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Last Updated: Friday, 1 February 2008, 08:21 GMT
The udder side of Glastonbury farm
By Ian Youngs
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

What happens at the Glastonbury Festival site when there is no music or madness? Worthy Farm in Somerset is a normal dairy farm - but the cows are rock fans.

Pyramid Stage in January 2008 (above) and during the 2007 festival

Driving up to Worthy Farm seems too easy.

There are no traffic jams, no super-fences, no tickets, no stewards, no security checks.

It is five months before this year's festival, but to find the farm going about its normal, tranquil business still seems slightly strange.

The place is not filled with cider-addled fans, mud or mayhem. Only a handful of people are milling around, instead of the 175,000 who descend on the site every June.

There are no global megastars or indie bands in sight, and the only sounds are the distant roars of tractors spreading dung and thousands of starlings swarming on the Pyramid Stage field, where swarms of music fans are a more familiar sight.

But this is still a working farm - it has been for 150 years. And owner Michael Eavis says it will be long after the festival has disappeared.

"The farm's been here forever and the farm will go on forever, but the festival might or might not, you know what I mean?," Mr Eavis says.

Michael Eavis at Worthy Farm

"I'm always slightly tummy rumbling about the festival, there's always something slightly frightening about it. It might happen or it might not. There's so many external factors.

"Not so the farm though. The farm goes on forever."

Mr Eavis hosted the first Glastonbury Festival on this land in 1970, and the event has grown into Britain's biggest and best-loved summer fling.

But out of season, it is clear he is still a farmer first and foremost, and appears to have become a music mogul by accident.

"I do love the festival, I love doing it," he says. "It's been 38 years now, a long time, but the basis of life here at Worthy Farm is really the cows and the milk production."

Mountain of wellies

Milking takes place between 0400-2200 seven days a week, and his 360 cows yield 10,200 litres a day.

Mr Eavis gave up milking 20 years ago - his staff do it now.

Calves on Worthy Farm
The farm is home to 360 milking cows and a further 200 calves
He says his day now starts with 24 lengths in cold water, pointing to what looks like just another farm shed. On peering inside, it houses a swimming pool.

"And then a hot bath and porridge and grapefruit for breakfast," he explains.

"Then the phones start ringing. At this time of year, we're going flat out on the farm and taking phone calls every 10 minutes about bands, who's playing where, who's doing what, who's running this, who's running that."

There are a few signs that this is not just another farm. One is the mountain of wellies and tent pegs that have been recovered from the land.

Another is the steel structure at the bottom of one field. It is the frame for the Pyramid Stage, the only permanent festival structure.

Abandoned festival wellies in a skip on the farm
Abandoned festival wellies fill two-and-a-half skips on the farm
It will be covered at the start of May, when the set-up work starts in earnest and the other stages, scaffolding, marquees and toilets begin to arrive on the site in time for the end of June.

The fields themselves now look green and lush.

"Just like a golf course almost, don't they?," Mr Eavis marvels.

Just seven months ago, his 500 acres were a monumental mudbath, and it took until January for the grass to grow back. It was so bad the cows have not been allowed onto the land since last year's quagmire.

Milking bands

They have stayed in their winter sheds, where they also live during the festival itself. But Mr Eavis believes they do not mind the annual noise and commotion.

"They certainly milk very well anyway. Primal Scream have to be one of the best milking bands," he laughs.

"We can't get Primal Scream every year though, can we, not for the cows."

I'm a very fortunate old bloke to have all this going on at the farm
Michael Eavis
Mr Eavis takes pleasure in saying milk is fetching more money than it has done for the past 10 years, and that is still his main source of income.

He pays himself rent for the use of the land from the festival coffers, he says - and that has helped keep the farm going.

"It's why I'm still here, I think, when a lot of the others have gone."

Now 72, he has no desire to retire from either the farm or the festival.

"Hopefully I can get another 10 years out of me, do you think?" he says. "Cold water swimming helps.

"I love it to bits, there's never a dull moment. Life's been very sweet to me really, and I'm a very fortunate old bloke to have all this going on at the farm."

SEE ALSO
Jay-Z confirmed for Glastonbury
01 Feb 08 |  Entertainment
Glastonbury bans metal tent pegs
01 Feb 08 |  Entertainment
In pictures: Glastonbury Festival farm
01 Feb 08 |  In Pictures
Who is Glastonbury's big booking?
10 Jan 08 |  Entertainment
Eavis has 'easy solution' to touting
10 Jan 08 |  Entertainment
Glastonbury sets ticket deadline
08 Jan 08 |  Entertainment

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