My idea of a good morning is sleeping in and waking up slowly to warm sunshine streaming through my windows, not getting up at 5.30am to milk a mob of 200 cows.
In fact, my body is so useless at getting up early that it didn’t even hear my alarm the first time it went off.
Once I finally dragged myself out of bed, threw on some thermals, woolly socks and my townie gumboots I made my way down to the Raine Farm behind Saxton Field.
The Raine Farm is the definition of a family farm, with eight generations of Saxtons and Raines farming the land for the last 173 years.
They’ve even turned back the clock, distributing their fresh Oaklands Farm milk in old-fashioned glass bottles which are available through delivery or at the six chilled vending machines placed around the region.
Their newest venture, a new premium milk brand called Aunt Jean’s Dairy, was launched in November.
While I had never milked a cow before, this wasn’t my first brush with dairy farming.
Some of my best childhood memories include jumping across silage, herding bulls, and having grass, mud, and cow patties flick up in my face as we got towed behind a quad bike before being rinsed off by the powerful industrial hose in the milking shed at my best friend’s dairy farm. Needless to say, I was relishing the chance to get back on a farm, give it a go, and actually learn about the process behind it all.
As soon as I arrived, farm worker Amy Palmer put me to work, kitting me up with an apron and some gloves before showing me the ropes which included a quick lesson on how to spot cows which are about to kick or produce a lovely waterfall of manure right above your head.
Thankfully I didn’t bathe underneath any of the waterfalls but, boy, do those animals like to plop out a patty or two!
My first go at attaching the suction cups to Gertrude’s teats (yup, I named a cow Gertrude) went surprisingly well, Gertrude was a lovely placid girl and the cups went straight on like I was born to be a dairy farmer.
However, my next few were decidedly less placid and slightly spooked by the strange newcomer who was all of a sudden in the milking shed.
In the video on nelsonlive.co.nz you’ll see exactly what I mean, they were stomping, shuffling and squaring me up to land a decent kick.
After some more milking, it was time to round up more of the mob and coax them into the rotary milking shed.
Amy’s instructions were to walk behind them and usher them in with a few “c’mons”. She did it easy enough, but when it was my turn I was just a crazy lady talking to some disobedient cows.
They were so wary of little old unfamiliar me that it took me three goes before a single cow meandered in the direction I wanted it to go.
And as my luck would have it, Julian Raine, the owner of Raine Farms, chose that moment to turn up. After having a wee silent chuckle at my cow whispering efforts, Julian took me off duty for a quick lesson in how Aunt Jean’s Dairy and the Oaklands Farm milk is pasteurised and packaged.
Overall, milking cows was probably one of the most fun Give it a Go Girls I’ve done. I learnt heaps, including the fact that watching a townie trying to get cows to cooperate will put a smile on just about anyone’s dial.