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Day in the Life: Jill Clark, co-owner of Connage Highland Dairy

Jill tells us about her day on the farm in Ardersier.

Published: April 27, 2021
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5.30am

I’m an early riser, so I have breakfast now, while my husband Callum goes to pick up the milk from the farm for the day’s cheesemaking.

I linger over a cuppa to read the news here, and in my home country of Australia, check emails and WhatsApp the family.

8.45am

Time to go to the dairy to meet with the dispatch team to prepare the online cheese orders, so they’re ready for the courier.

10am

Into The Cheese Pantry, our temperature controlled cheese room, to dress the cheeses ready for opening.

Customers still very much come to the shop, with full distancing and hygiene measures in place, but we’ve recently opened our Connage Express vending machines.

They are open from 7am to 7pm and it’ll be interesting to see if customer shopping patterns change as a result of this new introduction.

11am

I make a coffee and head to the office to buy items for The Cheese Pantry from wholesalers and producers, and answer emails.

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In between, I will also serve customers in the shop. We usually have four great girls working there too but we’ve had to furlough them for now, so it’s just me serving.

The silver lining is that I really enjoy chatting to our customers myself.

1pm

Our Labrador, Tess, is hungry by now, so Callum takes her home (it’s almost next door) for lunch.

I eat at my desk so I can keep an eye on the shop.

2pm

The rest of the afternoon is spent between the shop and vending machine customers.

If it is quiet, I’ll have time to email our PR, look at cheese trends and book in a few Zoom events.

Since lockdown, it’s been interesting how things have changed and, from being a complete Zoom novice, I’ve now embraced the technology and delivered a number of cheese tastings virtually.

4pm

The shop closes and the cheeses are put to bed for the night. 

We restock the vending machines again (they’ve been popular so need quite a bit of refilling) and meet with production staff to check how their day went.

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We deliver any local internet orders into Nairn ourselves.

Sometimes I’ll do that, taking the opportunity to listen to the radio.

I’ll also pick up any stock for our shop from local producers - bacon, biscuits, chutney, honey and more.

6pm

I head home, cook supper and try to spend time with Callum that doesn’t involve talking about work!

7pm

I close the vending room for the night, and give Tess a run in the field on the way home.

Then the three of us relax by the fire.

9pm

Bed and book time – lately I have been reading the first paragraph over and over and never seem to get any further.

Hopefully once things start to return to normal I’ll have a renewed ability to enjoy a novel.

Once I fall asleep, I dream of holidays and visiting family in Australia.

Find out more about the dairy here.

Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.

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