DOWNPOUR: GRAIN HARVEST HARDLY BEGUN
By Nick Snelgar
What is going to happen to us ? I heard the rain drilling through the caravan roof last night and I could’nt sleep after it. Ripe cereals sway and drag against one another feeling dismal with the rain. I drove to the Welsh borders yesterday and from horizon to horizon there were fields exhibiting an astonishing deep brownness flecked with a wheezy fungal imprint . We need two weeks of frisky breezes from the east and the north – enough to send pretty girls running down the streets of county towns in bright summer skirts while the grain farmers watch their moisture meters stabilize around the correct ‘percentage’. Only then can the circus of combines and ‘ followers’ start out into the harvest lanes.
Dairy cows meanwhile wonder about the fuss. Their grass is knee-high and plentiful. Their routine is unbroken.
It makes you wonder about single enterprise farms . It takes me back to the thinking behind my mentor and teacher in 1972 – Guy Hole of Bradle Farm ,Isle of Purbeck,Dorset who always repeated like a monastic chant ‘you must always have something to sell’ .In his case it was hay; young stock; piglets; milk ;advice etc …..oh …and Mary’s scones at the farm gate on the weekend smothered with fresh whipped cream.
How could the ‘mixed farm’ have been written out of the text books ? How could a ‘specialist’ become the norm when laid out in front of British weather ?
In the dairy room we are getting very near completion and testing. We’ll run the whole system with water only until we are really sure of it . Then we shall approach the Environmental Health for a licence to process and sell fresh milk. The Prince’s Countryside Fund are happy with our progress and a senior director of Dairy Crest visited us a few Saturdays ago and was pleased a delighted with our achievements since he last came to the farm. I am hoping to meet Arthur Hozier’s great grand daughter very soon . She has agreed to see me . How interesting is that ? What will she think of the 2-berth milking bail modelled on her great grandfather’s fantastic ideas ? She seems pleased that someone is following the version of outdoor milking that he made famous in the 1930’s.
One of our directors did a keeping test on the raw milk from our cows. It is now 9 days old (in the fridge at 4 degrees) .She opens the carton every day to check . She applies the ‘sniff’ test. How long do you expect to keep ‘raw milk’ ?
Emergency up-date: The milk under test has kept fresh and usable for 11 days .11 days with no treatment or intervention since it left the cow.
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