100 years ago: The art of maximising milk production

Farm accident: Dr John McKee drove a teenage Len Spindler to the Bega Hospital in his A Model Ford after the youngster broke his leg.

Farm accident: Dr John McKee drove a teenage Len Spindler to the Bega Hospital in his A Model Ford after the youngster broke his leg.

Bega Pioneers' Museum has countless files on people and places. This one was written by Len Spindler about his life in the Valley in the early 1900s.

When you’re on shares it’s to your benefit to get as much milk production as possible, so your milkers must never be rushed home to the bails by dog or stockman, as a cow, excited, will only let down half her milk and if this keeps up she will dry herself off before her time.

A cow will graze until she is warm, especially in winter, before she starts to produce milk and if her udder is full from the last milking she will not add much more to it.

So you don’t hustle your milkers and it’s important to milk out your cows properly. If not, your milk production drops and it’s also bad for the cow’s health.

Dot had about eight or 10 vinegar bottles and she would feed all the young calves with the bottles of milk, but she couldn’t be bothered to hand suck a calf till it learned to drink.

That was, of course, the calves I didn’t kill for their skins. To get a new pair of hob-nailed boots was bloody Christmas!

John Darcy owned an old racehorse, a stallion called “Conform”, and he told Ron Richards and myself to take him up to the river and shoot him. We got 10/- for the skin, 5/- each.

It was while we were on Darcy’s that I broke my leg chasing a steer, on my stock horse, “Grey Boy”. Elmo Miller, the slaughterman, carried me on his back half a mile home. He was a good friend and often gave us off-cuts of meat.

I was taken to the Bega Hospital in Dr McKee’s single seater A Model Ford.

About 12 months later, again racing after a steer, “Grey Boy” fell and broke his leg, 50 yards from where I had broken mine. Dad said, “he’s your horse, you broke his leg so you shoot him.” I did and I cried all night.

When I turned 14 I left school. The teacher couldn’t get rid of me fast enough. Dad gave me two six-month-old red steers and made yokes for them. I trained them to pull a slide with a cask of water, from the river, as we had only two tanks for the house and dairy.

It wasn’t all work as we found time for house parties with the Richards on No.1 dairy, which was about a quarter of a mile from us.