LOVING LIFE – COWS, MUD AND ALL
When their property flooded last year, Kaarimba dairy farmers Mark and Monique Bryant had little choice but to start walking.
“We had to move the entire herd. There was so much water, you couldn’t tell where the road stopped and the paddock started. With a team of people we walked our milkers four or five hours through two feet of water. A few calves tried to sneak back home, but that’s pretty common: it’s the maternal instinct,” said Monique.
Managing challenges has become second nature for the young farmers, who bought their 700-acre property five and a half years ago from Mark’s parents.
“Just after we took ownership, milk prices dropped to an all-time low. We managed through that. Then we had the drought, then the flood. We managed through all of it and now we’re still making money, our assets continue to grow and there’s nothing we’d rather be doing,” said Monique.
The Bryant’s response to surviving the hard times was to innovate; adopting a fast watering irrigation technique to help them save water and increase the amount of feed they were able to produce.
“When the opportunity came to upgrade our irrigation system, we said, ‘let’s go for it’. You’ve got to innovate as farmers. Every farmer does it well, whether it’s managing their cow records, how they house their calves or maintain their farms,” said Mark.
Like many dairy farmers, Mark and Monique attribute the farming lifestyle as the key to keeping them in the industry.
“You are your own boss; working outdoors, being active and having the incredible opportunity to run a multi-million dollar business is fantastic. Most importantly, you get to spend so much time with your family,” said Monique.
“Outside the farming industry, people read the stories and so much coverage is negative, focusing on tough times and doom and gloom. You’d obviously ask the question – if farming’s so hard, why are you still doing it?” said Mark.
“Our answer is we enjoy it and we’re making money.”
The pair hopes the new Legendairy campaign will give light to the real dairy industry, mud and all.
“We went to an industry meeting recently and saw one of the early Legendairy concepts and some people questioned mud on the road and the crooked gates,” said Monique.
“That’s life. I think people need to see that and to see real farmers. Not all our gates are perfect, we have mud. It’s not always pristine, but that doesn’t mean our products and processes aren’t fantastic.”