Ayrshire Cows and Stilton Cheese

stilton-w500-h500Jane Barnes of Southfields Farm, Somerby entertained us with a fascinating talk on Wednesday about the life of a dairy farmer’s wife in these touch economic times – not for the faint hearted!

Jane is married to Mark Barnes, a ‘rare beed’, she says.  Why?  Because there used to be 65,000 dairy farmers in the UK and now there are only 10,000, of which he is one.  With a herd of Ayrshire cows (they have changed in recent years from Fresian), Jane took us through the trials and tribulations of modern day farming, from buying new cows  to the 365 days a year commitment to managing the herd.  Mulberry, the bull, figured in there, too.  Each cow, at its peak, produces 30 or 40 litres a day of milk.  This is used solely for the production of Stilton cheese, which we were all delighted to sample.

Jane described her enterprising business skills, too.  She supported the farm with her silk flower business but this was hit by the foot and mouth outbreak.  Her cows were not affected but countryside visitors to the farm were restricted.   Jane has subsequently built up a very busy diary of talks, as well as visits to the farm for both adults and children.  For the latter, she works closely with a nearby arable farmers’ wife, so the children get the chance to visit both in a morning and begin to understand how the output of each helps the other.