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Resilient farmers look for opportunities in adversity

Resilient dairy farmers are showing true grit as they look for new opportunities to combat tough times.

Karrinjeet Singh-Mahil and Brian Schuler from Crossley in south-west Victoria are determined they won’t be beaten by the recent fall in milk price.

Instead, they are looking to capitalise on pro-farmer sentiment by activating a farm stay business that will help them to combat lower prices and improve connections across the country-city divide.

The Legendairy farmers say they are determined to find opportunity in adversity.

“One of the positive things we can do is to diversify our income streams,” Karrinjeet said. “It’s a challenge and we’re not going to give in. This so-called milk crisis might push some of us to do things we’ve been talking about.”

Karrinjeet and Brian previously operated a guest house in Warrnambool and travelled about 20km each day to the farm. Their guests would often follow them. 

“They’d want to see the farm,” Brian said. “We’d have people in the paddocks being licked by cows and loving it. One Sri Lankan family saw me helping a cow give birth and then giving the calf mouth to nose resuscitation. They were surprised but they didn’t flinch.”

Karrinjeet and Brian built a new house and moved back to the farm in 2010 but wanted to keep a connection to their guests so added a separate farm stay with two units.

Now they are finalising the landscaping and hoping to revive their farm stay business.

“We were looking at how we could get through and we’ve got this facility ready to go,” Karrinjeet said.

Brian likes to show guests the whole package and pass on some of the ‘old skills that are getting lost’.

“City people want to make the country connection but often don’t know how,” he said.

“We have a real belief that we need to build links between city and country,” Karrinjeet added. “Most people in the city from older generations have a relative or can remember holidays on the farm, but the younger generation has moved away from that and we want to start rebuilding some of those links.”

Visitors can relax and enjoy the view and serenity, or they can learn how to milk cows, feed calves and grow pastures. 

Karrinjeet and Brian are also investigating options for cheese-making.

“We’ve got the milk, the land and the mindset, we just have to get out there and do it,” Brian said.

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