Pick-ups, poles and puddings

The cows are tucked up in the barn and I left the farm with the river rising, worrying electricity poles and a broken down pick-up. The super-breed that is the "abbreviated collie" and I have headed to Dorset for dairy farm fun, Humbug to cheat on BFF Reggie with cousin Jack, and to "feast" upon a 2-year old Christmas pudding found at the back of Mrs "Heston would be proud" Rogers' larder.  Mmmm antique.  Can you say superfood?






I am thinking perhaps that said pickled delight could be used to shore up the electricity cable crossing our flood meadow of which a junction of high voltage cable has lost a stay but in no way carries the electricity to Nayland, in particular the pumping station.  So no need for concern.  Little fills you with greater dread than a mechanic kicking poles at the base to see if they wobble.

A flood would really help, particularly as they cannot get the machinery down to properly fix the problem until the land dries out.  Last year, we had the Incident of the Downed Cable Sparking in the Night.  We would really not like to repeat that so have removed the bullocks to higher ground to avoid both flooding and to remove them from the ultimate scratching post that is a telegraph stay.  Their beautiful bottoms seen here trotting obediently up Water Lane to attack the stay in the Home Field instead.

But even though the pick-up and cattle trailer broke down (luckily on the way back from unloading cattle) and Dad embarked on a lengthy wait for the recovery services, there was good news this week as the cows are now safely installed in the barn and feasting on hay in the yard outside.

They face a winter of pampering at the 5* Hotel de LDF.  Give them a wave if you pass on Water Lane.  If you walk past at dusk, you can watch the calves "barrel race" round the feeders whilst the mothers look on in despair!

Back in Dairyville, I'm off to continue my culinary tour, play "Lose a Welly Roulette" with the Dorset mud...

..and drink the bulk tank dry of fresh milk - I'm hoping, the ultimate antidote to ancient puddings.

Our twin farm

I start the blog then leave the farm! Typical. But it's only temporary, for this weekend Humbug and I have headed to Dorset for the Sturminster Newton Cheese Festival, and of course to see my sister and brother-in-law. It's a big step for me. I haven't made it out of a one mile radius for several weeks, so world here I come! The Rogers moved here about 5 months ago. Now, moving is a nightmare at the best of times, but we're talking about moving on a whole new scale (think Monster Moves on Channel Five). They moved their dairy farm, cows and all, from Oxfordshire to Dorset. Logistically speaking, this is an incredibly impressive and highly stressful undertaking. With a heck of a lot of hard work from everyone involved, everything made it in one piece, and I think the last load (of what I'm told isn't actually scrap), arrived today.

It's been a long process, but the amount they have achieved in the past few months is phenomenal. A testament to the strength of the community in Oxford was the number of people that gave time, many of them farmers, to help pack up and unpack, document the move and provide tea at just the right time. For many this was on the back of, or even before a day at work or milking and chores on their own farms.

My role as "general help and provider of emergency chocolate" was rewarded eternally by the sight of the cattle trailers at Stonehenge with cows sticking their heads out of the two-tier lorries to have a look. You'll have to believe me on this one, it was a classic Kodak moment missed. I also got to fulfill my childhood dream of milking cows, which was just as amazing, and mucky as I had imagined! Our herd at Lower Dairy Farm is directly descended from the pedigree Ayrshire herd my grandparents introduced in 1951. And the more time I spend here, the more I think a dairy cow, at least one, would be a good idea...but watch this space...

The family produce milk for Waitrose and delicious milk it is too. Never mind the family connection, the raw milk alone is reason enough to visit. That and the back catalogue of Holstein International magazines and my bedtime reading tonight (because I've misplaced the HI), British Dairying. The latest news on livestock paint crayons? Yes please! Don't worry, I'll keep that one to myself.