Gaddesden Herd 4

I found another outlet for my Jersey cream. At this time Kings Langley had a very successful self-pick farm. They were more than happy to buy any cream I had but unlike my other outlets this was only in the soft fruit season.I needed more cows. These were to be financed by off farm contracting. It was at one of the sales I went to in the late eighties that I brought a heifer that was to become very dear to me, her name was Elmdon Fillpail Clementine.

After two years milking in the tie barn I decided it was time to modernise the parlour. In another building I was to construct a six abreast parlour, with Joe Hammond, a neighbouring farmer, advising. The second hand parlour came from Bricket Wood, a town some eight miles away. I had to go and dismantle it in the building it was in, carefully measuring and marking for reassembly at Wayside. Concrete had to laid, walls rendered. Another bulk tank (milk storage facility) was purchased from Piccotts End, a village five miles away. The six abreast parlour was to be increased to twelve two years later.

In 1984 milk quotas, government legislation came in. Everyone in the country who produced milk had a quota allocated. Money was taken from your monthly milk cheque if you over produced. Your allocated milk quota was based on the amount of milk produced in the qualifying year 1982. This did me no favours as at this time I was still trying to build up my cow numbers and then at the stroke of a pen I could only produce the amount of milk I had two years previously.

Fortunately for me the government decided to get on with the creation of the M25, a road that had been in the planning stages for many years. This road and its access roads were to cut right through my neighbour’s farm. His buildings were demolished his business became unviable. He was compensated and was able to buy land elsewhere. The land he farmed was to be divided between the other Hertfordshire county council tenants. In this shake up I received a further forty acres. At this point the government had tied the milk quotas to the land on which the milk was produced. These forty acres had quota with it so we were able to continue with our expansion.
Now having all this quota, milk had to be produced. It was a fine line between balancing production with milk allocation. More cows had to be bought in as if you did not produce three quarters of your quota it went back to the national reserve. At one point I had over a hundred cows.

This proved too many and then as now we found our land and buildings was more comfortable with around eighty head.
The next big upheaval was the construction of the A41 bypass. This road had been talked about for over forty years. It was decided that the road should be in a cutting to lessen the noise and disruption to the village. When construction started 300,000 cubic metres of soil had to go somewhere. Wayside Farm was to be its destination. The farm had a deep sided valley which would be improved by infilling. At this point over fifty percent of the farm was taken out of production. Having the acreage cut meant we had to decrease the herd size. The milking portion of the herd was down to thirty-eight cows. The milk quota had to be leased out as this prevented unused quota from being lost.

We were financially compensated for three years after which we were assured the reinstated ground would be back in full production. In hindsight all the estimates from the experts on the time it would take to restore the land were totally wrong. Even now seventeen years on we still have acres where we struggle to grow a crop. Deep sub-soiling, land drains, canal sludge, blood, sweat, tears and various crops have failed to put back the correct structure into the soil. Our landlords have been supportive in trying to reinstate the ground to enable us to get full production off it. During reinstatement new hedges were planted, new fences erected and new water pipes laid. Once again cow numbers had to be increased, so it was back to farm sales looking for cows in milk to get us back up to strength.