Well we had a little mini opening this weekend and sold our first milk. We thought we would try things out quietly so my Dad and John put up our subtle dairy signs on Sunday morning along with the lovely new blackboards which John made for the shop. We pasteurised some milk on Saturday evening and put a small amount in the vending machine for Sunday morning. A few people saw the signs and came in to see us which was just perfect to test it all out.
Nick hanging the sign
Hanging sign at Farm entrance
It is only the whole milk that is for sale until the other vending machine arrives but we salted a new batch of soft cheese to be ready for that yesterday and made basil soft cheese and mint soft cheese which are ready now too.
Will be running the next batch of milk through the pasteuriser on Monday evening ready for sale on Tuesday morning. We will be pasteurising in the evening every other day from now on, using the milk from that morning and afternoons milkings so it is as fresh as it can be when we process it. The tanker from the dairy that takes the rest of the milk comes every other day so our milk will be on sale nearly a day before the rest of it leaves us for processing.
We are really pleased with how the vending machine is working so far, and hopefully the cheese and cream vending machine will be here soon too.
Milk blackboards in the shop
Our new labelled bottles
Work on the farm is a bit grim in the cold and wet of February but its all been happening this week. We unloaded our supply of plastic milk bottles on Friday afternoon along with cream and cheese pots. Our milk bottle labels arrived on Monday, along with the new cheese maturing trays.
The whole and skim milk have passed all their tests and the shelf life testing is back on the cheese and cream so we can set the use by dates for them all. Just the testing on the semi-skimmed milk left to complete and those sample are going off on Wednesday. The cream we have been making is a lovely extra thick type and we are experimenting with a double cream too which will be tested this week too.
Had a bit of a disaster when one of our milk pumps died on us which has delayed us slightly but now have a spare arrived and a back up on order so that will be re-installed this week hopefully, so we can use it to fill the vending machine.
A vending machine for the cheese and cream is due to arrive next week, the final bit of equipment we need to get the self serve shop open.
Our new shop – almost ready to open
We went to see Charlie in Hertfordshire on Wednesday. He has a vending machine for raw Jersey milk which is very popular. He has told us how things were going for them and what we need to think about. His biggest problem is the glass door to the filling area being closed while the milk bottles are being filled. The machine is designed to steam clean after it is used so if you shut the door while it is filling you get a bottle full of hot water instead of delicious milk!
So we are days rather than weeks from opening. Making a new batch of soft cheese, Bure’s Essex Soft Cheese, on Wednesday which we hope will be the first batch that will available for sale the following week. By which time we hope it will feel a little more like spring won’t be too far away.