Peter’s Legendairy milk run
Peter Dowel is a walking – make that running – embodiment of the healthy dairy lifestyle.
The 59-year-old Legendairy farmer is a fitness fanatic whose training regimen sees him jogging around his picturesque property doing everyday farm chores.
But the happy, healthy lifestyle isn’t only about Peter. He has a herd of contented Jersey cows that produce high-quality milk and plenty of it.
The secret to the good life at the Crossover dairy farm, just north of Warragul, is having a good diet and enough fodder to meet the needs of both man and beast.
Peter himself starts the day with bananas, kiwi fruit and seven Weet-Bix (with milk of course) and ensures his 135 cows get that little bit extra in their diet to keep them in top condition.
“One thing I feed them is brewers’ grain. It seems to prevent so many things,” he said.
“I’m far better off spending money on healthy food for the cows than having the vet coming down the driveway every second day.”
His cows not only have healthy bodies, they seem to have healthy minds to match. If Peter stands still for long enough (it doesn’t happen often!) his herd crowds around for a scratch and a pat like a bunch of old house cats.
It’s a relationship built on trust and fair treatment in the paddock and in the dairy shed.
“If you walk past the cows, you give every one of them a pat as you go by. Keeping contact with them builds a confidence,” he said.
“You only get out of a cow what you put into them and my cows are my family.”
While he treats his animals like family, Peter’s life doesn’t stop at the dairy farm-gate.
An avid ballroom dancer, squash champion and football umpire, who will officiate his 300th game next year, he knows that work/life balance is a key to staying healthy.
The foundation for his lifestyle, however, is his constant running.
Peter is quite the ‘Legendairy’ local figure. He can be seen on the hills around Crossover with his distinctive jogging style, which is significantly quicker than the famous shuffle of another Victorian farmer-athlete – ultra-marathon legend Cliff Young.
Unlike Cliffy, however, there’s no chasing cows in gumboots, but he does take every opportunity to break into a trot.
“Even just going to get the calf feeder off the last set of calves, even if it’s only 100 metres, it helps to save time for the next job,” he said.
Having been born and raised on a dairy farm, apart from a couple of years in the city as a young man, Peter can imagine no better way to live than among his beloved Jerseys.
Milking his own cows and growing all his own feed is hard work, but he never has any trouble getting out of bed to start his day’s work.
“We have the way of life, none of that hustle and bustle,” he said.
“They talk about keeping up with the Joneses … well we dairy farmers are the Joneses.”