My father hated working for other people. He always wanted to be his own man. So some time in 1962, when I was about two years old, he took me and my mother to live on a dairy farm at Mount Compass.
Sure, as I mentioned last time, in 1961 we lived on a farm near Kersbrook. But dad was just a labourer there, living in a worker’s cottage. His dream was to create a home for his wife and family. So to Mount Compass it was, and a 120-acre dairy farm on Lanacoona Road, Pages Flat, where we lived until 1971.
The boundary of the farm is still the same today. It’s even marked in Google Maps so, as usual, there’s a map over the jump.
The photo above was taken some time around 1962 or 1963. That’s Fern, one of the cows. I’ve marked the spot on the map where this photo was taken from.
Yes, the farm was so small that each cow was known by name. There were 25 to 30 cows “in milk” at any one time, plus perhaps four to six heifers, half a dozen calves and a bull. Plus two dogs and four cats.
Every cow gets pregnant every year — that’s how come they’re always lactating. But why aren’t there as many calves as cows? Well, some of the the female calves are kept, to grow into milking cows. Others are sold to other farmers. But you really only need one or two bulls to keep all the cows pregnant — yeah, dairy bulls have a pretty good life. So the other male calves are what we call “veal”.
The farmhouse is barely visible between the trees immediate above the cow’s head. I’ll post some more photos of that soon. Then from right to left we’ve got: a small shed where we kept the car; a high-roofed sideless shed where we kept the tractor and stored hay; the milking shed immediately above the cow’s tail; and finally a small run-down structure which was “dad’s shed”, full of tools and scraps of wood and a workbench where he was always at work on something that was probably never going to be finished.
I must say, I’m a little overwhelmed looking at the map and the photos and trying to decide what to write about.
Maybe I should tell you how my parents were ripped off by a con artist. What it was like growing up on that farm. The hard work by everyone. The fun of working with the dogs. The sense of open space and the freedom to have my own imaginary world. The fear of snakes. The dangerous stunts… ah so much!
But I’ve got a few years to cover in a few posts, so no hurry yet. Just seeing the farm again is enough for now.
View Stilgherrian’s Life in a larger map
The map shows a golf course. I’m pretty damn sure that wasn’t there in my day!