Author Archives: milkmaidmarian

About milkmaidmarian

Our family (me, my husband, little girl and boy) have a medium-sized farm in Gippsland, Victoria. Our farm is rain-fed rather than irrigated and has been in the family for generations. We love our farm and cows. We hope our blog, Milk Maid Marian We hope this blog helps other Aussies get a taste of life on the land.

Skeletons in the dairy case

CowsDairyTrack

We know we are not perfect, we realise we must do better and we are proud of how far we have come.

Our cows live better lives than they did when I was a girl. Careful breeding has reduced the incidence of mastitis and lameness, while a new understanding of bovine nutrition has reduced the risk of calving trouble and helped us insulate the cows from the impact of both drought and flood. Our first generation of naturally polled (hornless) calves has just been born.

Even so, dairy farmers will one day earn a prime-time feature for all the wrong reasons. It could be someone doing the right thing that looks like the wrong thing: Continue reading

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Filed under Animal Health and Welfare, Community, Environment, Farm, Research

Meet the dairy farmers aspiring to the DA board room

You’re about to meet Lisa Dwyer and Michael Spitse. In weeks, one of them will be among the most powerful dairy farmers in Australia, occupying a spot on the Dairy Australia board. Continue reading

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Filed under Community

In the height of Sprummer

Sprummer's fading good looks

Sprummer’s fading good looks

The season’s first stuttering “skeet, sekeet, sekeee” of a cicada this afternoon confirms it all: Sprummer has peaked.

This is the time of year that makes callow dryland dairy farmers like me uneasy. Continue reading

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Filed under Climate

Isn’t doing the right thing good enough?

I am itching to watch an industry sustainability promo that stands apart courtesy of three missing words: “billion”, “economy” and “jobs”. Continue reading

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Filed under Community, Environment, Farm

From family farm to corporate farming in Australia

I am not Farmer of the Year, just Ms Average Australian Dairy Farmer, with around 260 milkers doing a respectable 7000 litres each on 500 rain-fed acres. But the ground is shifting beneath my feet. Although family farms make up 98% of Australian dairy right now, the big corporates are moving in and moving people like me on. Continue reading

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Filed under Community, Farm

Living with the Animal Liberationists and the hunters

Living with the Enemy: hunter vs animal liberationist

Living with the Enemy: Steve the hunter vs Felicity the animal liberationist

Felicity is one of the reasons few farmers write blogs. On the whole, we’re terrified of Animal Liberation activists and tonight’s episode of Living with the Enemy was an excruciating reminder of some of the rare but outlandish comments I’ve refused to post on Milk Maid Marian. Continue reading

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Filed under Animal Health and Welfare

Soaking up smarts for summer from Mr Silage

DEPI's "Mr Silage", Frank Mickan

DEPI’s “Mr Silage”, Frank Mickan

Chomping on a rye grass stalk with rain trickling down his face, Mr Silage gave it a nod of approval: “Still tastes sweet!”.

Mr Silage, as DEPI’s Frank Mickan is colloquially known, is a living legend. Continue reading

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Filed under Farm, Research