In Wisconsin, it’s about the snow. In Derbyshire, rain’s the thing
Especially after last night’s misadventure (missed plane), today’s farm visit felt like a special gift.
My early morning flight out of Dublin brought me to the East Midlands, a place of fat white sheep on rolling hills, ancient stone walls, and lovely thick-walled houses hugging narrow, winding roads. Low, stone buildings, many of them hundreds of years old, are home to families, small shops or public services.
The day was grey and chill as I exited the terminal and made my way to a platform where frequently running buses provide convenient and very economical transportation to a wide network of towns and villages.
Robert Thornhill, grass-based dairy farmer, is a 2014 winner of a Nuffield Farming Scholarship, an award and grant given to farmers who want to conduct practical research about sustainable farming on their home turf and by visiting foreign farms. He met me at the Bakewell bus stop and drove us back to his 300-acre Standhill Farm. I am so grateful for the time he and his wife devoted to converation and comfort. He pulled on boots and walked out into the rain to show me his milking parlor and pastures. It was wet out there. Then he and his wife introduced me to their two young sons (just back from a rock climbing lessons) and we all sat down to lunch and steaming tea.
This post will be short, but I promise a longer report on this particular visit because Thornhill is nothing if not both committed to sustainable grazing and to thorough research about how to make this work on his farm. Again, more later.
Right now, I’ll say that Thornhill is a successful dairy farmer for what I observed to be key attributes: thorough, curious and experimental, steadfast and forward thinking.
Thanks, again, Robert.