Jane 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.
April’s montly meeting speaker will be Jane Barnes. Jane works with her husband, Mark, on a 220 acre farm near Somerby. The Barnes family is the third generation to run their farm. Milk from their herd of Ayrshire cows is sold to Clawson Dairies to make Stilton cheese.
Jane will be speaking about her life as a dairy farmer’s wife, which includes opening their farm to visitors to show them how milk is produced. Jane and Mark are bang up to date with using modern technology. They came up with the whacky idea (harmless) of spraying their cows with a white QR code so visitors could click on their smartphones and read an up to date blog of the cow’s life and contribution to the farm. I hope I haven’t given it all away … !
To find out more, come along on Wednesday 24 April at 7.30 pm at the Congregational Church Hall, Bowden Lane, Market Harborough. It’ll be fun, too, sampling the Stilton cheese!