Maple Field Milk: Storm Brewing

Reader Contribution by Nick Snelgar
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The White family, third generation dairy farmers at Whitey Top Farm, Pentridge listen to the forecast. Not around the cat’s whisker of their forefathers but with bleeping ‘App’s’ and direct links via the internet to the Shipping Forecast – they are prepared and up-to-date. They know what’s coming. You can practically see the Western Approaches from their hillside farm. Barn doors are bolted. Big bales of straw are lugged to protect exposed walls. Hatches are battened down not with any sense of panic but of deep resilience and forlorn expectation. These are the conditions under which our food is raised and we should be particularly pleased that the people who do it are ready for action and are ready to cope with anything that is thrown at them.

The storm rushed through at midnight. It took off two roof vents and two alloy roofing sheets. It up-rooted several trees and that was it. Oh – the phone line was squashed by a tree and took three days to repair. Other than that routines were resumed; the cows continued their ruminant magic tricks.

On Thursday we experienced an Environmental Health full-on inspection for them to see our procedures and to watch the whole pasteurising process from beginning to end.  We passed completely. We were given full approval under EU Regulation 853/2004 .We moved ,in one day, from being on probation to being fully approved, full tilt dairy processors able to sell our products anywhere in the European Union. That’s a big help since we try to operate within a 10 mile radius of Martin! But it’s good to be able to ‘export’ outside Martin Village.

Now we are looking for Ayreshire cows. Our local herd at Fovant (Wiltshire) has still got a TB reactor within it and no movements are allowed. Another herd I contacted in Gloucestershire have got TB restrictions.  I spoke to Nicki of Pilgrim Vets in Fordingbridge, whilst I sold her a litre of farm-fresh milk (to substitute for her ‘Watery Juice’ which I caught sight of in her fridge – Watery Juice – I ask you?) anyway, I asked her about finding TB- free Ayreshires. She said that anywhere east of Salisbury was a good bet. Anyone east of Salisbury please get in touch. We are really keen.

The wild flock of Sasso meat birds are loving the tree hedges that surround Maple Field on all sides. It’s like being at the forest edge. Hawk-free and sheltered. Home to many an invertebrate. Not bad if you are a Sasso. Several have developed some odd ‘learnt behaviour.’ I say ‘learnt’ because it started with one and now there are several who jump up onto the rim of the cattle trough and dip their beaks into the water. Most precarious if Myrtle is anywhere near. She is solidly behind ‘four legs good; two legs bad.’ Let’s put it this way – if a Sasso white blob got into difficulty in the deep end, Myrtle would not help it.

We are going to start supplying the Borough Café, Downton (Wiltshire) next week which excites us no end as they are a talkative bunch at the heart of a big community.

Look out for an Ayreshire dairy cow for us and ‘keep it fresh and local.’

Photo by Fotolia/Andrew Roland