When the lights go out on farm

Jumping off the milk vat

Zoe leaps off the vat ladder to her Papa

Our power has become so unreliable I’ve given up resetting the microwave clock but this is far from the most serious consequence for our dairy farm. Unfortunately, we use a lot of power. There are water pumps, milking machines and, most critically, refrigeration. Our milk is stored in a stainless-steel 17,500-litre vat before it is collected by the tanker.

The vat keeps the milk at a steady 4 degrees Celsius to keep it fresh. As part of the co-op’s quality assurance program, the tanker driver records the temperature upon collection. If the refrigeration fails, we need to organise immediate collection to prevent a quality failure.

The most common cause of problems with the vat are power outages or spikes that mean we have to manually reset the compressors. That’s what happened yesterday and the milk was not kept cool enough. The co-op’s lab will test the milk to make sure it remained fresh. Fingers crossed.

Power outages also affect milking of course. There’s nothing worse than being halfway through milking when the power goes off and looks like staying off for a while. The dilemma is whether to let the cows out and know they won’t be comfortable overnight or keep them waiting in the yard and hope it comes back on quickly.

A little while ago, the electricity infrastructure company rang to do a customer satisfaction survey. I don’t think they were expecting quite the ear-bashing they got!