Follow the fortunes of Muddyboots & Family on their East Yorkshire farm which has changed from dairy farm to luxury ice cream manufacture

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

a few hours off

Several important things have happened in the past few days, bank holiday, animal movement restrictions lifted & the lads have returned from Leeds fest.

The holiday weekend was truly heaving. Everyone along this bit of coast has commented on the fact. People rushing to the seaside to take advantage of the sudden burst of summer. We were well and truly swamped by good humoured customers, l even manged to chat to some of them for longer than a minute, quite a feat l can tell you!

The lifting of the movement ban meant that we could at last releive home farm of the weaned baby heifers. 10 arrived to take up residence in their new quarters. The farm will be their home for the next 2 years, only leaving to calve down. Straw filled yards for the winter & pasture from spring until the first frosts of winter.

Then, finally the boys returned from the weekend rock concert held at Bramham Park near wetherby. That has meant that l have, at last, managed to have a few hours off & travel up to Scarborough Castle to deliver ice cream. Yes, how sad is that, time out & what do l do..... work!

The sea front was teaming with holiday makers, stuffing their faces with ices, kids riding the donkeys on the beach, children racing into the sea in their strange 'anti-sunburn suits', old folk staring down at the fishing boats in the harbour. Arh, the quintessential English seaside resort.

One thing l did do was take my camera & have manged at last to take a photo of Anne Bronte's grave [see right[. As you can see, the grave is maintained but at the bottom of the graveyard is a, wait for it, car park. Words fail me.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

bank holiday approaches

It's nearly the end of August. Where have the summer months gone, june & july. Have l blinked & missed them or has something more sinister been taking place?

I think l can safely say that this summer has been as total wash out, damp squib, non-starter. No warm sunshine, no blue skies & no hosepipe ban. Can this be England? Have we been sucked into a time vacum or vortex & returned to the good old damp summers of yesteryear? Has anyone seen the Doctor of late? Is he still in Cardiff? Ah well, no use in becoming a moan-a-holic, perhaps next year the weather will be better.........

Bank holidays drive me, as they say, nuts. Why does everything close down for 3 days? well not exactly everything. Why do people go do-lally buying food for the next Great Famine, piling shopping trolleys to overflowing with food that will, more than likely, end up in next week's rubbish collection? It is well & truly beyond me.

Look at the roads this evening, caravans. Caravans EVERYWHERE. All heading to the coast armed with their air conditioning, satellite TV, barbies, wind breaks.............. I will admit to having a 5 pitch CL site here, and well, we are full for this weekend Have been fully booked for months. The phone is still ringing, hopeful caravaner's looking for that all elusive pitch for the bank holiday.

So for the next few days we will be battening down the hatches & going into 'survival' mode, life rafts & may wests at the ready. Ice creams, cakes, coffees, food, cowpats, all will be made with a smile & taken to the customer's table with a flourish. No one will know that we may be tired, grumpy & our feet may be dropping off, we hide it well. Cheese........................

Friday, 17 August 2007

teenagers, pop concerts & being stretched

Gosh, it seems awhile since l last sat down and wrote about the daily happenings here on the coast. I must offer my profuse apologies as it would appear that time is slowly slipping away somewhere. Days seem to be merging into one. Groundhog Day? The tourist are out in force, grabbing every day of sunshine as if it was their last. Tractors are out, racing about harvesting winter wheat & ploughing stubble. Blackberries are ripening & the summer visiting birds are starting to gather on the wires or in huge flocks swooping into the fields.

Foot & mouth has now passed from headline news to some where deep inside the dailies. It may have slipped down the 'sensational' listing but we farmers are still having to live with the miles of rules & regulations churned out by defra. We are having a major problem in as much that we can't bring 2 week old calves through to this farm due to movement restrictions & space is now at a premium for these youngsters on home farm. One strange thing is that our human summer visitors don't seem to be aware that there has been a potential countryside catastrophe. Few have asked if a] we are still open & b] if the footpath is open. Some of the regular children, usually small girls, have noticed that the little heifers are not in the barn & can be heard asking parents 'where are they?', if l'm withing earshot l explain that they have been turned out in to a field away from direct contact with people, l also explain why. BIO SECURITY!

Since the onset of august we have been extreamely busy & now with the bank holiday approaching, calm steady breathing exercises are needed at regular intervals. As things are going, more like brown paper bag on head & a few deep breaths. Last weekend our baking lady married, monday she had broken a bone in her heel. Signed off for 3 weeks.

This coming weekend sees Leeds Fest, a weekend of mayhem, loud music & beer. Somehow, someway. the boy team' have manged to grab the whole weekend off, l don't how they manged it, l have a feeling they booked tickets first then informed me afterwards when my mind was not in full control of my faculties. So, dear customers, if you come for an ice cream over the bank holiday weekend, please be patient because we will be rather transparent due to being very thinly stretched. We have been roping in friends with the promises of free cappuccinos & cowpats especially as we are due to be attending Hull Global Food Fest & Sewerby Hall as well! Never a dull moment here as they say! Still smiling!

Monday, 13 August 2007

long summer days

When you're busy doesn't time fly? When you are busy and tired, boy, does it pass slowly. It is the busy, tired stage today. Our baking lady, who incidentally also helps me in the kitchen, has taken time out to marry her long standing fiance. Nothing wrong in nuptials but at this time of year it has put a strain on everyone, which has been exasperated by a dose of summer ailments that has been passing amongst out younger team members.

It's one of the joys of being self employed, long hours, few days off & all the hassle! Wouldn't change it for the world, but 4 weeks paid holiday does seem rather nice.

The world and his wife, plus children & grandparents are now out & about in force. This is great, because l would think, most UK tourism of whatever description has taken a broadside thanks to the blurdey awful early summer weather.

Travel has become a real headache, for example, unless you set off early for Brid now, by mid-morning 6 mile tailbacks greet the desperate car driver. Road rage & accidents are common place. What is the point of over taking queue of slow moving traffic when you really aren't going to get to your destination any faster?

Well, we are now half way through the month, so provided the weather holds, [please, please, please,] we should be getting busier with each passing day, building to a climax over the bank holiday weekend, then, ah such luxury, peace will return heralded in by September.

Gordon has asked that l show his swimming prowess whilst clutching a plastic bottle!

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

a short burst in the spotlight

It's always the way, whenever you have to get up at some unearthly time, whether to dash for the airport bleary eyed & zombieized or, to get ready for your 3 seconds of fame, you just can't sleep properly the previous night, no matter how early you retire. Midnight comes & goes, your legs start aching, that fly just keeps on buzzing. 2 o'clock, the fox barks, the owl hoots, and so on, then, just before the alarm goes 'ping' you finally go to sleep.

Sleep, such a luxury. Peace & calm at last. POW, off goes that dratted alarm, cold sweat breaks out on your forehead. Where are you? No longer tackling the last few feet of Everest in beach shorts & flip flops, but groping for the button, falling out of bed, crawling on hands and knees along the floor, body on auto pilot heading for the shower which, hopefully, will bring instant 'wake up'. Well that's what the shower gel is called, something BURST.

So there we all were in the midst of the 2nd foot & mouth out break in the first decade of the 21st century, about to take part in something utterly frivolous! Hence the early start. Mad?

GMTV had contacted us, must have been last week with a plea for help, [doesn't that sound good]. Keith Chegwin & crew would be visiting various holiday parks & could we take part in an ice cream sundae challenge at Thornwick & Sea Farm holiday centre at Flamborough. Well, what can you say? National TV coverage [for a few seconds]?

So there you have it, myself, victim [staff] plus 3 contestant making, in under 30 seconds, what should have been a cowpat sundae but in these times of stress was renamed 'the wednesday sunday'.

Did we have a good laugh? You bet!

Have l changed my life style? No.

Will l be going to bed early this evening? Definately.............zzzzzzzzz

Monday, 6 August 2007

monday, everything is OK.................

As monday draws to a close, the school summer holidays are in full swing, the press have dropped the f & m story from headline news whilst we, the guardians of the land & providers of good, wholesome food wait in limbo, no man's land waiting for the slaughter of the beasts to begin or the all clear siren to sound. My husband has aged in these past few days. We have to remain positive. The containment plans must work, we cannot face another 2001.

On the farm side, we must be seen to be taking adequate precautions in the area of bio-security. We are lucky that the main milking herd is no longer here, which means no every other day milk collection by tanker. We were extremely lucky that by friday night the batch of heifers due to calve in the next 3 weeks had been returned to the other farm. That was a really good peace of luck & timing. The 3 month old heifers are now out at grass so their barn stands empty, again this is a bio-security measure keeping the public away from direct contact with livestock. This has brought tears of dismay from our younger guests who had feared the worst as the barn has viewing areas for visitors & the mini cows are a great favourite. It is so funny hearing grown adults doing 'moo' impersonations at totally uninterested livestock!

On a final note, and l must say, a totally flippant one, myself and a group of other country bloggers found ourselves named & shamed in an article penned by Times journalist Kate Muir. The article, which l have to say, was not entirely accurate, brought this household great amusement during the weekend so much so that l have been presented with a very tight hat just in case.....................................

Saturday, 4 August 2007

foot and mouth 2007

So, friends, here we go again. A return to 2001? Foot and mouth raises in ugly head once again. The press are in a feeding frenzy this morning, pictures of blazing pyres of cattle, the countryside closed down, rural businesses in tatters. Is this going to happen again, a mere 6 years after the last out break? Please don't let the incompetence of the previous outbreak happen again, the print on the official report is not yet dry.

Everything THIS time seems to have been instigated fast, & that is a first for DEFRA, even Mr Brown has cut short his UK holiday to chair the cobra committee. Have they learnt? We will have to wait & see.

Two points come to mind:-
Where has the virus come from?
The bio security in the UK is a non starter. Small posters in airports illustrate what food stuffs can be brought into the country. How many people notice these? Very few l would think. Besides what does it matter if you bring a chorizo sausage back from Spain, or bush meat in from Africa, whose going to stop you? So that means we should do like the Aussies, no food means no food items.
Secondly the immediate effect of no animal movements.
This is good in as much as the disease can't be spread to all corners of the UK like last time, but, it will have disastrous consequences on, for example, pig units, with animals waiting to go to slaughter on monday morning. These animals are 'finished' they are ready to go, being replaced on theses unitsl be youngsters. A big logistical & welfare problem. the knock on effect will be the same as last time. the major multiples will be busy today sourcing globally to fill their meat counters.

So today, the countryside has not been closed.
There are NO blazing pyres littering the countryside..we are assured this will NOT happen.

Where next then? Go out this weekend, enjoy the countryside, visit your local farm attractions, support your farm shop. Rural businesses have suffered badly this season, first with the floods & now by the over zealous press looking for that BIG story.

Lets just hope that the outbreak will be contained, after all this is the 21st Century? Will we be in control or will this be a nightmare only time will tell.

Friday, 3 August 2007

busy, busy, busy............

Today my body has felt 'busy'. Since the dramatic improvement in the UK weather we have been busy. Really busy. This is a good thing, l hear you say, but it seriously takes it out of you big time. It's a case of planing the week ahead carefully to ensure everything that has to be done is done, then you can work out when an afternoon can be squeezed in so that you can at least escape.

Certainly this week has been very much 'survival' mode. Customers begin coming in, sometimes before we are actually open, at 10. The visitor numbers gradually increase over the morning, peaking at around 1.30 when we are fully strectched in both the kitchen & ice cream sundae counter, as the orders pore in. If a 'Gordon Ramsey' is about to erupt, this is the time!

We only serve lunches until 2 pm, we can't physically manage any longer as the kitchen is somewhat small & when the dirty plates start arriving, we disappear under a sea of crockery & cutlery! From then on in, right until closing, it's a case of fixing a smile to your face, biting your lip & serving cones, coffees, making sundaes or clearing tables. This is the really tiring bit. Urgh.......

Fortunately for us, the ice cream parlour is split into 2 halves, the original bit & the new bit. The plan of action is that around 4ish we start to close down the seating area in the 'old' part, completely shutting this area down by 4.45, leaving only the new bit & the ebay scooping barrow serving customers with anything they like, so long as it is cones, until we all collapse on the floor in a heap or, when the last customer goes! This usually works pretty well, though you will occasionally get the odd plonker who will plant themselves in the completely wrong place or march across wet floors despite a plethora of WET FLOOR signs.

However, l do seem to have missed the point or been sidetracked into the daily grind, which is a bit, no, very much like 'Groundhog Day' the movie? What l had intended to blog about was my afternoon escape which took place yesterday. Much planning went into it l can asure you! Doing 'food' for a living, l am a bit of a food snob. I would rather not eat out then have to chomp my way through a Brakes Bros frozen specialty. So for me a real treat is some gastronomic outing. So, yesterday we headed up to The Star at Scamspton, which is run by Andrew Pern & his team from the Michelin starred eatery based at The Star at Harome. For non-foodies the walled garden is a mecca for keen horticulturists although l haven't actually been round the gardens. No time you see. Oh no, l seem to be allover the place with my thoughts. Well, getting to the point, finally, l had a lovely lunch of scallops in pea & mint butter served with slow roasted tomatoes.

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

free fall into summer

Amazing isn't it how a change in the weather cheers everyone up. 4 weeks ago we were in the grips of the Great Flood, today the sun has been shining all day, the sun shone yesterday & the sun is forecast to shine tomorrow.

With the dramatic turn around in day time temperatures has seen a rapid increase in visitor numbers to the East Coast. So this evening as l attempt to write a coherent blog, l must confess to being absolutely knackered. We have been inundated by happy customers which is excellent. It is a wonderfully satisfying feeling watching small children peering into the ice cream cabinet trying to decided which flavour to choose and then what sort of cone, or visitors, taking photos of themselves with their voluptuous ice cream sundaes.

A few years ago we were dairy farmers running a commercial herd of fresian Holsteins, trying to make a go of it on the back of unsustainable low milk prices, now, we have diversified and produce a high value product that people actually want to buy together with our on-farm ice cream parlour & cafe which welcomes locals & tourists alike with a smile.

From now until the schools go back in September, providing the weather holds, we are going to be extremely busy, and that is an understatement. The production team are busy making ice cream to ensure that we & our wholesale customers do not run out of our delicious, creamy ice cream made, of course, with the milk from mr moo's dairy cows!

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