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Enjoying life on the farm

For Tom and Gemma Otton, the best thing about dairy farming is watching their two year-old daughter Sophia enjoying every minute of farm life. 

The LEGENDAIRY Bega couple milk 150 cows on 400 picturesque acres just north of the famous dairy town and love the lifestyle.

 “I always said I wanted my kids to be with me until they are ready for preschool, so it’s good that she can be around with us while we’re working,” Gemma said.

“Being your own boss means that when we go to feed the calves, she can come with us. She’s with us every day.

“It’s a good lifestyle for her. She’ll pick-up sticks in a paddock that we’re about to sow or she’ll go on the tractor with Tom if she wants to.”

The family friendly aspects of dairy farming are a great help to the 24-year-olds, who are building a farm business from scratch.

Neither Tom nor Gemma grew up on dairy farms, but started working in the industry about seven years ago for a herd recording service.

Having got to know farmers in the industry, they decided that dairying would offer them a stable platform on which to build a family business.

“We got to know some really good farmers in the area and one of those farmers offered me a job as a manager and, bravely, we moved onto that farm and stayed for about three years managing a Jersey herd,” Tom said.

Tom said they weren’t put off by the ups and downs of the agriculture sector, with dairy farmers always seeming to be making a dollar, even when times were difficult.

“I saw the dairy farmers were doing it tough, but they were still buying a new tractor or putting in a new vat, so I thought if this is what it’s like when times are tough, it’s probably not a bad option.”

Having leased a farm since last year, the Ottons have had a harsh instruction to running their own business, but have a strategy of how to improve the way they manage the farm.

“I tell my workers to learn from everyone. Whether they’re good farmers or average farmers, just take a bit from them all, which is what we did,” Tom said. 

The Ottons have already had a taste of LEGENDAIRY status, with their four year old cross breed cow, Felicity, being named Miss February in in the 2017 LEGENDAIRY calendar.