Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
Well here it is. Our milk was delivered by me with great emotional fright and terrifying ‘security’ mauling, to Porton Down, Wiltshire – our local Health Protection Agency (now called Public Health England ) and once in the safe and careful hands of the microbiologists (Sam in my case) I filled out the sheaf of papers with her expert help and white coated diligence. She let me out of the building with a magical sweep of the biological card. The next day she rang me to give me the first results. I thought that was very keen and careful with us, a novice and all.
The key test to determine whether or not our pasteurizer is working correctly is something called the ‘phosphataze’ test whereby the microbiologists will see how much of this milk enzyme has been lost in the process. The range is zero to 350. They like you to fall below 100. If the results are over 100 they look for reasons. You are allowed to ‘process’ fresh milk up to 349 on the scale although no one is happy. A score of less than 100 is good and safe. Our results at Maple Field Milk came in at - 26! We are so in there. We are so thrilled. And a week later, Sam rings again to say - Lysteria test – ‘None found’. Well, I mean to say. Good week or what?
The dairy cow is constantly on self-medication browse particularly with Traveller's Joy and sweet May now in full flower and fragrant. The heifer calf – Myrtle has been taught already the skills of ‘browse’ and our massive enclosure Act hedges provide an alchemist’s box of medicine and a natural supply of vitamin supplements.
Temperatures at night are still very low. Some mornings it’s only 4 C. We seem to be trapped in a Northerly wind stream which makes me reach for the sleeveless Wally every morning , now, still , in June. Shorts are on hold.
I am talking to Georgina Windsor on BBC Radio Solent tomorrow at 13.20 hours which I look forward to, always, as a great monthly talk-in. We have been in close touch now for over 5 years what with Futurefarms and now, Maple Field and they are absolutely interested and on side and keen to promote whatever ideas that come from this.
Welsh farmsteads always had a grassy patch of ‘self heal’ herbs and poorly cows would be grazed there for a while. We are feeding our cows Comfrey (Bocking 14) which they absolutely go for over and above fresh grass, as a supplement containing protein and miconutrients, which by choice, they lap up. What is this telling us?
We now have Bonnie Raitt on Bail Radio. In particular ‘Under the Falling Sky’ and don’t forget, she is the guitarist as well.
I was listening to an interview with Jim Paice (ex Minister of State for Agriculture) where he said the “no one in government actually ‘gets’ it with farming, the powers that be don’t understand the business. Is it any wonder? Food production is misunderstood by the people who depend upon it, and by the people who strive to do it. Let’s try and change this. I could work with Mr. Paice. How about it?
We have secured access to 6 acres of fresh pasture this week – 6 acres for hay. That brings the total up to 10 acres which is sufficient to keep 10 dairy cows. What a week. Bring on the Bail – bring on the profit.
Photo from Fotolia.