While the dairy industry continues to face challenges, Col and Violet Kahler’s deep love for the work and lifestyle on their dairy farm ensures they hold fast.

 Story + Photos Paula Heelan

Fourth-generation dairy farmer Colin Kahler and his border collie Sandi are poking along on a four-wheeler buggy behind a mob of Friesian cows heading to the milking shed. It’s 2°C and, with the district cloaked in heavy fog, it’s hard to see them as they make their way up the winding dirt road. Here at Hartley-Vale dairy, at Geham on Queensland’s Darling Downs, this twice-daily milking routine has been rolling out every day for more than 150 years.

The chilly morning isn’t a worry for the quiet-natured, good-humoured Col. “It’s an automatic ritual,” he says. “We’re up by 5 for some coffee and toast and then walk over to start the milking by 6.”  While Col brings in the herd, his wife, Violet, sets up at the shed. She fills the grain bins and readies the suction cups, puts the hose filter in the vat and rinses the buckets for the calves’ milk. The process of setting up, milking, feeding calves and cleaning up takes about three hours every morning and every afternoon, seven days a week.

This story excerpt is from Issue #133

Outback Magazine: Oct/Nov 2020