Mary the Goat is best friends with the Jersey cows on Wana Farm. Thinking she might prefer other goats for company, Gilly Robartes took her to live with a neighbours’ herd. She wasn’t interested and jumped over the fences to play with the startled cows. Now, Mary has come home again to hang out with Daisy, Vicki, Luvic, Tolani and the turkeys.
Wana Farm is also home to a clutch of chickens who provide fresh eggs, a sleepy pig (who enjoys the leftover whey for lunch) and a few young calves. The calves stay with their mothers for 2 or 3 months before being weaned. They still live close by however, and get to nuzzle through the fence. The male calves will eventually become steak.
Gilly’s business has grown organically – her first cow (a Dexter) was intended to keep down the grass and provide a little milk. Then there were a few, and after attending a one-day course advertised in the Farmer’s Weekly on cheese and yoghurt making, Gillie was hooked. The Dexters were soon replaced by some pretty Jersey cows that provide between 12 and 20litres of milk a day.
Now Wana Farm makes about 40 litres of yoghurt every week and supplies many outlets in the Midlands. First, the milk is gently heated and then cooled a bit to add the pro-biotic culture, and then popped into a cooler box with a hot water bottle. Eight hours later, the curds are slipped into a pillowcase and hung up to drain off the whey. The process is a quiet one, with undertones of bedtime, but without the story. Gilly adds fruit flavourings to some, but her most popular yoghurt is Natural.
She grows her own mulberries and plans to grow blueberries and gooseberries too for interesting fruit flavours. Some of the milk becomes cottage cheese in a similar process to yoghurt making while the rest is turned into delectable crumbly feta. Recently, by accident, the cheesecake she was making was frozen and became delicious ice cream, so Gilly plans to add a new product to her range this Summer – Cheesecake Ice cream – Yum! With fresh blueberries perhaps?
Gilly is a regular stallholder at the Dargle Local Market held at the Lion’s River Club on the first Sunday of each month.