A family farm is making all the difference to their cows – and the proof is in the taste of the milk.
The Marsh family, who have been farming in Martinstown since 1963, extend such a high standard of care to their herd at Eweleaze Farm they even provide them with an Astroturf strip for comfort as they amble from field to barn for their milking. They also get a daily foot bath.
This extra care, and the unusual way they cool and pasteurise their milk, makes their products extra creamy – and with a delicious range of homemade gelato ice creams now on offer in their vending machine you can taste that creaminess to its fullest.
John and Patricia Marsh first settled on a farm just outside Martinstown in 1963, then moved to the 500-acre Eweleaze Farm in 1966. They were joined in the running of the farm by their son Noel and his wife Amanda in 1989, then later, their grandson Thomas and his wife Chloe.
The farm was an early adopter of the organic movement in 2006 and the family has been ahead of the curve in many ways over the years, with the latest innovation being the vending shed you’ll find at the entrance to the farm.
An initial offering of fresh milk in reusable glass bottles has grown to encompass eggs, local butter and cheeses, all made within a few miles including halloumi and brie, and this year the ice cream has been launched, which is made on site.
At first the vending shed was just a convenient way to sell their milk direct to the public, but the pandemic saw the shed mobbed with customers, with up to 600 litres of milk and milkshakes sold each day.
Chloe said: “The amount we were selling at that time was unbelievable. It was hard to sustain.”
The shed is 29-year-old Chloe’s pet project, and she likes to introduce new flavours all the time – milkshake flavours have included Biscoff, Crème Egg and rhubarb and custard and she is soon to introduce chocolate and strawberry ice creams.
People come from miles around to buy the milk, which is pasteurised slowly at the lowest possible temperature, which means the milk retains all its creaminess and sweetness. Nothing is wasted here – even the heat generated by the cooling of the milk is harnessed and used to heat water, thanks to an EU grant enabling them to build a new eco-friendly dairy back in 2018.
Chloe, who has a degree in equine science and has been a British No1 sidesaddle champion, said: “The way our cows are cared for really shows in the taste of the milk, but we also ensure the fats in the milk retain their flavour with the pasteurising process – I believe we’re one of only four farms using the technique. Most places quickly pasteurise their milk at much higher temperatures, but that affects the taste of the fats.”
Alongside keeping the shed stocked up with milk, milkshakes and other produce (you can also find The West Dorset Magazine here!), Chloe works a half-day in town, and rides her award-winning horses and exercises her little Shetland (or Sh*tland, as she’s a bit of a minx).
Cow Pony, so named for his distinctive black and white coat, has won numerous rosettes with Chloe. He was national sidesaddle horse of the year 2018. He is Chloe’s favourite, and boasts his own Facebook page.
Chloe enjoys spreading the word about the farm’s activities on social media too – want to know what new flavours of ice cream she’s made this week? Head on over to the farm’s page…
She also has a favourite cow, whose face was made into the Eweleaze Farm logo.
Tilly is an excellent milker, but she also enjoys a chin scratch and is a major nuzzler. Many of the herd enjoy human touch – a testament to their owners making sure they are kept as comfortable as possible, with regular ‘holidays’ from milking and a special pasture to recover in, next to the house, if they injure themselves.
The herd are all mixed breeds, with Friesian, Jersey, Montbéliarde, Fleckvieh and Swedish red in the mix, giving a multi-hued group. The family also keep a small herd of pet Highlands and have recently welcomed a rare ‘blonde’ calf. They can be found in the field next to the vending shed.
The family gain extra knowledge through linking up with other farmers and experts via the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), and encourage their staff to do so too.
Future plans include increasing the arable crops grown on the farm to feed the cows, including lupins and lucerne.
Thomas said: “We want to become as self-sufficient as we can and save ourselves buying cereal in, especially with prices skyrocketing.”