There’s been some rain and the grass is growing but probably not at the rate we would like to see. It still seems quite dry out there for this time of the year, and the best pasture for the dairy herd is currently on the other side of Somerton Road from the milking parlour. Not ideal and apologies if you’ve been caught up in our twice-daily traffic stoppages to get the cows back and forth. If all goes well, we’ll have some exciting news next week when five new Ayrshire cows join the herd from an organic farm in Derbyshire. Once they have clearance to travel, we’ll be glad of their help to deal with our milk shortages that have occurred due to detrimental weather conditions this year and some fertility issues we’ve encountered with some of the current and past cows.
Over the last decade or so we’ve gone from being a completely Ayrshire milking herd to a mixed Ayrshire and Friesian herd, with the Friesians now outnumbering the Ayrshires. At times when we’ve been really short on milk in the past, either after losing cows to TB testing or struggling to meet milk demands due to other production issues arising from managing such a small number of cows, we’ve decided to supplement the herd with Friesians, as it hadn’t been possible to find other organic dairies with Ayrshire cows for sale. But now we’re optimistic that we have the start of a new relationship with a larger organic dairy farm, and they may be willing to sell to us again should there be another crisis in the future. Fingers crossed we don’t have to go down the Friesian route again. The Friesian are generally very good at producing lots of milk, but we prefer the Ayrshire’s as they’re a more resilient breed and the milk they produce is creamier. Hopefully you may notice a change in the taste of the milk in the coming weeks.
As we don’t have a dairy bull on the farm (it’s not really viable for just 15 cows) we’ve relied on artificial insemination to get the cows in calf. For many years it wasn’t possible to find an AI company in the region with an Ayrshire bull which meant we couldn’t get our cows to produce Ayrshire offspring. But that’s all changed too and we’re pleased to say we have Ayrshire replacement heifers growing up on the farm. Precious, Leah and Jocie all have daughters at different ages, two of which will likely start producing milk next year. Hopefully there are many more Ayrshire daughters for generations to come.
In our quest to promote and support local food heroes we have been talking to Sue from Forge House Bakery in Lower Heyford who uses local flour to produce delicious high-quality bread. If there are enough takers, we would like to offer you the chance to receive a delivery of her signature Heyford Sourdough loaf alongside your milk. The bread would only be available for Wednesday and Friday deliveries and for Friday pick-up. We are sorry that it won’t be available for Tuesday delivery and pick-up but Deddington customers may know that the bread is also available to collect at the Buzzy Beans coffee van and Deddington Farmers Market. If you would be interested in a weekly loaf, please let us know and we’ll be in touch with a first delivery date. Take a look at the Forge House Bakery website. The Heyford sourdough retails at £4 a loaf.
For those of you who kindly showed an interest in our lamb, we will be in touch again shortly.
And finally, we will no longer be asking you to return lids alongside your bottles. Please recycle them at home from now on. And don’t forget to return lovely clean bottles!