Mike Allwood

12 October 2001

Mike Allwood

Mike Allwood is owner-

occupier of 82ha (200-

acres) near Nantwich,

Cheshire. The 175-cow dairy

herd block calves during

May and June. Besides

converting to organic

production, he is also

planning to produce

unpasteurised cheese

WE have just finished a week of great excitement – my wife, Sandy, and I spent Friday to Sunday at the British Cheese Awards.

This event is the highlight of the year for specialist cheese-makers, who enter their creations in the hope of winning one of the coveted trophies – from Best Cheddar to Best Soft Cheese.

Prizes are presented at the awards dinner on Friday night, after a few beers have been consumed, and we were delighted to receive the trophy for Best Fresh Cheese with our Spurstow buffalo cheese. Unfortunately, the engraver misread his notes and the plaque actually reads "British Cheese Awards – Best French Cheese".

The event takes place in Stow-on-the-Wold, in a huge marquee that fills the town square. On Saturday and Sunday the public are invited in to sample and buy from the cheese-makers stands. Despite terrible weather, the place was heaving with people and we managed to sell a lot of cheese and make some good contacts. I now have to spend a week on the phone chasing up all the leads before they forget who I am.

On the farm, we seem to be struggling yet again to get jobs done in between downpours. Our final cut of silage, which will have to be big-baled because the pit is full, keeps being delayed.

This would not be a disaster, except we pumped the rest of last winters dirty water into our main lagoon and now desperately need to spread this before cows come in. We have spread water and manure at every opportunity all summer, yet there still seems to be more.

Many would use the umbilical cord to get it shifted, but my own experience is that it is too easy to spread much more than 33,700 litres/ha (3000gal/acre). The first time we used the system I went into the field to discover that all hollows were full of slurry and the brook was a murky brown colour. &#42

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