Props away!

Back on the farm and props (doors and calves) away!
First up, the mill house is supporting itself without the magical Acro props!
[Don't cry Stuart]
 AND...we've got a door!!!

A proper dairy door with a frame AND a window, on hinges and everything!   (I nearly cried when I saw the door).  And all of this progress is thanks to the incredible work of Richard Green - hiding in the top photo.  The barn looks AWESOME!

What's more, whilst I spent last week on self-imposed PhD lockdown (with a little cow shampooing thrown in for good measure), Dad's even installed new hi-tech lighting in the Pole Barn.

The gift of sight for night-time calvings?  Priceless (once you've climbed over, then up a gate and found the light switch in the dark).

My jungle gym skills are yet to be tested, however, I am proud to announce No. 100's first calf. Easy calving, seriously milky udder, slightly dim and she's my favourite...perfect for an Ayrshire cross!  She is the Chosen One.

Dairy dreams and the USSR...

Back to Essex after a dairy bonanza of a weekend. Kicking off with trimming the feet of Longmoor's finest bull, Max. Humbug proved an excellent lure to get the bull into the foot crush, better than the heifer we ran through first - unfortunately, Max has lost his mojo. I am 98% certain he is actually a bison and not Aberdeen Angus. I am a great naturalist, so the fact I have never actually seen a bison in the flesh should not put you off believing my description.

As we (more I) went dairy mad on the farm, there was unfortunately not as much cheese as expected at a festival of cheese. But still, an excellent selection including Dorset Blue Vinney and Woolsery Cheese.

We love Blue Vinney. Congratulations to my brother-in-law for standing his ground against some vicious elbows and jostling, and rifling through the stand as though he were at a jumble sale, emerging with a monster piece of Blue Vinney. We didn't know he had it in him, but such is the effect of this cheese.

By far and away the best new cheese(s), (unanimously agreed by our panel of four esteemed experts), the entire Woolsery range. Not only the best cheese, but the best goat's cheese, and two of our panel went into this claiming not to like "anything from a goat". So, a fromage revolution unleashed.

Guest expert for our tasting, the man in the "USSR Tour of the West Country" sweatshirt and army combats. Respect.

For now, I've dragged myself away from the beautiful dairy cattle and it's back to Essex and a search for sexed Ayrshire semen to restart the "dairy" part of "Lower Dairy Farm". Top contender right now, Haresfoot Elegant - the name alone screams sophistication, and we've got a lot of that at Lower Dairy Farm.

Our beef cattle are "liquorice allsorts" - predominantly Hereford-Angus with a little experimental or accidental influence. One semen rep had run out of Angus straws when he visited, so persuaded Dad that an Australian Murray Grey was an Angus equivalent. Not knowing anything about this breed, it is always reassuring when you Google it and come up with lots of references to what little psychos they are. Sorry, did I say little, I meant huge, hulking, one of the largest bulls of all cattle breeds, beasts. Fortunately, ours (Murray - because you cannot always come up with an imaginative name) was a massive, but lovely bear of a bullock who I genuinely miss but was also some seriously excellent steak.

The beef herd which today produces such delicious meat was something of an afterthought. In fact, I learnt recently that we only have beef cattle today because when they stopped milking in the 80s, my grandparents were worried they would not have enough to do. Whilst this has worked out beneficially for us, learning this whilst nursing bruises from a particularly extended handling session, my response was not particularly polite.

But, they are lovely cows. For more information and pictures, see the Livestock page of the blog. You can also click onto our website where we're building a gallery of our herd of photogenic stars.