The Hook and Sons farm still feels very much in limbo with highs and lows. The recent big downer was our herd’s TB test in March. We needed to go clear in order to be able to sell raw milk again. One hundred and eighty animals were tested, and they were all clear……except for one that was ‘in-conclusive’ (she was neither clear, nor a TB reactor).
Although this one animal is a dry cow and not being milked, we cannot sell raw milk until she alone is tested again 60 days after the March test, which takes us to the 23rd May. Hugely frustrating to say the least! The support we have received from customers and the general public has been amazing. Donations to our crowdfunding campaign (www.gofundme.com/help-hook-and-son-in-tb-trouble) and all the messages of support we have received have kept us going.
Our MP, Nus Ghani, is also doing her best to help us. She managed to organise a meeting with the Minister of State for Agriculture and senior government vets to discuss our case and the current UK TB controls. It looks as though whilst ours is an unusual situation, there is nothing that can be done.
It does seem ridiculous to us that instead of helping develop and use modern science that detects the presence of TB, the government wishes to persist in using a 70-year old skin test that detects an immune response to TB. I doubt APHA vets drive 70-year old cars and use 70-year old computers!
Dad and I were shocked and angry when the senior government vet even told us we are ’privileged’ to be able to sell raw milk! There may be some developments, we’ll have to wait and see!
The high point since the last issue, was Turn Out Day, the day our milking herd go back out onto a green grassy field after having been kept indoors for the winter. These days cows are kept indoors all year round on some farms, and never experience the freedom of grazing in a field. You can see how much it means to our cows, that first day back outside is fantastic, they run, butt each other, even the older ones!
This year’s Turn Out Day on Easter Bank Holiday Monday was fantastic, with at least six hundred people coming along to see our dancing cows. They didn’t disappoint! Especially Big Billy, our one tonne British Blue cross steer. You can see a little bit of our Turn Out Day including Big Billy at: https://twitter.com/hookandson?lang=en
It was a great day, with our dairy beef burgers, milkshakes, and tractor and trailer rides down onto the wonderful Pevensey Levels. Brilliant weather too. The field was bathed in sunshine. As a dairy farmer, there is nothing more beautiful than black and white cows grazing lush, dark green grass, and a blue sunny sky. There were farmers market stalls, tea and cakes, and straw bales and fallen tree trunks which children loved playing on. Smiles all round!
The other high is a new, well, refurbished, bespoke milk bottle washer. These used to be made back in the heyday of doorstep delivery when dairy farms bottled their own milk, back in the 1930s to the 1960s before the big corporate dairies took over. These old milk bottle washers are great, built to last, making one of our most labour intensive jobs one of the most enjoyable jobs, washing a milk crate and twenty milk bottles in under two minutes. This will hugely help us to take on new customers wishing to go on our milk round and have their local, organic, grass fed pasteurised or raw milk delivered in reusable, environment friendly glass bottles. To go on our milk round, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
We’re just preparing for our first ever Mad Marsh on Sunday 28th April. Just under 200 runners have bought tickets to take part. The 10k course has 28 ditch jumps from two and a half feet to five feet deep, fallen trees, bog, straw bale walls and open field running with wonderful long views across the Pevensey Levels.
P.S. Come and see us at the Heathfield Show on the 25th May. A great day out. Come along and see what’s happening in The Weald’s countryside!