Nell’s Diary produces 150 litres of organic buttery golden milk each day from 23 beautiful Guernsey cows. Seeing the herd ‘moo’ and shuffle around the green fields of Eyford Hill Farm is a site quintessentially Cotswold. This weekend as the team celebrate their new online shipping abilities, Flo, Cow Girl, was able to spare us an hour to introduce us to the girls.
I think Cotswold Style Magazine had it bang on when they describe Flo as one of the new faces of British farming and what is clearly evident is Flo’s passion for dairy and agriculture. Her herd is an extension of her own family, which happen to be a long line of Suffolk farmers and a WWII Land Girl for good measure. Chairman of the local young farmers association, one gets the clear impression that Flo is quite the driving force behind Nell’s.
Flo joined Nell’s in 2013 and the dairy was the brainchild of Caroline and Adam Fleming and called after their daughter who has a traditional family name.
The small team milk the herd just once a day at 6am (a time of day that doesn’t see to phase Flo, “that’s an extremely sociable hour compared to what I’ve done in the past!”) which is key to the full rich flavour of their organic milk. The colour comes from a rich beta-carotone diet; clover leys in Summer and hay and silage in Winter. Flo poured us two generous mugs which we downed in about 30 seconds and like a pop eye, I felt my bones instantly stronger!
The cows, natural sun worshippers, spend from April to late September roaming the pastures and rest of they year tucked up warm and cosy in the hay filled barn. If I was a cow, it sounded pretty good to me!
Nell’s organic status is what sets the dairy apart from many others, devoid of growth enhancements and the overuse of antibiotics, it perhaps means that the dairy’s yield is lower. But it does mean Flo receives 35p a litre from the organic milk buyers, Omsco, unlike the 15p industry average. The organic status is checked on a religious basis once a month with batches sent off for testing to Soil Association standards – to Flo the organic method seems anything but a chore, simply the way things should be done.
Flo is desperate to expand the herd (“Maybe even 100 milking cows!” – I wondered if Adam and Caroline are aware of Flo’s enthusiasm?!) and part of that will be extending the milking parlour from five stations to seven – meaning more of the herd can be milked at once. And demand is sure to increase now the dairy have launched their online sales – it’s now possible to order the golden stuff from as little as just 2 litre starter packs right up to seven litres a go. Flo’s also got a really unique form of shipping, cramming a cardboard box with polystyrene and placing a 2 litre frozen water carton inside to keep milk cold for up to 48 hours. Flo says:
“We’ve worked with the Food Standards Authority to get final sign off and we tested last year on the hottest day of the year and it worked! We’ve had orders from all over the country including the Highlands!”
But if you’re a bit more local, you’ll spot Nell’s Dairy Vending Machines at Burford Garden Centre, Adam’s Cotswold Farm Park and at The Plough in Kingham. Using a reusable bottle, its a unique experience to received something a bit more nutritious from a vending machine rather than a sugary fizzy drink. You might have seen a couple of team members this weekend handing out tasters for the team’s #MilkingIt event at Burford Garden Centre – Tom will definitely be using the golden stuff in his next batch of Bird’s custard.
If Flo’s passion has got anything to do with it, you’ll soon be seeing Nell’s dairy vending machine dotted across the Cotswolds and I’ll leave you with this comment:
“Christmas day is the most boring day of the year, what do you do eat and drink to much – I’d much rather be milking the cows!”
Disclosure: Our lovely tour was organised complimentary through Crimson Edge, but all thoughts, opinions and nonsense are certainly my own!