Jane Barnes of Southfields Farm, Somerby entertained us with a fascinating talk on Tuesday 22nd August 2017 about the life of a dairy farmer’s wife in these tough 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 9,500, 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. More recently their son, Harry, has joined the family business lightening the workload on Mark and Jane to some extent. In addition they current host four bulls yet still use artificail insemination from time to time. Each cow, at its peak, produces 30 or 40 litres a day of milk. Their entire milk output is used for the production of Stilton cheese at Long Clawson dairy. They, and other farmers in a cooperative, are shareholders in the dairy business.
Jane described her involvement in the running of the farm that utilises a feeding regime predominantly using meadow grazing on their 200+ acre farm [with a futher 80 acres rented nearby]. Currently Jane regularly tours the paddocks measuring the grass growth. The family are in the midst of major development plans to use some land for house building to amasss capital for the construction of new farm buildings. Jane has built up a very busy diary of talks as well as managing visits to the farm for both adults and children.
Having had a visit to a dairy unit and a speaker on the subject all within three weeks there is no reason for members not now to be extremely knowledgeable about the origins of both their milk and cheese supplies.