December on the farm (2018)

Loading milk churns from a stand to a lorry

Richard Fonge writes:

December is the quietest month of the year on the land, with hedge cutting the only real activity going on. The one Farm enterprise that is very intensive this time of year is dairying, with all the cows inside . Have you ever wondered on your walks or travels around the area that a dairy cow is not to be seen. There are very few dairy herds left now in Northants, with the nearest to us at Stuchbury Manor Farm, my old home until the mid- seventies.
Up until the sixties most villages had two or three small herds of milking cows, and there is remaining evidence of them in Sulgrave. The old broken down cowshed at Rectory Farm. The concrete raised block opposite Fleet farm in Little street where the ten gallon milk churns would have been placed for collection. The remains of an old sliding door in Stockwell Lane opposite the Shop, which would have been the entrance to the dairy there. But the largest dairy herd was at Wemyss Farm off Park lane owned and run by the Cave family.
By the sixties it was no longer viable to milk a few cows along with other enterprises on a farm, and so we saw specialisation taking place in all forms of agriculture, encouraged by a Government white paper of 1971 which predicted a shortage of food by 1996. Larger dairy herds of at least eighty became the norm, and by the turn of the century this number had doubled and milk production was centred predominately in the western part of the country where the climate with its better grass growth in particular,made it more economical in what were very hard financial times.

With my very best wishes for the New Year.

Richard Fonge.



2 Responses to “December on the farm (2018)”

  1. Ingram says:

    when we came to Sulgrave, Church Street was too narrow for the (small) milk lorry and a parked car, we had to ensure that our car wasn’t in the road when the milk from Wemyss farm was collected. Church Street is now wide enogh to cope with a big lorry and a wide parked car, the verges have just been squashed away.
    Joanna and Jonathan Gascoigne would leave Sulgrave school 70’s at lunch time and would take in the milk churns from their stand at Bentleys farm, their home; this was a lunch time job. Richard has not mentioned the Gascoigne milking herd. Jane and Pym now live in the cowsheds!
    The fields had cows, sheep, a few pigs and horses. We now see just sheep at the bottom of our garden and we are delighted to see them.

  2. My father, Philip milked a small dairy herd at Kiln Farm. I did the evening milking during the summer months when Dad was busy haymaking and harvesting. My homework had to wait until farm duties were complete! The old original milk stand was in the corner of the garden and remained for years after the bulk tank arrived.
    I can also remember Fred Golby hand milking his three house cows, in one of the stables that is now Golby’s Yard, no bulk tank needed! Great memories.

Leave a Reply