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From the office to the farm - and the UK’s first mobile milk vending machine

I used to be an actuary working in Leeds, which is a nice job, it’s all about statistics to do with pensions. I did maths at university and this job paid lots and was all about spreadsheets.

Then I met my husband Ben who was also working there. He said he was going back to his family dairy farm in Aysgarth, in the Yorkshire Dales National Park but that he wanted to change the business, he wanted to sell direct to the public. We decided that we wanted to make cheese and we still plan to, but first we have set up the UK’s first mobile milk vending machine.

We have a herd of 90 cows and sell most of our milk to Wensleydale Creamery at 25 pence per litre. Through the vending machine, which is a converted horsebox that we move from village to village each day, we sell directly to the public for £1 a litre. We park the trailer in different places and we hope that it encourages people to visit the villages and business there too - for example, we park in the George & Dragon pub car park in Aysgarth. Our goal is ultimately to sell 50% of our milk directly to the public, mostly through cheese.

We spend about an hour a day working on the trailer - emptying it, cleaning and refilling it. And then some time on the social media, but I’m used to that, I’ve been doing that for the farm for three years now.

To get this going, we had three different grants, one of which was an EU grant, for the trailer conversion, for the cheese-making equipment and for some bits for the farm. We’ve completely transformed the shed and the milking parlour and it’s all around animal welfare.

We wanted to sell 50 litres a day and at the moment, we’re doing 80. We get a lot of good feedback from people. It’s always nice when people say they like what you’re doing.

My career change from office to farm has been such a good move.

It’s way better being outside than stuck in an office. Sometimes I never left the office all day - I went when it was dark and I came home when it was dark. And I never saw my son, Will.

On the farm, it’s like life rather than a job. For example, on a Sunday morning if Ben says we need to move the cows, we bundle everyone up, put Francesca (our youngest) in the carrier and we go and move some cows. It’s really nice to do as a family, especially when it’s on the top hills. Will loves it. And because we’re all working together it means Ben gets to see his kids!

But I’m also doing a bit of actuarial stuff freelance as well. The skills are really useful for farming. I have lots of spreadsheets - a sales spreadsheet, a cows spreadsheet… All the cows have names but I don’t know them all. My favourite cows are Beyonce, Kylie and Maureen. She’s really mischievous.

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