Stony Creek Rodeo

We are not really a rodeo type of family but a local footy club put a on a rodeo last weekend so we went along for a look. The night drew a huge crowd but I think we remain ‘not really a rodeo type of family’. The rodeo experience is very removed from life on our farm, we haven’t used horses for stock work for over 50 years and we prefer our cows milkin’ rather than buckin’.

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Summer mornings

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I don’t know how many times I have had the conservation. ‘You’re a dairy farmer, all those wet cold early mornings, that must be tough.’ I won’t deny some mornings I’d rather stay in bed. But, l’m a dairy farmer because I love it; the cows, looking after the landscape, growing lush green grass, watching and feeling the season change and on days like this even the early mornings.

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Mid summer hay

Hay season is normally done and dusted by Christmas in our region but this is the second year in a row we have cut hay in mid January. Good summer rains have resulted in more pastures than our cattle can consume at the moment.

The dilemma is, do we leave the grass
standing and graze it off over the next few weeks with beef cattle & watch the quality of the feed decline or incur the cost of harvesting it and store the grass as hay. With plenty of hay and silage already in storage it’s not a simple decision.  Not too distant memories of fodder shortages and a desire to always feed our stock well helped me decide to bale up some more hay.

These fodder reserves will come in handy when seasons change.

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Dairy and Guinness-got to be a winner

Posting recipes on this blog was never the plan but…

I was recently given this recipe by a brother-in-law and he gives a very big wrap for the resultant cake. Now having tried the cake I feel the recipe deserves a place on the blog for ‘services to the dairy industry‘. The amount of dairy product in this recipe makes it a sure winner. Moist, rich and heavy!

I was worried this may be a waste of a good can of Guinness, but from someone who loves his Guinness, this cake is a fitting tribute to the half a can of Guinness I had to forgo drinking.

Chocolate Guinness Cake

Ingredients

butter for pan

1 cup Guinness Stout

10 tablespoons butter (10oz or 300g)
¾ cup cocoa
2 cups sugar
¾ cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups plain flour
2½ teaspoons bi-carb soda

Icing
1¼ cups icing sugar mixture or icing suger
8oz (240g) cream cheese at room temperature
½ cup heavy (thickened) cream

Heat oven to 180ºC (160ºC fan forced). Butter a 22cm (9-inch) spring-form pan and line with baking paper.

In a large saucepan, combine Guinness and butter. Place over medium-low heat until butter melts, then remove from heat. Add cocoa and sugar, and whisk to blend.

In a small bowl, combine sour cream, eggs and vanilla; mix well.

Add to Guinness mixture. Add flour and baking soda, and whisk again until smooth. Pour into buttered pan, and bake until risen and firm, 45 minutes to one hour.

Place pan on a wire rack and cool completely in pan.

Yes, it is very liquidy – don’t worry – this will make it moist.

Icing: Mix cream cheese with electric mixer and blend until smooth. Add cream, then sifted icing mixture and mix until smooth and spreadable.

Remove cake from pan and place on a platter or cake stand. Ice top of cake only, so it resembles a frothy pint of Guinness.
Makes one 9-inch cake, 12 servings

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More than cows, grass & milk

There is a lot more to our farm than cows and green grass! Around 25% of the land we manage isn’t used for agriculture. Like most dairy farms we have extensive plantings of native vegetation and wetlands.

We have recently been watching a pair of Fantails built a nest and raise their young. Unfortunately one of the parents was killed by a feral cat. We’re hoping the remaining parent can raise the three babies on her own.  

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Christmas Storms

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Collecting the cows for milking Christmas morning.

Santa delivered some welcome summer rains last night with 16mm falling during an impressive lightening display.

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The Cream of Christmas

One of our regular pre Christmas tasks at Montrose Dairy is separating some cream. This was a daily task many years ago on this farm, when the cream was sold and the skim milk was fed to pigs. Now we only roll out the old hand separator 3 or 4 times a year, when I have an ice cream making frenzy, we have visitors or at Christmas.  We had three generations on the job today, the process always ignites a few old stories from my parents.

There is always much debate about how thick the cream should be, invariably it always seems to be thicker than triple cream, you might call it spreading cream. Thick and super creamy it is delicious.

While this is a fun family activity the old separator certainly doesn’t meet the high standards of the milk we sell, this is one of those fringe benefits of farming we get to enjoy ourselves.

The Cream of Christmas

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Christmas @ Montrose Dairy

Jess the dog and a few of the girls from Montrose Dairy getting into the Christmas spirit. With a bit of help from JibJab.

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Dairy farmers have reduce methane emissions by 28% since 1980

As a farmer sometimes it feels like non farmers think of us as slow country folk who still farm as our forefathers did or profit driven, chemical lovin, nutters who care for nothing but our back pocket.

The reality for us at Montrose Dairy is we are somewhere in between. Yep I’m still producing food on this same piece of land my great grandfather produced food on in the 120 years ago and I am profit focused, we have to be if this land is to produce food for another 120 years.  The way we farm is always changing as is the way we manage pastures and feed our cattle.  Our dairy herd has been selectively bred to elite sires by artificial insemination for 60 years.

What is the effect of these types of changes?  These sorts of changes are happening industry wide on Australian dairy farms. Through changes in practice Australian dairy farmers have achieved a 28 per cent reduction in methane emissions per litre of milk.

Research by Peter Moate and his team at DPI shows change in farm practice has had a significant positive impacts on the methane emisions from dairy farms.  ‘We calculate, therefore, that in 1980 an Australian dairy cow emitted approximately 33 gm of methane for each litre of milk produced. But, in 2010, because of better feeding practices, genetic improvements, higher per cow milk production, and efficiency improvements adopted by the Australian dairy industry, this number has fallen to approximately 24 gm of methane per litre of milk produced.’

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Lights cameras action

I did take off the sunnies & take my hands out of my pockets

I spent some time on the other side of the camera yesterday. We had a film crew here who were doing a series of stories for DAFF (Federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) on the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emission’s from agriculture.

The crew was here to talk to me about feeding oils to dairy cows. Research from  DPI Ellinbank has shown methane emissions are reduced by about 3.5 per cent for every 1 per cent increase in dietary fat.

We have fed very small amounts of vegetable oils to our cows for many years now to reduce the dust in the dairy. Each milking our cows are fed minerals such as calcium mixed with some crushed grain. This mix can be very dusty making the dairy an unpleasant environment for both cow and milker, so we add a little vegetable oil to the mix.  This is a common practice on many farms and its good to know that while we are keeping the dust down we are also helping the keep global temperature down too.

Back drop for the interview.

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