Maple Field Milk: Oh, That 6 Acres

Reader Contribution by Nick Snelgar
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Heavy summer rain woke me this morning. The corrugated roof of the house muffles the downpour into a low sigh. Through the open window I see a barn owl running for cover.  The cows push their heads into the hedge where they have made hollows with their browsing. By the time its milking the storm will have passed and the herd will be ready for their routine and ‘bail’ radio will crackle into life with a beautiful song.

I can’t get over the next door field of 6 acres. I walk through the long grass. The hedges are at least as thick and as high as ours. This, too, is an enclosure act field divided into two with a central ‘tree hedge.’ It is a beautiful example of how the fields were laid out by the government surveyors in 1843. They were absolutely designed for livestock farming with the huge hedges providing masses of shade and shelter. I have collected a grass flowering head from each species to put in a vase. They are so lovely to look at up close. They are certainly the original grasses from the open downland before it was ‘enclosed.’ What a thought. Next week we shall make hay of history. I have contractor Gerald lined up to mow the grass; to ted it; to windrow it and pound it into a massive half ton square bale wrapped in black polythene to make perfect sweet smelling ‘haylage.’ This is small-scale farming using big scale equipment. All his machines will fit through a 12’ gateway. They can’t be over 3 metres wide to go on the highway (that’s just under 10 feet in old money).

Phil Thompson, our Environmental Health Officer, has just popped in to see how we are getting on and to hand deliver our HACCP document for minor alterations. I can’t fault his interest and encouragement. All the people we are working with at Government level really want this to work. 

Off to a Food Safety Course at Lackham College, North Wiltshire, on Thursday.  

Photo by Fotolia/Chulja