens. This ,more than the food produced, might be the greatest achievement.

The bail sound system has become interested in Noah and the Whales ……’.2 atoms in a molecule’ in particular. Can this do any harm to the hearing of a dairy cow ?


Published on Aug 26, 2012

Grit Magazine

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