Twenty five years ago today, I gave birth to a baby heifer, who was subsequently named after Marks’ favourite cow at the time – Charlotte! Thinking back over the past quarter century at what we’ve achieved as a family and as farmers, who’d have thought we’d be building (as we’ll never finish) a new dairy unit.
At the end of March, we held an Open Day to mark the new beginnings at Alma Bank Farm and welcomed our many builder friends, farming neighbours, family from near and far, and also our Ayrshire Cattle Society friends who all popped in for a bite to eat and drink as well as a tour around the new sheds. Once that day passed and our building contractors moved on to other projects, it all became quiet, just the sound of cows, tractors and milking machines. What bliss!
The Cow Classroom was also completed making a great party venue! Farmer Barnes Dairy is well and truly up and running. We’ve hosted a dozen Farm Tours this summer with great success and visitors have found it fascinating! Their feedback comments make it clear why it is SO important that we, as dairy farmers, need to communicate what we do “day in day out” to the rest of the world! Our life is so different to the vast majority of the public and we need to embrace them as they, after all, are our customers.
The Tractor & Trailer rides are going down a storm. I’m very lucky that I have had the support of my family. Not only did my clever, handy and retired dairy farmer Dad refurbish it, my helpful Mum painted it John Deere green and yellow to match the tractor. But more importantly – the visitors love it! No more accidental standing in cow muck in summer sandals!
Just as we were about to host our first group of visitors, Mark had a knee operation and I had an accident with my finger which was bad timing. We couldn’t have continued without the help again from my parents. Dad has the important job of driving the tractor whilst Mark sits in the trailer commentating for the visitors making them howl with laughter (probably at my expense). My mother bakes the cakes and make the numerous pots of tea for them whilst Harry carries on with milking the cows (the star attraction) whilst I do the guided tour around. It’s been a truly family affair which we all love and so do our visitors.
I’m looking forward to hosting some School groups during the Autumn/Winter terms as many pupils have never set foot on a farm or seen a cow close up! That’s scary if we want these kids to by our dairy products in the future.
Also we have other plans for the Cow Classroom such as a ‘Stilton for Christmas’ cookery demos, Family Days over October half term for Grandparents to bring their families along and selling a good range of Stilton Cheese up to Christmas by holding some taster days.
We can see endless possibilities as time progresses.
Our old farmyard has now been demolished and we are currently in talks with a developer who plans to build 10 houses on the site. Once that deal is completed we can start to think about building the new Farm House at Alma Bank, but realistically I think it won’t be until 2020.
Mark and I have just returned from a lovely weeks’ holiday in North Devon at Lynton & Lynmouth. The weather was fantastic and we find Exmoor to be a most relaxing place with plenty of space and wonderful scenery. Of course, we had to call in to see Robert & Anita Cornish’s farm on the outskirts of Exmoor National Park. What a beautiful place to live and farm. When the weather’s good, there’s no better place to be but in Britain.
Now we’re looking forward to our next trip – Australia in Jan 2020 for the World Ayrshire Conference!
Life is for living and boy, are we living it.
I found this whilst in Devon!
The Farmer’s Prayer
Our farmers, whose art’s in fields
Furrowed is they realm
Thy harvest come
Thy work is done
In earth as it is in cowsheds
Give us this day our fruit & veg
And forgive their slow tractors
As they forgive those who toot behind them
Lead us not into set-aside
But deliver us from weevils
For thine is the subsidy
For silos and balers
From heifer to leather