In September I had the pleasure of visiting a local Jersey Farm in York and spending an afternoon with a lovely herd of milking Jerseys. Since my trip one of Greyleys Jersey Cows has made it into the Lauren’s Cows herd, with many more to join in due course.
As you know, I love to know all about the cows I paint and who knows them better than the people who take care of the cattle every day. So without further ado, here is Melody’s Story!
Welcome to Greyleys Farm!
Greyleys Jersey Farm is a a family run farm in it’s 5th generation and home to 232 Pedigree Jersey Cows and 170 young stock. The Shaw family have been on the farm in Elvington since 1876 and always a home to cattle, but it was in 1968 the farm brought 13 in calf Jersey heifers from Devon and their current herd began! I spent my day with Helen, who looks after the girls on a daily basis, with the aid of her family and farm hands.
Above: Dave & Anne Shaw with the early Jersey herd
Jerseys have a wonderful temperament, which I think is what Dad fell in love with when he started working with them as a student. They all have a pedigree name and some have a nickname too. They all have unique personalities. We know them all as individuals and families as well as a herd of cows. Helen, of Greyleys
The thing that I loved about being around these beautifully docile animals was just how relaxed and at home they are. When 4pm comes around they are all gathered at the gate ready to make the short walk to the milking parlour. I sat on an upturned bucket at the bottom of the lane and took some pictures as they passed. There were a few nosier characters who stopped for a sniff of the camera but they soon joined their family again wandering off down the lane.
They do like to play their games though! Like a classroom of children with a substitute teacher, if there is novice on the job the ladies get great pleasure teasing them to see what they are made of! Usually by heading in the opposite direction to where the person wants them to go. ‘At Greyleys the cows are in charge of recruitment!’
I made special friends with this lady, who wasn’t interested in having her photo taken only having her chin scratched. Any time I took my hand away, she’d give me a look and a nudge and I’d go back to my tickling!
Something I found very interesting about this particular farm was their introduction of a raw milk vending machine. When touring Jersey Farms across Europe, Helen’s parents were surprised to discover milk vending machines popping up in farmers yards all over supplying raw milk to the locals. They loved the idea! Before long they’d built a small processing room in an unused cow shed and in July 2017 the Greyleys Jersey Milk vending Machine opened on the old garage forecourt in Elvington.
The milk is still pasturised so that it is safe for everyone to enjoy as raw milk is not recommended for some groups such as the elderly, very young children or pregnant women but it is as fresh as can be, from cow to vending machine in one evening. Open 24 hours a day, milk is vended into a free plastic bottle or into a reusable glass bottle that be purchased.
All the feedback has been extremely positive. Our customers love the fact that the milk is so fresh and comes from the local farm. It tastes ‘like milk used to taste’ and has a traditional creamline when left to stand as it is not homogenised or standardised.
Out of all the cows on the farm, Melody was a favourite of mine. Known for their doughy, Bambi like eyes and beautiful long eyelashes I think it’s fair to say that the jersey wins the award for the prettiest cow and Melody is a perfect example of that.
Full pedigree name, Greyleys May Melody, comes from a family of musicians! May is her father’s name (so kind of her surname) and Melody is her Pedigree name. Her mum was called Choir and her grandmother was called Piano, so as I say, a very musical family!.
The cool teal background of this painting reflects the serenity and calming nature of Jersey cattle and draws out the the stunning pinks purples and golds of her silky coat.
Available as a limited edition print.