This is part of a Cornersmith x Australian Farmers series showcasing Aussie grown foods. It’s a bit like a fork with three prongs. This is the part where you get to meet the farmer whose cows produce milk to make cheese. The next prong is learning how to store your cheese and use the “odd knobs”, and the third is recipe inspiration. We hope you enjoy the ride!
Rachel Nicholson’s dairy farm is located on Jones Island, on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales. While the family bought the farm just seven years ago, they leased dairy farms before then for close to 30 years. Rachel’s family produces about 1.6 million litres of milk each year!
How many cows do you milk? We milk from 200-250 cows/heifers year round.
What’s your role? My role changes depending on my family as we have two, almost three, young children. I love it when I can bring the cows into the dairy, milk them and feed the calves. My husband Sam manages the dairy, staff and pastures. He is an incredibly passionate dairy farmer and I love doing what I can to support him.
Has anything changed on your farm in your time? Yes we have made lots of changes to help our farm to be more sustainable in the future in terms of environmental impact and resiliency to natural disasters. Things that we have implemented include a raised feed pad/flood mound, hydro-cooling systems for the milk, solar energy, fencing off water ways and much more.
What’s the best thing about what you do? Being with our cows and calves daily and providing them with the best care.
What’s important to you when producing milk? Sustainability practices, having a good team around us, producing nutritious food, best care for our animals and creating a future for our family.
Can you outline what goes into producing milk while it’s on farm? We spend time every day planning out and growing our crops from seed. This is where is all begins. When the grass is at optimal time for eating, we let the cows graze sections of the paddock at a time to ensure they have enough, whilst preventing over grazing of the land.
The cows spend their day munching on grass, as well as other yummy foods like grain, silage, cotton seed, almond hulls and even lollies! They also spend a lot of time drinking water. When the cows are full, they rest on the ground chewing their cud. At milking time, the girls come over to the dairy where the milk is pumped through the milk machines and into the vat where it is cooled, stored and awaits the daily testing and collection from the tanker. From the tanker, it is then taken to a processing facility where it is pasteurised, bottled and sent on the sit on the shelf awaiting your purchase.
What is your favourite dairy product and the best way to enjoy it? Ice cream. We love to experiment with making different flavours in our home.
How can we support Australian farmers like you with the products we buy? Continue to buy good quality, Australian grown and made produce that is from a farm close to you.
Feeling inspired and enlightened?! Find out how to store your cheese and use up all the odd knobs and try our special mac n cheese recipe straight from the Cornersmith kitchen. You can also check out our tips and tricks for saving money and doing your bit to reduce food waste with the other foods in this series: Bread, carrots, lamb, oranges and greens.