Coles is making my blood boil

What a month it has been. On the home front Michael took the plunge and attempted the double knee replacement . The less said about the outcome of that at this point in time the better .

Out in the wider dairy community suppliers to Lion via the Dairy Farmers Milk Supply Coop (DFMC) got the devastating news (and there is more to come) of what their “quotas” were likely to be and the atrocious price on offer for Tier 2 milk (milk in excess of quota). What was this bad news?  I am finding it difficult to even put the figures on paper. Farmers supplying Tier 2 milk are receiving a max of 14c/litre and some even as low as 11c/litre

I can categorically say the NSW dairy industry is facing decimation and in the short term its the emotional trauma that is hitting first for those farmers finding themselves affected by this double whammy.

As in any situation like this, various factors have bought on the conditions DFMC suppliers find themselves in. The one underlying factor that is preventing any hope of a revival is the Milk Price Wars started by the Coles Prices are Down Campaign  that comes surrounded with spin like this COLES CUTS PRICES AGAIN TO HELP AUSTRALIAN FAMILIES.

Well I can tell you Coles there are a lot of wonderful, caring dairy farming families hurting very badly at the moment and I am finding it hard to believe you are that naive that you think Australian families want you to destroy other families to deliver an extra $450 savings in their pockets by shopping at Coles

Then this came along and it made me even more furious. In another blatant marketing gimmick Coles has announced it wants to put video cameras on Aussie Farms. This stunt has been covered superbly by Milk Maid Marian in these two blog posts

http://milkmaidmarian.com/2012/08/10/coles-wants-video-cameras-on-aussie-farms/

http://milkmaidmarian.com/2012/08/10/coles-wont-rule-out-cctv-on-australian-farms/

As soon as I have a window I will be officially inviting Coles leadership team to our farm. I can offer them 6 star Eco accommodation, hands on milking experiences as well as a guided tour of our dairy facilities, pasture research trials and natural resource management activities but that will have to wait a few weeks.

Today I am off to Canberra with my farm consultant Dr Neil Moss. Neil and I both care very much about our fellow dairy farmers and we are doing everything in our control to make the future a better world for them to farm in

Today we have a wonderful opportunity to talk to some very bright minds in Australian Government Lands and Coast and we will be listening and having highly productive two way conversations and we will come up with a plan I am confident of that.

And we need to, because, Australia we have a big problem, the supply value chain model isn’t working and we have to get it remodelled fast.

Sustainability must be embedded in the supply chain system. It is imperative we have partnerships between community, government and the private sector to enable our farmers to continue to supply the best quality products for people, animals and the planet.

This will only happy when our supply chain partners become advocates for our farmers and sadly Coles you just don’t get it  YET but you will and I look forward to helping you see the light.

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Coles their future is in your hands – lets make it happen together  

Till death us do part

The trials and tribulations of the last 18 months have left us questioning our resolve to get up every day to help feed the world. See previous post

2011 started with a supermarket price war instigated by Coles that used “free” milk as a customer traffic driver with a laughable promise by Coles that this would not affect farmers

In March we had the 1 in 50 year flood and the heartbreak that brings including being utterly powerless to save one of our most adorable cows when she was swept into the floodwaters and found herself stuck in a drain with no chance of survival.

Dolman CL SIMOLA

Simola (pictured with Emma) lost her life in the March 2011 flood

Then all the Dairy Farmers (who supply National Foods) suppliers in our region felt the impact of the milk price wars with a 30% drop in their allocated quotas as well as a drop in farm gate milk price

Always looking for the opportunity we rose to the challenge and managed after much haggling to convince Dairy Farmers to allow us to bring both our Dairy Farmers contracts to the Clover Hill farm. In the first instance this required a $170,000 investment in a new milk vat. We were then able to grow our business, keep the staff we had and employ one more by supplying Parmalat from our Lemon Grove Farm.

This also required the purchase of 100 more cows and the need to grow enough pasture to graze 6 cows to the hectare which is almost three times the industry average. This is very doable in paradise but along came the 1 in 25 year flood with us now finding ourselves 4 weeks behind with pasture sowing and feeding our cows twice a day on bought in feed with the help of the mixer wagon which adds two hours to Michael’s day .

Michael uses the mixer wagon to supplement the milking cows feed when pasture levels are low

We have pushed the boundaries in the last twelve months at all levels and it isn’t just the landscape feeling the pressure. Every night Michael comes in and spends two hours with his knees elevated wrapped in ice doing his best to give everyone who walks in the door that big smile he is so famous for and it breaks my heart to see him in so much pain from the rigors of his job

On Friday some-one on twitter shared this article with me and this breakout piece so resonated with me.

Why don’t farmers retire?

“Agriculture is notorious for having a skewed age structure,” says Dr Matt Lobley, of the Centre for Rural Policy Research, University of Exeter.

“Unlike any other profession, there is not much separation between what somebody does for a living and their whole personality.

“They can literally go outside and walk around the farm and see the products of their labours written into the landscape – in the shape of the walls, the hedges and in the fields.

“It can be very difficult to face up to that time when they have to let go either partially, or fully.

“These farmers are also socially embedded into their communities, and they have an intimate knowledge of the land.

“They understand micro-climates of individual fields – which are the last to warm up, where you get frost pockets or flooding. That knowledge is often under-estimated, even by the farmers themselves.”

My family is proud to farm. We are committed to supplying affordable, nutritious, ethically produced milk to over 50,000 Australian everyday but we cant do it for free

In the words of Louise Fresco “Food is as important as energy, as security, as the environment. Everything is linked together.”

All Australians must value food at its true value and be prepared to pay for it.  Yet we continue to ignore this at our peril and we are denying these young people a future as part of the noblest profession and this wont happen either Julia if we don’t have the farmers to fuel the agribusiness sector.

Stand up Australia and be counted. May I suggest we all start with a signature on this petition to send to the Victorian Government to try & stop the National Centre for Farmer Health from closing. http://www.change.org/petitions/state-government-of-victoria-stop-the-national-centre-for-farmer-health-from-closing

Some generations embrace technology a lot faster than others

This weekend my dad came to visit and he took home is new toy, which I must say he mastered in quick time

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John and his new ipad

Now John has a sense of humour very like  Michael  Trant ,so we added his blog  to his list of favourites

Check out his face as he reads through The Golden Rules of Farming

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Update 10 years later in  John’s 92 year Michael Trant is a published fiction author ( and a very good one) So it was a no brainer that John would be sent an autographed copy of his book for his birthday

Now I am a 6th generation dairy farmer’s daughter of a 5th generation dairy farmer who turned beef farmer as soon as the opportunity arose. I can always remember John telling me from a very early age “Lynne never ever learn to milk a cow”

As is usually the case when John comes to visit there is quite a bit of reminiscing about his life growing up on the family dairy farm at Dapto.

John’s sister my Aunty Ruth recently wrote the family history and below are some extracts which shed some insights on my grandfather Walter Dunster Lindsay and what it was like to dairy in the Illawarra in the 1930’s to 1950’s . You can also see why John would have found milking cows with his father pretty frustrating. The post also gives some insights into why many farmers in the Illawarra were never particularly fond of the Dairy Farmers Cooperative who had a reputation for being very ruthless with their competitors

Some previous background can also be found in this  post 

Extract from Lindsay Family history by Ruth Rae

Walter was born into a dairy farming family well known in Dapto and throughout the Illawarra of that time. His ancestors had all been farmers, leaders in the community and very well respected.

He was a gentle man, slow to anger and rather shy. This shyness may well have been because he was born with a harelip and cleft palate, neither mended with today’s skills. He probably took more interest in his children than he showed but he seemed to have all the conservatism and indifference to his young family that he claimed his forebears displayed so abundantly. He left his wife, Ethel, to dispense both tenderness and discipline. Only once did he show anger and act upon it. That was when he was obliged to return to the dairy late one evening and did some damage to his shins when he tripped over his son John’s bike which had been carelessly left on the ground just outside the gate from the house. John, despite his protests, was the recipient of a sound hiding according to the traditions of justice of the day. It was only later that it became clear that it was a workman who had borrowed the bike, and not John, and had thrown it on the ground at the gate when he had finished with it. None of the children ever received any form of punishment from their father from that day on.

He did his work slowly, thoroughly and methodically, illustrated by his technique for washing up. He took responsibility for this within the dairy for half a century and, after retirement, continued it into the kitchen. First everything was rinsed, then washed immaculately, then rinsed again. It took all evening for he suspected that detergents had hidden implications for health. When he weeded a garden the result was just perfect and raked evenly to a fine tithe.

His conservatism extended to all things mechanical and, when a shortage of labour during the war forced Lindsay Bros to buy a milking machine, it was taken on with extreme suspicion and reluctance. For most of the war years the cows were milked by machine in the morning because it was the only way to get the job done and by hand in the afternoon when an extra person was available. Even with the machine his distrust was such that he always sat down and verified that the machine had done its work properly by doing a short finishing milking, or stripping as it was called. The cows gradually got used to this and saved up some of their milk for the hand milking so that some of them gave as much milk the second time around as they had initially given to the machine. Consequently milking 80 to 100 cows took an eternity and an inordinate amount of manpower- 6-7 hours a day plus another 2-3 hours for washing and cleaning the dairy equipment.

Milk machines sepia

In 1864 the first attempt to introduce milking machines to dairy farmers in Australia was made. However the machines were met with great suspicion and cows continued to be milked by hand twice daily seven days a week for many decades to come. Strange but true!

There was not a lot of time for other farm work or recreation and he indulged in very little of either. This remained the case until the “Karara” herd was dispersed in 1958.

It was many years before he could afford a car (his brother Eric owned one and that was the family car) but he was very pleased with the one he bought and he drove it skilfully and well.

He had a good relationship with Eric and they had nicknames for each other. Dad was ‘Andy’ when Gug was ‘Horace’ while, in other gender mood, Gug was ‘Katie’ and Dad ‘Lena’.

Walter and Eric began to value add (to use a modern expression) to their dairy farming activity by becoming vendors of milk. Eric was the entrepreneur (to use another modern expression) and Walter the anchor man. To upgrade the herd Eric went to New Zealand and bought a prize bull.

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Dairy Farming in the blood – 6th and 7th Generation dairy farmers Lynne and Nick Strong collecting Champion Holstein Cow trophy  at Albion Park Show 20 years ago –

It became an extremely successful business and WD & ES Lindsay, later to be called Lindsay Bros, was, at its height, retailing more milk in the Wollongong-Port Kembla district than any other firm including the Dairy Farmers Cooperative Milk Company. Some 8 or 9 farmers in the district sold their milk to the firm and this was cooled, stored and distributed through some 3 domestic milk runs and a wholesale network that included almost every milk bar and general store from Dapto in the south to Austinmeer and Coaldale in the north.

milk to factory horses sepia

Eric would go to bed early and set off in the wee small hours with a laden truck to start the day’s distribution. Particularly in the hot months he would leave the milk in the cool room till the last possible time necessitating the early rising. After the war draconian and unfair government regulations were imposed that forced all other farmers to sell their milk only to a government agent which was the rival Dairy Farmers Milk Cooperative.

Milkman Delivering Milk

The Dairy Farmers Cooperative was a ruthless competitor

With the loss of their major source of supply, Lindsay Bros were forced to sell their domestic business and retain only the wholesale business in the city of Wollongong itself. Their milk was subjected to regular and intrusive testing, while that of the rival company was not, but was always found to be well above the prescribed norms. Eric bought the farm, “Kembla Park” and a subsidiary dairy was set up to augment the supply of milk. Lindsay Bros also bought a small farm at Albion Park to run dry and young stock, but the retail business was only a shadow of its former size. The company could not afford or warrant upgrading its machinery to enable processing and pasteurization which were beginning to be an important part of the industry and the business and herd were sold in 1958. The Dairy Farmers Coop bought the plant which they scrapped to forestall potential competitors but the herd, which had become well known for its productivity in the State herd testing scheme, attracted excellent prices for the time. Walter was 65 at this time and Eric 64 so retirement was timely option.

Dad and Mum fell in love 7 years before they were married, the first of his family to do so. They had to wait for several reasons: her responsibilities to her parents (her two sisters had moved away and were working) and the need to have a home when the farm was established. Karara only had on it a weatherboard old house with no facilities whatever and a cloying smell of dust and age. There was also the matter of religion – he, Protestant and she, Catholic. The exact details of the arrangement that allowed this to happen were never divulged but Mum was presumably excommunicated from the Catholic Church because she never attended mass again. They were married in St Phillips in Sydney and went home to a rented house called “Lakeview’ at Unanderra- a house with no electricity and home to a host of possums. Gug joined them and lived with them for the rest of their lives. Dad spoke of the Catholic Church only with bitterness but he always avoided mentioning the subject of their marriage.

Fortunately, the acrimony did not extend beyond the church and the Carr and Lindsay families had an extremely good relationship.

After the business was sold the garden became a pleasant hobby. He had always had a love of nature and knew all the birds around the farm. He watched them nesting and was so determined that they would not be disturbed that he told nobody about it. I often regret not having been allowed to share his knowledge. Mum would always consult him before hanging out the washing, and I can’t remember that his forecasts were ever wrong. I understand that he had only one year of secondary schooling, but he must have absorbed a tremendous amount of knowledge later as he read the Herald from cover to cover.

One very cold winter when Dad and Mum were house-sitting in Cowra for John and Robyn, I sent them an electric blanket. This was a sheer delight to him – there was only one control and he would set it to keep very warm, while Mum, who couldn’t spoil his enjoyment, slept with both feet outside the sheets. When small battery radios came in he considered it pure heaven to lie in a warm bed, head in the cool air, listening to news from far places. Then I would be called in to prepare a very large, cold milkshake which he drank with gusto before turning out the light………

Sadly I don’t have a picture of my grandfather to share with you I must rectify that and fast

As I said my dad is 82 but he is determined to live life to the fullest and we couldn’t help but laugh when he couldn’t leave without first putting his destination into another toy his Tom Tom – after all he has been driving from the Illawarra to Cowra for almost 60 years

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Check out those low profile tyres

PS John hope you enjoy reading this post

Found a little bit of family history in particular the legend John was named after here

John Lindsay was a prominent pioneer of the region with strong ties to the growth of cattle breeding and dairying in the Illawarra. His success at cattle breeding- notably the string of competition victories for Honeycomb brought Lindsay to the attention of breeders throughout New South Wales and beyond. Due in part to his extensive landholdings at ‘Lake View’, he became a prominent character in the civil life of the bourgeoning township of Berkeley and Albion Park. He was the son of George Lindsay, another noted figure of the area who is credited by some to be the first man to send butter by keg from the Illawarra to the lucrative Sydney market.

John Lindsay was the second son of the noted farmer and local pioneer George Lindsay.

George Lindsay was born in 1802/5 at Fintona, a village in County Tyrone in Northern Ireland to William Lindsay and Mary Simpson. In 1826 at Fintona, Ireland he married Jane McCauley. They had four sons and one daughter prior to their migration to Australia. The children were named (in order of birth) William, John, George, Anne and Thomas Francis.

William: b. 1829 d. 1881; married S. Bryen
John: b. 1832 d. 1894; Kembla Park, Unanderra; married Jane Musgrave
George: b. 1834 d. 1896 Sunnyside, West Dapto; married Eliza Little
Anne: b. 1838 d. Berwick, Victoria; married James Wilson
Thomas Francis: b. 1840 d. 1889 Unanderra; married Sarah Philips

The Lindsay family emigrated to Australia, arriving per Orestes in Sydney on 14 May 1841, settling at Charcoal Creek. George and Jane arrived with the intention of becoming a farmhand and dairywomen respectively, and were brought over by A. B. Smith & Co. A bounty cost of seventy three pounds had been incurred.

George Lindsay opened a small store in Unanderra and secured two properties- one at Mt. Keira and the other at Charcoal Creek (30 acres), approximately one mile from the present Unanderra Railway Station. In 1843 George received a 35 acre gift from the N.S.W. government. With the assistance of his four sons, George commenced dairy farming and mixed farming (potatoes and wheat) at Lake View. This was brought to Wollongong by a horse and dray which was a common practice for the day before the Illawarra railway line had been extended to accommodate more rapid transportation of produce. It has been claimed that George Lindsay was the first to send a butter keg from the Illawarra to Sydney. This exchange was extended in coming decades with the Sydney market offering the greatest prospects for the sale of dairy products from Illawarra farmers.

The sons of George Lindsay continued dairy farming at Lake View. John Lindsay became one of the most well celebrated dairy farmers of the region. He commenced farming on the 35 acre farm that was given to his father by the Crown. When the property became too small for his operations, he rented a part of the Keelogue’s Estate, where he remained until 1859 when he retired temporarily from dairy farming. In the same year, Lindsay purchased Kembla Park, where he built a home for his family, and 200 acres from Berkeley Estate and two other properties adjoining Kembla Park that were 105 acres and 45 acres respectively. Beyond this property, John purchased 60 cows from Berkeley Estate. On the 19th of November 1866, John’s father, George Lindsay passed away at “Kembla Park” or “Lake View”, Unanderra. He was burred at St. Luke’s Brownsville.

John Lindsay and his wife Jane Musgrave were parents to four daughters and four sons during their time at Unanderra. The children were named (in order of birth) Ann Jane, George, John, Eliza, Sarah Jane, Thomas William, Charles Love and Lavinia Florence.

Ann Jane: b. 1853 d. 1903 Unanderra; unmarried
George: b. 1855 d. 1946 “Horsley” West Dapto; married 1886 Sarah I.H. Grey
John: b. 1857 d. 1930 “Horsley” West Dapto; married Mary Dunster
Eliza: b. 1861 d. 1944 Kembla Park, Unanderra; unmarried
Sarah Jane: b. 1863 d. 1948 Penrose Dapto; married Evan Eustace Evans
Thomas William: b. 1864 d. 1941 Kembla Park Unanderra; unmarried
Charles Love: b. 1868 d. 1950 Wollongong; married Margaret Campbell
Lavinia Florence: b. 1870 d. 1907 Kembla Park, Unanderra; unmarried

The timing of the purchase of two properties “Horsley” and “West Horsley” by John Lindsay is contested. One account suggests “Horsley” was purchased in 1876 by auction. The property “West Horsley” which is correctly identified as being located east of “Horsley” is also recorded, though the date and method of purchase is absent from the account. This account is listed in Illawarra Pioneers Pre 1900, which was compiled by the Illawarra Family History Group Inc. and published in 1988 (page 102). A second account of the purchase is provided by Arthur Cousins in Garden of N.S.W., published in 1948 (page 110). This account records the purchase of “Horsley” as occurring in 1866, with the purchase of “West Horsley” occurring a few years later. “Horsley”, a property of 500 acres, is listed as being purchased from Miss Brooks. It is claimed that John Lindsay established his son George at “Horsley” and another son John at “West Horsley”.

I think this is a pix of my great Aunt’s at West Horsley

In 1878 John Lindsay created a minor scandal amongst his fellow dairymen in the region with his supposedly extravagant purchase of a finely bred Ayrshire bull, The Earl of Beaconsfield, from Mr. Buchanan of Berwick for £100. In addition, he purchased two bulls, two cows and two heifers (all Ayrshires) from his brother-in-law, James Wilson. The risk paid off substantially for Lindsay by enabling him to establish a herd that was celebrated above all others in the Illawarra. From the herd he bred Honeycomb, which became the champion NSW cow of its day.

When the price of butter had declined to 6d per bound, John Lindsay together with James and Thomas Wilson of Victoria established a cheese factory at Brown’s old flour mill, located in Brownsville. The plant installed at the factory was brought up from Victoria. Local dairymen supplied the factory with milk that fetched a price of 3½d. per gallon. Within a few months the price of butter rose and the milk supply collapsed when it became redirected towards butter production. The factory was subsequently closed. In 1894 John Lindsay died at Kembla Park, Unanderra. He was buried at St. Luke’s in Brownsville, like his father George Lindsay. A cheese press used at the factory is also held in the collection of the Illawarra Museum. It is a double screw model constructed from cast iron and tin components.

In 1969 a small snapshot of John Lindsay’s time at “Kembla Park” was revealed during the demolition of buildings on the site. A bottle containing several items was found. The first of the bottle’s contents was a threepenny coin made in 1881 that had a small hole at the centre. The second item was a copy of the Wollongong Argus, dated 1 September 1886. Also found in the bottle was a letter that read,

“Kembla Park, Unanderra. This letter was placed under this stone on 2nd day September 1, 1886. This dairy was built for Mr. John Lindsay J. P. by Mr. William Newson for one hundred and ninety pounds. He was the largest ‘Ayrshire’ breeder in the colonies and was the largest prize-taker both for cattle and butter; list of children; September, 1886.”

On the back of the doubled sheet was written-

“Latest events: Sydney Agricultural Show; Quarter Sessions; The first Wild Flower Show ever held at Dapto; the first Ball at Unanderra.”

Where does my grandfather fit in?

John: b. 1857 d. 1930 “Horsley” West Dapto; married Mary Dunster and they had 10 children 

Muriel born 1887 died 1961

Charles born 1888 died 1964 married Eileen McPhee

Joseph Roy born 1890 died 1929

Walter Dunster born 1893 died 1967 married my magnificent grandmother Ethel Sarah Carr

Eric Stanford ( my favourite great uncle) born 1894 died 1970

Estelle born 1897 died 1962

Harold Thornberry born 1895 died 1959

Doris born 1899  (Aunty Dos – very fond memories of this lady) died 1980

Hilda born 1900 died 1963

Hilton Born 1902 died 1964 Married Edith Martin

[Source]

Garden of New South Wales: a history of the Illawarra & Shoalhaven districts 1770-1900, Cousins, Arthur, Sydney: Producers’ Co-operative Distributing Society Ltd, 1948, pp. 109-111

Illawarra Pioneers Pre 1900, Illawarra Family History Group Inc, Wollongong: The Group, 1988, page 102