September & October 2013

September and October activities were each held on very contrasting spring days. From idyllic blue skies and warmth in September, when we visited Jindivick, to October gales, slanting rain and mud, at a dairy visit at Drouin South – all fun!

Jindivick’s elegant Broughton Hall is a sixteen year old garden evolved from a former cow paddock. With careful planning, a strong eye to the landscape and a stronger understanding of plant cultivation, the two acres of garden beds are designed with the back drop of the Tarago Reservoir. This garden walk was followed by a meander through the fascinating Jindivick Country Garden, a stylish, rare plant and garden sculpture nursery.

In October, Daryl Light at Drouin South and his herd of Jerseys and Guernseys provided an information packed introduction to robotics in the dairy. Eighteen months ago, the dairy process was changed over to fully computerised milking. This entailed a massive commitment of time, effort and innovative thinking. Daryl showed how the new dairy is designed to minimise cow stress. In fact, it is such a comfortable place that some cows wander in at their will several times per day. The key aims of robotic dairying are both labour saving and production improvement through detailed record keeping on each cow’s milking history.

With automation at every step, including the washing of udders and controlled gate access to cattle races and paddocks, longstanding traditions such as the farm dog can be almost redundant!

Members appreciated the level of financial investment required as well as the confidence of the farmer to handle high technology in the farm environment.

Complementing Daryl’s herd management is pasture development, with an emphasis on promoting dung beetles and minimising artificial fertilisers. Finally, when there is any spare time, this modern dairy farmer, adds to and maintains his growing collection of rare David Brown tractors, some of which proved to be great conversation pieces.

Women of all ages are welcome to join Women on Farms. The key criterion is an interest in farming and farming women. There is no need to be actively farming to participate. For more details contact secretary, Hilary Steenholdt, ph.5997 7395 or go to our website at www.womenonfarms.org for the monthly program.

For enquiries about this article, contact: Mary Hughes, Ph. 03 5628 4195.