Tereza Fairbairn

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In 2012 Tereza Fairbairn, had just moved to Bures St Mary near Sudbury with her husband Tim, and their young son when she was told that she was going to be made redundant from her job in London. Whilst she was pragmatic about her job, what she didn’t expect was that her work colleagues had decided to give her a pedigree goat as a leaving gift!

As Tereza worked with Tim, she had tipped him off for a pair of wellies as a leaving present if there was a whip round so was extremely shocked when Tim came home and started warming her up to the idea of something more ‘caprine’. She had been on a cheese making course at Reaseheath Agricultural College and so was really interested in dairy produce and her colleagues had decided that a goat would keep her busy and give her the opportunity to take her hobby forward if she wanted to. There was only one problem, when her team had called the breeder, they had been told that goats couldn’t be kept alone and that she would need a pair.

So Tereza, filled with apprehension of goats eating anything including washing, and worst still butting and biting, drove up to Cambridgeshire and was greeted by Dreda and Ro Randall and their fabulous herd of pedigree dairy goats at Monach Farm. Monach keep a number of superb breeds the white Saanen, the British Alpine and the Anglo Nubian, but Tereza’s eye fell on the beautiful British Toggenburg, a dairy goat with fawn to chocolate brown Swiss markings and immediately she had visions of the Alps, mountain herbs and flowers and knew that this was the breed for her. Needless to say she had completely forgotten all her anxieties about acquiring a couple of goats and was busy negotiating when she could get them home.

Not wanting to accept this gift without first learning how to look after livestock and in particular goats, Tereza and Tim went on a goat husbandry course first at Monach Farm and Tereza remembers clearly that at no time did Dreda and Ro ever assume that these goats were going to be pets, and that they spoke to her as if she would be breeding from them and milking them, which she took with a pinch of salt at the time thinking that neither of those scenarios would be happening anytime soon. Two goat kids, Monach Kundmannia and Monach Kolkwitzia, to be known as Liesl and Gretel duly arrived 6 weeks later and were bedded down in the lap of luxury and milk fed into the Autumn.

The following May, Liesl and Gretel went first to Hadleigh Show and then Tendring Show and won a few rosettes, Tereza and Tim were very pleased and weren’t really thinking past that when the phone rang and it was Dreda Randall asking if they could rehome a pair of pedigree British Toggenburg milkers who had fallen on hard times. Tim said ‘Absolutely not!’. Three weeks later, with trailer in tow they were heading back up to Cambridgeshire to pick up Lotte and Elsa to bring them back down to Bures St Mary. On arrival both girls needed milking immediately; Tereza got her jam pan out and sat down to hand milk but it just wasn’t coming naturally for her. Fortuitously, a friend drove up the drive at that moment and took over the reins having had goats 15 years prior, and after a fortnight of struggles Tereza was milking the goats and most of the milk was going in the pan.

Then Tereza thought that it was perhaps time to find a male goat for Liesl and Gretel. She carefully studied the pedigree lines and decided on a billy in Billericay and duly took the girls for a months holiday to get to know their husband.

In the meantime, Tereza had a chance conversation with Leigh Alston, a local historian who mentioned that the area of Bures St Mary where she and Tim live was known in the 12th century as the hamlet of Fulebroc, meaning ‘foul’ or ‘full’ brook. Tereza researched this via the Stoke by Clare Cartulary and indeed the brook remains to this day and now passes under the Sudbury road heading down to the Stour. The modernised name Fulibroch was an excellent herd name and Tereza duly registered this as her herd prefix with the British Goat Society. She also decided that any female dairy goats born to the Fulibroch herd would take the names of historic local women and in late February along came Fulibroch Waldegrave, named after Jemima Waldegrave of Smallbridge Hall and Fulibroch de Vere, named after Alice de Vere whose tomb is in St Stephens Chapel in Bures.

By now, there was a milk lake and the goats were costing a lot to maintain. It was clear they needed to start paying for themselves and dairying to sell the surplus milk was the obvious answer. Tereza started to unpick the minefield of legislation and regulations around producing milk and over the course of a year built a small dairy suitable to meet the necessary requirements to produce raw milk and this is now a registered milk production holding.

May 2014 saw the Hadleigh show once again and much to Tereza’s surprise the Fulibroch herd took a number of rosettes but mainly first in the British Toggenburg Milker, Best Milker in Show, Best Goat in Show, the Novice cup and the JR Egerton Memorial Cup. The pace was starting to pick up.

 Top prizes

In September 2014, the dairy produced its first hand milked raw surplus milk sold from the farm gate in Bures St Mary and Tereza and Tim had their first market stall at the Bures Transition Local Produce Market on Bures Common.

Tereza’s philosophy has always been keep it simple and local; she doesn’t use standard veterinarian medicines unless necessary and the goats are managed using the natural herbs and medicinal plants growing on and around the smallholding. Wildflower hay and best barley straw are offered to the goats along with plenty of browse and a locally sourced dairy goat pellet. This has resulted in a healthy herd which gives premium quality, creamy full fat raw milk. Being environmentally aware is really important and so where possible supplies are sourced locally, waste is kept to an absolute minimum and utilities are controlled.

 The milk being bottled

Whilst selling the surplus milk has been successful, it became apparent that there are people out there who don’t want to try goats milk and so in order to support the goat herd further, Tereza asked a local Suffolk soapmaker to make a range of soaps for the Fulibroch Dairy inspired by the goats and the plants growing on the smallholding. The dairy now stocks Plain and Simple soap, a Chamomile and Lavender soap for younger skins inspired by the goat kids, Nettle and Mint for teenage and problem skin inspired by the goatlings and a Rosehip and Shea cleansing bar inspired by the milking does, with new lines on the way. Tereza’s soaps contain no synthetic chemicals and are very gentle on the skin and have been immensely popular.

Once again visits were made to the billy in Billericay and as a consequence this year, the herd was joined by a number of goat kids including Fulibroch Parke, named after Martha Parke who went to America from Bures on the Mayflower fleet and Fulibroch Edmund, named after St Edmund.

At the 2015 Hadleigh Show, the Fulibroch herd once again won a first in the British Toggenburg Milker, Best Milker in Show, Best Goat in Show and the JR Egerton Memorial Cup much to Tereza and Tim’s delight.

So what next for the Fulibroch Dairy? Tereza and Tim do not run a commercial operation and are simply supporting the breeding and maintenance of their herd but with the advent of goat meat on the British menu, the herd has now been joined by a pedigree South African Red Boer male and Tereza has a number of goat kids being raised for meat on surplus milk and natural browse and this kid meat will be available in the Autumn. Goat kid meat is low in fat, tastes similar to lamb and can be cooked in exactly the same way. It is especially good cooked in the Greek kleftico style in a parcel in a slow oven or on the BBQ, and Tereza willingly shares her recipes with her customers.

As well as the goats having visited the local school and events on Bures common, Tereza has given a number of talks about setting up the goat herd and the dairy and receives occasional private groups to visit the herd. The Fulibroch Dairy is now a partner of the Stour Valley Education Network and hopes to provide education to aspiring smallholders and those interested in small scale dairying as well as those who have an interest in the provenance of local food.

Fulibroch raw goats milk is currently available from Ruse the Butchers in Long Melford and Blackwells Farm Shop in Coggeshall. If you are interested in purchasing raw milk from the farm gate, soap or goats meat or would like further information about booking Tereza for a talk, booking a group visit to the dairy or have an enquiry about the goats and stud males please contact fulibrochherd@yahoo.com or telephone 01787 229914.