A few weeks back, when Stu arrived early to start pasteurising, he had to clear a path in the snow for the forks, which we use to transport milk into the dairy. He said to me later: this is the last time we have to do this, isn’t it?
I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that our part of Wensleydale and where I live too, in Ribblesdale, pretty much ground to a halt on Friday/Saturday. Even Stu, who lives in nearby Askrigg was snowed in until the plough came out on Saturday, late morning, which is a first as his local council are pretty good at gritting and ploughing, unlike mine. It has snowed here every day for about 10 days and is exceptionally cold and miserable.
Snow poses several problems for us cheese makers, not just not being able to travel to work. For a start, the goats, upon whose milk we rely, as 90% of our sales are goat cheese, are not happy. I think we should have a round of warm applause for the poor old goats, to help encourage them to produce more milk. Snow and cold generally makes goats unhappy. When goats are unhappy, they do not produce much milk and this has a knock effect to people like us who need 3,800 litres of goat milk each week and right now, this simply
is not possible.
As a result, not only are the goats unhappy (and my piglets and Stu’s dog Pip), we have low stock levels, which is not a good position to be in. I like to maintain a decent buffer and whilst we will not run out, it makes me feel uneasy that our stock levels are so low.
I haven’t even started on the effect of snow on farmers who are trying to lamb around here. Or the fact that there is absolutely no sign of grass growing for animals to feed on.
Snow also has a bit of a dampener on customers going out to the shops and buying cheese, including ours. One of our customers, based in Richmond, N Yorkshire told me last week that when the weather is poor at the weekend, it has a very visible and tangible knock effect on him as the shops he supplies haven’t sold much, so they do not need to re-order from him, so he, in turn does not order from us.
It may be a very British preoccupation, but the appalling weather really is a major concern to us. Could it please leave the room?