TV’s The Farm inspired Tamworth Herald reporter Emer Mulvaney to try her hand at being a milkmaid…
The next time you see me in Asda I’ll most likely be in the milk aisle – grinning like a silly cow!
But don’t laugh because as I stand there pint (of milk!) in hand I’m sure to be in the throes of a very deep thought, like debating whether the luscious creamy contents of that carton is all down to the work of my own fair hand. And the chances are (one in 92 to be precise) that it will be.
I milked one you see… last week and I’ve got to tell you I’ll never eat my cornflakes in the same blase way again.
The Farm started on TV last year and the first thing I thought was ‘Oh no not another one.’ Turns out though it wasn’t all that painful – only because it was new I suppose.
This year though I spent the entire series sneering ‘Jeez, how hard can it be?’
So I thought it was time I found out.
It’s unfortunate that my little adventure was marred by the fact that I’m not the most organised person in the world and as a result turned up for my day as a farm hand in flip flops and trousers that were taking to the road like street sweepers (gimme a break I’m five foot nothin’!) but nevertheless I’m a trooper and so unperturbed I left the office, head held high and the sounds of raucous laughter ringing in my ears.
It is lashing rain but we are soon there.
As we pull into Statfold Farm we are greeted immediately by farmer Andy Gilman who sorts me out with some wellies and a rather cosy pair of socks. Then it’s straight off to the yard for some hard graft.
Weaving in and out of the 19th century barns I am immediately drawn to the beautiful buildings, in awe at their strength to stand the test of time. Andy’s family have farmed here since the early 1900s and at present it’s run by him, his dad and Nigel, their employee.
When we get to the main barn the cows are coming in for feeding and I am shocked at the size of them. They are enormous!
After feeding, it’s down to the business of milking a cow and although I believe in reincarnation I can now safely scratch milkmaid off my list!
Tugging and pulling and quite concerned about getting a kick in the face we eventually have lift off and I am nearly as proud as the first time I’d ridden a bike.
To add further to my thrill Andy then tells me that all their cows’ milk is supplied to Asda. (He gets just 18p a pint)
With that over we move on to feed the calves and I’m loving the mucky yards and beautiful view… the smell however I could live without.
Andy’s day starts at 5.30am for morning milk. Throughout the day he feeds the cows and does various other jobs like building, fencing and repairs. Then it’s back for the afternoon milk at 3.30pm.
Statfold is a dairy farm and as such the only animals it contains are the 110 cows, 92 of whom are for milking.
“I always say that sometimes it’s the best job in the world and sometimes it’s the worst. The toughest thing is that it’s so hard to get away from,” says Andy.
“Some nights I lie in bed thinking about what’s going on out there. Having said that the freedom of the land is priceless.”
So one last query before I go then… did he watch The Farm?
“I watched it once and there was a man milking a cow into his mouth so I turned it off,” he said.
And I don’t blame him but the celebs didn’t have it easy, they worked hard for little reward while being watched constantly on camera and what do I do?
Milk one cow and enjoy a lifetime of thrills in the supermarket thinking it’s all down to me (but watched on CCTV no less because if it’s good enough for them…)