Opening up

Well it has been a fascinating first full week of opening our shop. It was wonderful to be able to get feedback from everyone who has visited over the last two weekends when we have had cheese samples available for everyone to try.  A huge thank you to all the customers who have been in, it has been lovely talking to you all.

It been a busy week too, we had some extra advice from our cheese microbiologist a fortnight ago so we have been trying out those ideas on the cheese making too.  Leaving the soft cheese to mature a little longer before salting to increase the intensity and adjusting the pepperiness of the Chalvedon hard cheese.

Nick, Billy and Dennis and machine

Do you think it will go in?

But the big project for the week was vending machine number two.  It arrived on Monday a week later than we had hoped.  Whilst it did fit in the space we had made for it, it blocked the power sockets so we have had to have those moved before we could get it in the shop, creating yet another job for my Dad, Nick, to do.

After it bending the pallet it had been sitting on we called for reinforcements to help us move it.  Billy and Dennis Keeling came to the rescue and gave us a hand.  We fork lifted it as close to the shop as we could and carried it through from there.  Which we couldn’t have managed without their help.

Finally in place

A quick coffee

Finally in situ we came to the task of interpreting two massive books of instructions to fathom out its operation.  John persevered with the daunting task and is now master of the vending machines, except its little quirk of hating 10p’s and refusing to give them in change. 

So it has been in use over the weekend for cheese, cream, skimmed and semi-skimmed milk making it much easier to set up the shop and samples this time giving us time for a quick break first thing before we got started. 

On the farm it has been a very stressful fortnight.  My Dad and Sister were summoned to a meeting with Muller, who currently take the bulk of our milk.  The meeting was to give us and about 18 other farmers notice on our contracts as they are cutting all milk collections from East Anglia.  We were half expecting the news as they announced the closure of Chadwell Heath Dairy a few months ago and that is where our milk they collect goes.  The rest of the Chadwell milk will be going to the west country for processing.  Fortunately Arla are looking for a small number of milk suppliers at the moment and have given a once only offer to farms affected, a bit of a turnaround as they gave notice to one of our neighbours only a year ago.  A couple of the other farms have told us enough is enough and they are going to give up so we could be down to 5 dairy farms in Essex before long. 

So a worrying time, without a new contract we would have to have given up too, our new milk shop helps the situation but not enough yet to have survived without a main dairy collecting.  But we have gone with the Arla offer so that should give us some stability for now. We also think with the closure of Chadwell heath that we will be not just the only on farm cheese dairy in Essex but the only milk processing dairy in Essex too. 

Now that the rain has gone

A few more bits to do next week, we will be updating the website with information about all the products and hopefully getting our banners up on the granary and roadside if it is not too windy now storm Doris and Eric have both passed us by.

Thank you for all the positive Facebook reviews and comment and we hope to see some of you again soon and some new customers too.

‘Mooberry’ rides (for the first time)

We now have our new refrigerated van and have called her (we think that she is a girl) ‘Mooberry’ after one of the calves named in our recent “name the calf” competition.

van_front1

mooberry

 

 

We think that Mooberry looks great in her new signage with the cow logo.  Mooberry will be delivering milk, cream and cheese to local shops in the new year, so watch out for her.

We are hoping to have everything in place to be able to sell milk from the farm in the next month.  More on that very soon…

Milk and Maize

As September comes to a close everything is finally starting to come together.  The milk tanks are now installed in the new dairy room and fully working, and the milk vessel and pumping system is all up and running to get milk across from the main tank.  Just waiting on the pasteuriser, cream separator and bottle filler to slot into the gaps.  So avoiding any disasters the micro dairy should be up and running at the end of October.  And milk and cream on sale once we have food safety sign off in November. 

Milk transfer tank

Milk transfer tank

We can start making Cheese from the pasteurised milk from then and fingers crossed should have some batches matured for Christmas.  We have been trialling some changes to the cheese makes and have a new style on the way which we are very pleased with so far.

This month has included the national Red Tractor week promotion, Trust the Tractor.  We had our farm assurance audit in the summer and passed which means the milk we sell can go into red tractor labelled products.  The Red Tractor farm assurance covers animal welfare, food hygiene, traceability and environmental management so is a really good way of checking that the cows are well looked after as well as showing the products are made, stored and treated appropriately.  Once the dairy is up and running we will start looking at whether to get certification for our own products as well which means getting additional specialist audits for the dairy and cheese room itself as well as the existing one for the milk.

It has been busy in the fields too with the maize silage finished this week.  This, with the grass silage will make up the bulk of the cows winter feed and they are always keen to start eating it as soon as it is ready.

Maize sileage clamp

Maize silage clamp

 

Summer calves and Winter straw

While most normal people have been enjoying the lovely warm days of summer, thoughts on the farm have turned to winter.  During spring, summer and autumn our girls are out on the pasture but in winter they live in a large straw bedded barn, rather than the cubicles many farms have.  This means getting ready for winter is a mammoth task and providing fresh straw bedding every day of winter means we have to buy in more than 500 tonnes of straw from other arable farms and cart it back to the farm.

At the same time we have to deal with the 500 plus tonnes of dung that came out of the barns from last winter and has been rotting down over the summer.  This has to be spread onto the fields to give the crops and grass food for next year and has be done before our clay ground gets water logged in the late autumn.

Straw bales

Straw bales

Late summer is a very busy and slightly smelly time on the farm and on top of all the field work it is the time when we get most calves born too.

Over the summer our Facebook friends have been suggesting names for this years heifer calves.  Each year we breed 20 to 30 Friesian Holstein heifer calves.  We would expect nearly all of these babies to make it into the milking herd in two to three years time when they have calves of their own.  We had nearly 350 entries into the calf naming competition and the three winning names who received a cuddly cow were: Heffy Flump, which was chosen as a winner by Chelsea who works on the farm and is now the name of the first calf she bred.

Cuddly cow

Cuddly cow

Lily Pops, which was picked out by my husband John and belongs to a calf with very long eye brows! And Mooberry was chosen by me and is one of our darker calves who has colouring like the pet cow I had when I was little.

Heffy-Flump

Heffy-Flump

Lily-Pops

Lily-Pops

Mooberry

Mooberry

These three girls are living alongside a new group of friends including Daphne and Willow.  They have their own pens like each of the other calves.  The girls will stay in here for the first six to eight weeks, this makes sure they each get their own adlib food and water and then milk twice a day and don’t get pushed around by older bigger calves when it comes to feeding time.

When they are eight weeks old these three will be weaned off milk and then move into the group pen where Tulip, Meadow, Rio, Arya and Hermione currently live.

Meadow, Arya and Hermione

Meadow, Arya and Hermione

At three months they will all move to Chalvedon to join the older calves like Gertrude, Lavender, Buttercup and Natee in the straw barn where they will live until the following spring when they will be old enough to go out to graze on the fresh grass.  We have named all the calves born since January with names suggested on Facebook:

Buttercup, Ermintrude, Jasmine, Gertude, Natee, Lavender and Petal

Buttercup, Ermintrude, Jasmine, Gertude, Nattee, Lavender and Petal

Arya, Buttercup, Clover, Daisy, Daphne, Ermintrude, Flossy, Gertrude, Hermione, Jasmine, Kimmy, Lavender, Meadow, Natee, Oreo, Petal, Queenie, Rio, Summer, Tulip, Veronica, Willow.

These join three calves we had named earlier, Glacier (whose mum and sisters are very white and we always name after types of mint) and Rhubarb and Custard who are twins born in July. 

With another 10 heifer calves expected in September and October we will be using a further 10 names as they are born – Arwen, Bella, Connie, Elsie, Freya, Juniper, Marigold, Olivia, Tinkerbell and finally, yes Marion, we will be calling one Pamela just for you.  We are saving Snowdrop or Snowflake for when we get a very white calf again.

Our heifers born last year coming up from the fields

Our heifers born last year coming up from the fields

 

 

 

 

Welcome to our new Bradfields Farm website

Welcome to our new Bradfields Farm website.

The Dairy at Bradfields Farm is a new enterprise currently under development.

Building

We aim to manufacture a small range of good quality local dairy products direct from the farm, to Essex and the surrounding area through farmers markets and new farm shop.

We are currently researching what products people would be interested in buying locally and recruiting tasters to provide feedback when we start production next year.