For those of you who aren't...I grew up on a dairy farm.
The farm was owned by my dad and his brother, who bought it from their dad.
My uncle, who is of retirement age, is still pottering about the place doing his jobs.
And my dad is too but he's up before 5am every morning to get the cows in for milking.
They both do a lot of tractor work and are still full-time farmers.
Honestly, the only way dairy farmers (or any farmers) retire, is if they move off the place. And Mum & Dad, and my auncle and aunty, don't want to do that. So they'll probably keep on working for as long as they're there and they're able.
My brother and his wife are organizing the new dairy now.
And boy, are there some changes going on.
During the late 1990's dairying hit upon very hard times and in 2003 my family decided to stop dairying.
It was a big deal. They'd been dairying for 80 years, four generations. But the industry had become unworkable, you can't make a living when the profit has fallen away to nothing.
So they sold the dairy machines and the dairy herd.
This was particularly difficult because my brother had spent years breeding one of the best Holstein herds in Australia.
I took the day off work and went to the auction of the cows. It was a really sad day.
My family continued to live on the farm, they increased the few beef cattle they had and started making (and selling) hay in earnest.
Then a few years ago the milk prices picked up again. My brother could never really shake the dairy farmer in him out, so they rebuilt a smaller dairy, bought up a new herd (some of his own back from Victoria and New South Wales) and it was a dairy farm once again.
I had a lump in my throat the day we visited the farm and the black and white cows were back milling around by the side of the road.
I've gotta tell ya, I love those cows!
My brother is great at coming up with new plans and ideas and when he stumbled upon this one, he went for it.
Did you know that cows can be milked by robots?
There are dairy farms in Victoria and overseas that are fully computerised and the whole herd is milked by robots without a single person around. Seems unbelievable if you've ever had anything to do with a working dairy farm. But there you go. He did his sums, decided it was worth it, talked Mum & Dad into the fan dangled idea and went off to Victoria to do a course in how to run it. Now he will be the second farm in Queensland with a robotic dairy, as of next week!
I am so proud of my brother (and the whole family). Not only has he been working on the farm since he left school, he also became a part time DJ, because he loves music as much as cows...maybe more. And he has started a Psychology degree. Now that's busy!
On Monday we are all going to the farm for the first operational day of the robots. It's very exciting. And you can be sure I'll be blogging about it!
But in the meantime I thought you might like to see some pictures of 'The Farm'.
To me, it's the most beautiful place on earth.
|1969 - That's my dad on the tractor.|
|1978 - The new walking irrigator.|
|1980 - The view from the back door of Mum & Dad's house.|
|1982 - The first Harvestore (big blue silage storing silo)|
|1981 - The view from the top. Yes, I did climb it, it took me weeks to make it all the way!|
|1989 - Three tractors working on the same paddock.|
|1992 - After a huge hail storm.|
|2004 - The view of Mt Barney from down at the gully.|
|2007 - The cows are back!|
|2008 - Under flood waters.|
|2009 - This was the view from my bedroom window as a kid.|
|My brother & sister-in-law's house.|
|2009 - A misty morning.|