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After 70 years of milking Gwen finds it hard to retire

Kalbar’s Legendairy farmer Gwen Goetsch started milking cows more than 70 years ago when a bucket was her main accessory.

Today, the Legendairy farmer and great-grandmother, is still milking and says it has become a lot easier now despite her advanced years.

“I’ve always milked cows; I started off when I was about four years old. We had a bucket on the ground and we milked by hand,” Gwen said.

The advent of modern dairies with cup removers and safe walk-through stalls for cows has revolutionised milking, compared with Gwen’s early years growing up in south-east Queensland.

“You don’t have trouble with heifers today; the cows don’t have to be roped, the cups come off easily and everything flows smoothly… it’s more relaxing for the cows and the people who do the milking,” she said.

Gwen was born on the land and always lived on a farm until retiring to Kalbar in south-east Queensland, but leaving work hasn’t come easy to the 75-year-old.

“I’ve retired a few times,” she said. “I was sick a few years ago and gave up but I went back when I felt better. Then I had a bit of an accident and retired but then I went back again.”

Gwen still rises early two mornings each week to work with a seven-member all-female crew at a 250-hectare, 170-cow farm near Kalbar.

“I get up at half past three and we start at four o’clock,” she said, insisting that the early mornings don’t bother her after all these years.

“I just like the job and the animals,” she said.

Gwen thinks this might be her last dairy but she hasn’t put a date on her third and likely final retirement.

“I’m still enjoying it,” she said. “It keeps me going.”

Gwen continues to enjoy working with cows.

“You treat them right and they’ll treat you right,” she said. “We milk about 170 at the moment; enough to keep us busy. We don’t have time to stand around and talk.”

Gwen and her late husband Wilf had their own farm before retiring and Gwen remains a strong supporter of the dairy industry.

“People should know more about it,” she said. “Some people think milk comes out of a bottle. They’re amazed when they find out all the things you have to do to run a farm.”

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