Midlands Food Hero – Richard Haigh

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Article and photo: Nikki Brighton

“Milking a cow slows you down, you can’t rush and it grounds you” says Richard Haig as he leans his head against Marigold’s side and expertly squirts warm milk into a bucket.

Despite bursting with infectious energy, ‘slow farming’ is what Richard is all about. On a thin strip of thornveld with a view of Table Mountain, he is practicing the very best animal and earth husbandry. Making cheese from the extra milk which Marigold and Delilah (his two beautiful Jersey girls) provide is just one part of his operation. “Milk is a miracle, he comments “it is so versatile. What you can do with the raw material in your home is amazing. All from an animal who eats grass and hay.” Delilah has just produced a pretty cross-Nguni calf named Blossom with whom Richard shares the 15 or so litres of milk she produces each day. Richard makes utterly delicious haloumi, mozzarella, feta and yoghurt to go with his handmade bread, organic vegetable and meats.

Naturally, what you put in is what you get out and Richard pays lots of attention to what he puts in. No chemicals or drugs, obviously, and plenty of love. “You need to keep your fingers on the udder,” he says, “to feel small changes and react quickly. I taste the milk for the slight saltiness of mastitis and if I detect any difference, I milk three times a day to flush the udder and avoid infection.” Delilah and Marigold can’t believe their luck at being relieved from an industrial milking operation to live at Enaleni with pigs, sheep, turkeys, chickens, dogs and donkeys for company. “When they arrived they gobbled their food so fast because with the milking machine they have only 3 minutes to eat before they are moved off. They choked and coughed, it was awful.” Now the girls are perfectly calm and even demand a little extra when the first bucketful is finished!

Richard points out that one of the most delicious and comforting things is a bowl of fresh warm milk with some wild honey. “It’s too special”. For those of us not fortunate enough to have access to real milk, it certainly does sound special. Why not join one of his Bread, Cheese and Pasta Workshops? Taste a little bit of slow food heaven and learn how to recreate some of the magic in your own home. www.enalenifarm.co.za /enalenifarm@gmail.com