Phew! … but hopefully we have now seen the last gasps of winter as the snow around the farm has finally melted. And what a long winter it has been with this season kicking off its icy blasts as far back as November and sending us Siberian snowfalls even after the official start of spring in March.
News from the Farm
Despite the snowdrifts we managed to get the milk out to our customers although a tractor had to pull us out of a drift at one point. Thankfully all of the cows and oxen were housed in winter barns as the weather did its worst and the milking cows and the non-milkers were able to moo at each other from opposite sides of the yard.
We are now looking forward to the time when they can all go back to the fields – that is both us and the cows. In winter despite a diet of organic lucerne, carrots and hay the cows give less milk and they are desperate to get back on luscious, fresh grass when their milk will increase.
The oxen and retired cows even insisted on visiting the fields after the snow in the hope of finding a few blades of grass. Disappointed though they only stayed out half-an-hour and soon returned to the comfort of the straw-filled barn and the bales of hay.
As soon as we identify the appropriate time we will be letting them out. This will probably be early May and we will attempt to hold our first open day of the year around then. It is always a complete delight to see the cows going back to the fields.
Other Ahimsa News
Full Permission Secured
We have been busy securing full permission from the local authority to sell pasteurised whole milk (we were operating with provisional permission only before). That was a bit of a saga as everything was delayed last autumn after Network Rail broke a water pipe leading to the farm and everything had to be tested and retested.
We got there in the end, but have had to put skimmed and semi-skimmed milk on hold until we manage to buy some new equipment in order to process it.
With permission in place, now we will concentrate on making cheese and yoghurt. All being well, these should become available later this year. We feel production of secondary (value-added) products is a key element in our development of the overall model that can be used to replicate sustainable Ahimsa dairies elsewhere in the future, so we remain commited to moving this forward. At the same time we must apologise to all of you who have been waiting for a long time … we are but a small team, and often other things take our time … but finger crossed now.
London Farmers’ Markets
We have been busy with our London Farmers’ Markets, and now maintain a presence at Queens Park every week and Islington every other week. We get regulars who love our milk so much that they come early because they know we sell out long before the end of the market. The markets are great for us because they enable us to make sure we never waste those varying smaller amounts of weekly surplus milk without commitment to supply of specific quantity … as we need to do with our regular weekly doorstep and drop-point customers.
Ahimsa Bull coming soon!
The other big news is that we have now put a deposit down on our very own bull. He comes from the same Scottish farm as our Swiss Brown cows and is said to have a nice temperament. Obviously even the most mild-mannered of bulls can be dangerous as they are both incredibly strong and dare we say bull-headed, so we have to ensure we don’t take any risks and put safety first. We are excited about this development not only because of our mission commitment to the avoidance of artificial insemination (AI) but because it means the father of future generations will also be cared for and protected to the same standard of the rest of the herd.
We also had a generous donation from a well-wisher and that will go towards buying the bull and also a crush. That is like a big metal cage that the cows can be contained in when the vet or hoof-trimmer come to visit. We had to get one big enough to fit long-horned oxen in and so it was quite expensive.
So that is about all of the news for now. We are currently working out dates for our open days this year when we hope to see many of you again or meet some of you for the first time. So please watch this space.
All the best
Sanjay, Nicola, David and The Ahimsa Team