So here we are, at the end of another month….
and STILL, the Dairy Complex isn’t up & running. During weekdays it’s a hive of activity with thumps, bangs & industrious echoes within & without; but weekends are ominously silent & bereft of the bleating of goats we’d so hoped would be echoing in there, by now.
This is for several reasons: firstly, the milking parlour isn’t fully operational, with the bulk milk tank still needing to be plumbed in & the shells & liners replaced in the clusters (the vacuum tubes which attach to the goats’ teats to withdraw the milk). After this the computer needs programming to work the whole system (oh joy, saith the techno-Luddite).
Then there’s water: the drinkers need to be plumbed in (another job on Tony’s ‘To Do’ list). And then there’s bedding: we have neither straw (& no forecast as to its’ arrival) nor mats at present, which is a huge worry as lack of a comfortable bed is the main hamstring for getting the Milkforce settled into their new accommodation. And then, oh then, there’s the second part of our gate system to be delivered & installed so I can prevent the goats from rampaging through the parlour – come the glorious day I can finally get them in there for milking. So just a few thorny little issues to contend with….
However, I have every confidence that our goats will be in their new home by the end of the first week of September; if only because Tony will be starting his new job some time around then & so won’t have the luxury of unlimited time on the Ffarm. That’s good news at least, allowing me to continue with establishing the business whilst he brings in some much-needed cash to swell the coffers back to a survivable size.
Meanwhile I’ve been pondering a recent visit by a pair of young men who keenly offered to exercise their dogs – & carry out some ‘pest control’, on our land. This, it has transpired, involves using Lurchers but no guns; & whilst rabbits & rats can still apparently be hunted this way, other species cannot. We have a healthy population of brown hares in our upper pastures & watching them box in the twilight of a full March moon must be one of the purest pleasures offered by the natural world. We certainly would not want to put them at risk – & hare coursing is an illegal activity which we wouldn’t condone for a moment.
The next issue, is livestock: can an excited, unleashed carnivore be controlled to comprehend sufficiently what it should or shouldn’t be chasing? If we or a neighbour lost a sheep in this way as a result of our negligence, we’d never forgive ourselves; & having already lost lambs to (we assume) the ravages of a neighbouring foxes’ lair this year (which I’ve already witnessed brutally taking several of our chickens) we know just what damage a ruthless canine-sized killer can do. And in the past I’ve had to deal with the unpleasant aftermath of idiots’ uncontrolled dogs attacking ponies (ridden, driven & grazing) – not a pleasant experience.
In accordance with British Law the bottom line is, that hunting with dogs is illegal. So for anyone who might still be tempted, sorry; but if you venture onto our land after dusk with your dogs, we’ll have no other option than to report you to the Police as trespassers. And when it comes to self defence we’re both crack shots with a rifle, having represented the RAF in military shooting competitions – but we don’t have night sights so the glint of a threatening eye might be enough to persuade us to loose a shot. Hares do box clever, after all….
Third up is a conundrum regarding cows’ milk, & the milk of ‘other species’. According to the latest UK Dairy Hygiene Regulations the Aerobic Cell Count for raw cows’ milk is ≤ 100 000 per ml; whilst that of ‘other species’ (i.e. goat, sheep & buffalo) is a higher ≤ 1 500 000 per ml. Any ideas why? We certainly haven’t been able to ascertain the answer, as yet.
So although it’s a Sunday we’ve still had lots to do, & lots to think about – including dashing through yet more heavy showers to rescue the goats from another dull, damp evening: this rollercoaster summer has certainly seen more ups than downs.
We consoled ourselves with a delicious Sunday supper: tender roast quail wrapped in our on home-cured bacon, followed by firm-fleshed, river-silvered fresh salmon which I poached on the Rayburn’s hob in the wonderful stainless steel fish kettle Tony gifted me (after a few heavy hints!) a couple of years ago; & served with tiny buttered potatoes, bursting from their skins alongside steamed whole green garden beans – full of flavour & vitamins, & the ideal accompaniment to perfect poached salmon. And what better dessert to brighten an otherwise gloomy evening, than a fulfilling bowlful of pure orange-infused dark chocolate gelato? – Lovespoon, of course….!