During the OWLP Conference, Dr Susan Oosthuizen’s talk described the wealth of the region. How local farmers paid taxes helped show what was being grown, farmed, and sold to make a living. It all linked back to the management of the water. As the water is controlled, the meadows are allowed to flood, but only or a short period of time, they are then drained to allow the fresh meadow grasses to grow for the cattle to feed on. This nutrient intense food gave the milk a quality that produced a rich cream and therefore a rich butter. The politics of farming and drainage are complicated, and well explained elsewhere, but I thought this point about high quality milk was important and such a specific link to the area that I wanted to feature it here.
I have made butter before, it’s a fascinating process, simple, but magical if you haven’t done it before! It’s something that anyone can do, and of course children in particular will enjoy it. Though it takes some effort by hand, it is possible and results in a tasty treat.
On visiting the Cambridge Folk Museum, I was pleased to find a butter churner on display, and while I don’t have one of those to use, I have made butter with a jar and marbles before, so hopefully, if this is chosen to go forward to the workshop stage, I’ll be able to reproduce a useful skill representing the rich soil of the fens and the management of the water.
Dr Oosthuizen’s talk is now on youtube, do watch, she’s a great speaker. Click here.