We were now awash with milk so I contacted the milk marketing board with a view to them collecting my milk. The only problem I had at this time was the lack of a suitable road for a milk tanker to my parents place. The milk marketing board would lease me a mobile milk tank if I could guarantee ten percent fillage every day of the year. On a sixty-gallon tank, this was six gallons daily. Once a gain the trusty land rover came to the rescue towing the mobile tank daily into the village for collection.
The parents back garden had reached saturation point, my stock dotted around in little parcels of land around Little Gaddesden.
My fortunes changed in January 1980. An avid reader of The Farmers Weekly, I spotted an advert. Wayside Farm, Kings Langley, Dairy Farm with sixty-two acres. It was up for relet by Hertfordshire county council. The view day was the 5th February and applications had to be in by 14th. Having no experience of budgets or bank managers, these skills had to be acquired with some urgency. The application was sent in and we were amazed to be short listed for an interview. Another panic started then to decide what information and approach should be taken. There would be only twenty minutes to convince the Rural Estates panel of Hertfordshire County Council that we were the right people for the tenancy. The day of the interview arrived and one of the six people short-listed had dropped out.
The five of us remaining were lined up in a corridor at county hall outside the interview room. It was obvious from the onset that the other four candidates had far more experience, qualifications and money than we had. I then decided before I went in for the interview that my only hope was going to be enthusiasm and press the desperation point that I had built up my little business for myself. Another point I decided to press was that I had my own stock more than ready for new pastures. As my surname began with W, I was last in for an interview. Suffice to say the other candidates went in for their allotted twenty minutes and came out. I went in and came out forty-five minutes later. I was talked out and the panels’ eardrums were ringing.
I had taken the milk records and photos of what I had built or constructed. I think this is what swayed the committee. When I sat in the corridor for what seemed like an eternity, I was completely amazed when it was me they asked back in to discuss a tenancy.
As I drove home it dawned on me that I was to become a proper farmer with a house building and animals all in the same place. This did not happen until June 1980. My bank manager had grudgingly agreed to loan me £6000 if I got the tenancy of the farm. His parting shot as I walked out of his office was that he thought the banks money would be remaining in the bank. As you can imagine it gave me great pleasure to contact him and ask if he would transfer the money to my account as I now had the tenancy.
I was to move into Wayside Farm on the 1st June 1980. We moved equipment and household items during the day. The cows had to wait until after evening milking. The chap with the lorry was a regular hauler out of Tring Market. As the 1st June was a Saturday I had to wait until he had finished his day at market before he could move my stock. Seventeen assorted cows arrived in the first load, the rest following some days later when transport could be arranged. The seventeen cows were released into the largest field they had seen certainly since I had owned them. Little did we know the fun we were going to have.
Fortunately we had some friends stay overnight to help with the morning milking. Cows that had plodded amicably backwards and forwards across the common suddenly became racehorses only intent on racing around their new surroundings. The first morning milking at Wayside Farm took two and a half hours. Presently we milk about sixty in less time than that. This number in 1980 would have taken us twelve and a half hours to milk. It’s a good thing we do it quicker now! Once the cows got used to their surroundings things got easier.