A Dairy Story

by David + Wilma Finlay in Castle Douglas, Dumfries and Galloway, United Kingdom

A Dairy Story
We did it
On 18th September 2022 we successfully raised £16,743 with 404 supporters in 52 days

We keep our dairy calves with their mum to suckle naturally. Help us tell the story behind our cow-with-calf dairy farm.

by David + Wilma Finlay in Castle Douglas, Dumfries and Galloway, United Kingdom

 New stretch target

UPDATE: Thank you to everyone who has supported this project. We will continue to post updates to ensure everyone who has contributed hears news and information about A Dairy Story. We do have some copies of the book remaining for sale, and information about that can be found on our website


We are absolutely astonished to have hit the funding goal for the book within a week. Thank you so, so much to everyone who has contributed to the campaign, shared our posts on social media and shown an interest in this project. 

If you've read our updates you'll probably have seen the Introduction chapter that we shared. That chapter explains the circumstances and the drivers behind writing the book in some detail and, as we were writing it, we decided to commit to another project too. 

Words on a page are powerful, but images on a screen can reach even further. We have started work on a documentary. We want to put a window on this farm for a year. The documentary will show the reality of life for us, for the herd, and for the landscape and wildlife. There will be no sugar-coating. 

We have given ourselves a year to tell as much of the story of our farm and our cow-with-calf system as we can. The reason? Because we know this system works and we want cow-with-calf, agroecological dairy to become the norm. 

Every pledge over and above our original target will help to support the making of this documentary. So if you pre-order a book now, you're also supporting this filming project. 

We think that some people may also want to support the documentary project directly. If you do, then there are some new rewards which might be of interest. 

We know this stretch goal is a big jump in terms of a target, and a big ask, but this project is a big commitment. We are not joking when we say we want to start a dairy farming revolution. We think a documentary might help with that. 

Thank you again from the bottom of our hearts. 

Wilma & David

We are on a mission to revolutionise the dairy industry.  We want to prove that a kinder approach to dairy farming is possible.

Four years ago you helped us put the final pieces of our cow-with-calf dairy system in place.

Today we are inviting you to help us tell the full story behind our farm transformation.

Review from Sue Lawrence - What a story! So brave and raw.

Dairy cow with calf at The Ethical Dairy

Our farming transformationWe started changing our dairy farming system 25 years ago. Six years ago we rolled out a cow-with-calf system across the herd. Three years ago we committed to cow-with-calf dairy farming permanently.

By next year we expect the cost of production - in our organic, 100% pasture-fed, cow-with-calf dairy farm - to be less expensive than intensive, commercial milk production. 

We think our journey to net-zero, high-welfare, agroecological dairy farming has something to contribute to the current debates about sustainable food production. So we wrote a book.

Dairy cow and older calf suckling at The Ethical Dairy

About A Dairy Story‘A Dairy Story’ is the story of transforming our farm over that 25 year period, but it’s much more than that.

It's the story of us; of our marriage, our business and the people who have helped us achieve a resilient, climate-friendly, circular food system. It’s also the story of this place; the landscape, the soil, the wildlife and the herd.

The world is changing very quickly. Farming needs to change too.

This book doesn’t claim we have all the answers. Far from it!

It’s a story about the challenges that change brings, the problems that need to be overcome and, at times, the very personal consequences of moving away from conventional practice to an approach that centres the environment and climate. 


Ethical Farming Conference 2019

Why are we crowdfunding this?There is no time like the present, and self-publishing seems to be the fastest way to get our story into the hands of those who might want to read it.

But more importantly, when we launched our crowdfunding campaign in 2018, we loved the way this platform gave us an opportunity to connect directly with people who were genuinely interested in what we are trying to achieve. You even encouraged us to organise a conference!

Crowdfunder seemed like a practical and pragmatic way to pre-sell our book, and pre-selling it means we’ll have a rough idea of how many copies to print, which means we'll minimise waste.

There are lots of influential voices expressing very polarised opinions on livestock farming right now. We hope our story has something to contribute to those broader industry debates, which is why we want to publish this quickly. 

We also hope that people will find the book interesting and enjoyable to read.

Wilma and David Finlay with dairy cows and calves

Is the book any good?Well we’re probably not the best judge of that, so we asked some of the people who are mentioned in the book to review it, and we asked friends who are writers to read it too. Some of their feedback and comments are below.

Review from Helen Browning: This is a tale of resilience, conviction, courage and sensitivityReview from Pete Ritchie: It's not about the cowsReview by Karen Campbell: A brave, honest and inspiring account

Frequently asked questionsWill it be published and distributed in high street bookshops?

At the moment we are focusing on doing a limited print run of hardback books for those people who support this crowdfunding campaign. If there’s demand or interest, we certainly won’t rule out publishing this ‘properly’.

Will there be an e-book or Kindle version?

In order to keep things simple, we aren’t adding an e-book version as a reward, but we might publish it as an e-book later this year. We’ve had a quick look at how this is done, and it doesn’t look too difficult so yes, we’ll probably make it available as an e-book in the future. But for now we’re focused on the physical printed book.

When will it be published?

We are aiming for late September or early October 2022. We will be printing the book as a hardback, on FSC™-certified paper stock.

How much will it cost?

Small print runs are more costly than mainstream published books, so we anticipate the book will cost £20 and postage and packaging to get it to you is about another £5, so we are asking for a contribution of £25 for a single copy of the book.

Is the book only available to UK addresses?

We can post it overseas, but please add a donation to cover international postage.

What's the E-book mentioned in the rewards?

In response to emails from people supporting this project we have decided to write a second book that will outline how our farming system works in detail. This e-book will be aimed at farmers and agricultural students, to help make our complete farming system as accessible as possible. Check the project updates or the blog on our website for the full story behind this. We will write it over the winter, and will publish it either free or at nominal cost in early 2023.


This project offers rewards in return for your donation. Please select a reward below.

£25 or more

A copy of A Dairy Story (UK delivery)

A single hardback copy of 'A Dairy Story' by David and Wilma Finlay, delivered to any address within the UK.

£10 or more

A thank you for believing in us

A personal email from us thanking you for your support.

£10 or more

Help make The Ethical Dairy Handbook E-book happen

A personal email from us thanking you for your support, and a PDF of The Ethical Dairy Handbook e-book when it's ready.

£20 or more

A copy of A Dairy Story (Collection only)

A single hardback copy of A Dairy Story by David and Wilma Finlay, for collection directly from us at our visitor centre in south west Scotland (DG7 2DR).

£20 or more

Help make the documentary happen

Access to online watch party of the finished documentary and Q&A with David & Wilma (estimated timescale late 2023)

£30 or more

A copy of A Dairy Story (International delivery)

A single hardback copy of 'A Dairy Story' by David and Wilma Finlay, delivered to non-UK addresses. Delivery will take longer for non-UK addresses: - Europe up to 2 - 5 weeks - North America up to 6 weeks - South America, Africa and Asia up to 8 weeks - Australia up to 12 weeks. Please contact us if you have any queries about reward fulfillment to your address.

£35 or more

A signed copy of A Dairy Story

A copy of 'A Dairy Story' signed by both David and Wilma Finlay, plus a bookmark designed by us.

£45 or more

Keep a copy, gift a copy

Two copies of 'A Dairy Story' by David and Wilma Finlay, perhaps one to keep for yourself and one to gift.

£50 or more

Documentary website supporter

Name listed on the website as a supporter of the documentary, plus access to an online watch party of the finished documentary and Q&A with David & Wilma (estimated timescale late 2023)

£70 or more

Documentary website supporter + book

Name listed on website as a supporter of the documentary, plus a copy of ‘A Dairy Story’ book, plus access to online watch party of the finished documentary and Q&A with David & Wilma (estimated timescale late 2023)

£95 or more

Friends & family book bundle

If you know several people who you think might enjoy reading 'A Dairy Story', this reward consists of five copies to share with friends and family.

£100 or more

Documentary Supporter

Name listed in documentary credits and on website as a Supporter plus access to online watch party of the finished documentary and Q&A with David & Wilma (estimated late 2023)

£125 or more

Documentary Supporter + book

Name listed in documentary credits and on website as a Supporter, plus a signed copy of ‘A Dairy Story’ book including UK delivery, plus access to online watch party of finished documentary and Q&A with David & Wilma (estimated late 2023)

£150 or more

Book club bundle

If you know lots of people who might enjoy 'A Dairy Story', this reward will result in 10 copies of the book winging their way to your address.

£55 or more

16 of 16 claimed

A printed 'Thank You' in the book

A printed 'Thank You' in the book as a generous supporter of this project, plus a single signed copy of 'A Dairy Story', plus a bookmark designed by us. This reward is likely to only be available till mid August due to anticipated printing dates.

£250 or more

4 of 4 claimed

Be our guest!

Come for a visit and enjoy a guided tour of the farm with David and Wilma. This visit lasts around half a day, and includes lunch, refreshments and a cheese tasting. The visit is designed for two people, please contact us if you would like this reward for more people. This reward also includes a single copy of the book, signed by David and Wilma, plus a bookmark and a printed 'Thank you' in the Acknowledgements (printing date permitting).

£1,000 or more

1 of 1 claimed

Sponsor 'A Dairy Story'

For anyone who wants to support this core costs of this project, like the cover design and the editing, you could become an official 'Sponsor' of the book. This would include a prominent acknowledgement of your sponsorship within the printed book, and several signed copies of the book. If you would like to discuss options within this reward, please contact us. This reward may be time-limited due to printing dates.

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