Today was my last day of doing work experience at Street Farm Dairy in High Halden, Kent. To begin the day, I fed the calves just as I did previously. A baby born on Monday had just been moved into the calf shed. It was crying and crying because it wanted its mother and it wanted milk. I gave them milk, and helped this new little calf find the teat on the calf feeder. He was Sussex cross and so was a beautiful reddy brown colour. Even after he had been fed he cried, so I spent a long time talking softly to him and stroking him and he soon settled down. It was a shame that he was male because it means that next week he will be sent to a beef farm, but that is life in the world of farming. I then gave the older calves hay and straw because they had already been given their pellets.
After this, I joined Steve the farm worker in the milking parlour. The milking had just finished and as the final cows filed out, into the adjoining barn, we began to clean the milking parlour. The amount of muck produced by the cows, even in the short space of time in which they are in the parlour, is extortionate. Therefore, it was my job to scrape the floors. I did this, scraping it all into the yard where it was then scraped again with a huge scraper attached to a tractor. I then scrubbed the walls and Steven rinsed everything with water. Whilst this was happening, hot water was being pumped through the teat cups in order to sterilise them. Just as I saw in the veterinary surgery, when going through any procedures, cleanliness is essential. And in this case, bacteria on the teat cups would affect not only the cows but also it could get into the human food chain via the milk and therefore, if cleanliness isn’t maintained vigorously, serious impacts can spiral out of control.
When the milking parlour was clean, the morning jobs were done so we had a breakfast break. After this, I was asked to paint the walls of the milking parlour which I had previously cleaned with a pressure-washer. I used chlorinated paint for the brick and emulsion gloss for the wood. This task filled the rest of the day, but by the time I needed to leave, the walls were white and as the farmer said – the cows would think they had walked into the wrong farm!
Finally, I rinsed the calves’ water buckets and went home, pleased with all I had learnt over the past week. I have realised the careful balance between animal care and economic gain which has to be maintained. I have also learnt how every job on a farm is crucial to the running of it, whether it feeding or painting. I think that cows are wonderful and beautiful creatures. They are always inquisitive and from such a young age they learn and develop alongside human beings so that a fascinating relationship is formed between the farmer and his animals.
Thank you so much to Steve Lynes and everyone else on Street Farm Dairy for giving me this fantastic opportunity to experience work alongside them and their cows.