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Vintage visitors view modern milking

by Rod Kebble

Visitors to the Days Gone By event — which showcased transport and machinery from a bygone rural age — at the Rural Life Centre on the weekend of 26th/27th May, were able to take a short trip down the road on a trailer drawn by one of three vintage tractors to visit Pierrepont Farm.

Visitors arrive at the Countryside Rerstoration Trust's Pierrepont Farm.

One of the first groups to arrive alights from the trailer.

In theory the main attraction was the new milking parlour with its robotic milking machines, but many visitors stopped first to look at some newborn calves.

A newborn calf at the Countryside Restoration Trust's Pierrepont Farm.

A future champion? This calf — as yet unnamed — was born on Saturday morning to Day Dream Samantha, the Champion Jersey and Reserve Supreme Champion (i.e. all breeds) at the 2011 South of England Show.

Once they reached the parlour, visitors were impressed by the cleverness of the machines’ design and by the fact that the cows had so quickly become adapted to the robots and the attendant system that allows them to decide when they wanted to be milked.

Farmer Mike Clear in the milking parlour at the Countryside Restoration Trust's Pierrepont Farm.

Farmer Mike Clear awaits visitors in the milking parlour.

This was the first joint event of this kind that Pierrepont Farm had undertaken with the Rural Life Centre and it was a success, with 103 visitors on Saturday and 112 on Sunday. Farmer Mike Clear liked the fact that he was able to address smaller groups for a longer time than he has been able to on the farm’s previous open days — plus he had more time to answer questions.

Visitors take a look inside the dairy at the Countryside Restoration Trust's Pierrepont Farm.

Visitors take a look inside the dairy while Mike Clear (fifth from left in dark shirt) explains dairy farming.

At one point, both Mike and Bev Clear were each conducting a group around, while CRT volunteers were giving two other groups the tour.

Other volunteers manned (or rather womanned) the refreshment tent, where the hot and sunny weather created a brisk trade for ice cream.

Zoë Clear of the Countryside Restoration Trust's Pierrepont Farm prepares a cow for showing.

Visitors were able to watch Zoë Clear prepare Arizona for the Surrey County Show at Guilford on Monday 4th June and the South of England Show at Ardingly on the 7th, 8th and 9th.