There have been some much needed upgrades on the processing side of the business this month. We’ve got a brand new pasteuriser and a new, custom-built bottle wash machine. The old pasteuriser and bottle washer had been with us since the business’s beginning and they were second-hand purchases at the time - we think the bottle washer may have been over 50 years old! They’ve served us well over the years and always produced good results but lately they were breaking down and requiring a lot of repairs.
The new pasteuriser’s slower than our old one, so it means processing days are taking a bit longer at the moment. But the bottle washer has made life easier for us and we’re able to wash more bottles at once. Please don’t forget to do your part too though, if the bottles come back to us in a dirty state with dried milk residue inside, there’s not a bottle-washer in the world that’ll get them clean. We have to clean the dirty ones by hand. Also, the old bottle wash machine really struggled when it became clogged up with the paper labels. We’d really like for this not to happen to the new one so we’d really appreciate it if everyone could please remember to remove the labels from their bottles when they’re being cleaned at home as well, thank you.
We’ve had an unexpected surprise this month on the farm. Meet Iona, she’s an Ayrshire X Swedish Red replacement heifer but she’s a little on the young side. A few weeks ago we noticed her udder “bagging up” (expanding) - a sure sign that a cow is about to calf. But she hadn’t been served by artificial insemination and we hadn’t planned on getting her in calf at such a young age. A few days later her calf appeared, and we could tell from its appearance what had happened. About 9 months ago one of our male Angus calves had impregnated this very young heifer! Err… so for several years now (and unbeknown to the new owners) we’ve decided not to castrate the male calves on the farm, as we were told as long as certain ‘unmentionables’ got no bigger than the size of grapefruits the calf wouldn’t reach sexual maturity. Well it turns out this was a load of old rubbish! But lesson learned… all the male calves have had a visit from the vet (as per the policy on North Aston Farms beef herd).
Most importantly, despite Iona’s young age there were no complications with her calving and both mother and son are doing very well (though both on the small side). The main concern is that she hasn’t had enough time to grow and develop before her first calf, so we’ll be lucky if she produces two thirds the amount of milk of what some of the other cows in the herd are doing… It seems our bad luck with Ayrshire replacements continues! Candice has also calved this month, she’s an old girl and her calving date was expected, so no alarms there. It does mean that we’re going to have a lot of milk with these two new members in the milking parlour, and we can restart ice cream production again. Please keep an eye on the stock list below to see which flavours we’ve made.