Life on a Dairy Farm

This post is part of our Will Work 4 Travel adventure where this month we lived with a wonderful New Zealand couple on a working DAIRY FARM!

It’s all about being about to duck out of the way quickly when something unpleasant starts coming your way! – Cheryl and Lisa


We left the little town of Edendale in New Zealand with a new found respect for those who make their living on a dairy farm!

Days start early here. By 5am everyone is up chasing after the seemingly never-ending batch of chores to be done with all sorts of equipment including tractors and rippers. Evenings are long as well. Cows have to be milked twice a day, so it was often after 9pm before everyone was gathered from the barns for dinner – or tea as its called here in this part of the world.

But it’s not just milking the cows. Feeding the new calves fresh milk twice daily is a bit like trying to herd a bunch of playful (and very heavy) kindergarteners. Each one is jostling for a place at the feeder and if you’re not careful your fingers will be sucked by eager, slobbery mouths. It’s hard to be angry when those cuddly calves with their beautiful long eyelashes close in.

Since its the milk that makes the money, there is constant testing to be done. Every cow  has a milk sample taken and submitted to the inspectors. If a cow or young calf becomes ill, it must be isolated and taken care of separately. Cows must be inseminated and young calves must have their horns removed before they grow in and cause damage to other cows. It seems as though the day barely ends before there is a brand new set of tasks to be done. Equipment needs maintenance so they have a tractor service company come out and help them out.

Even with our host’s busy schedules, Debbie and Graham made sure our stay on the dairy farm was a delight. Never too busy to teach us what they were doing and share their knowledge of cows and the farm, they allowed us to get up close to the real work being done. It felt as though we barely saw Graham he was working so hard, but the time we did spend together he had us laughing and was never too tired to share the experiences of his day. Debbie, working her regular job in addition to all of the hours on the farm, even found the time to take us on a farm tour on her day off. And her introduction to Pavlova Pudding was certainly amazing!


We appreciate the wonderful hospitality shown by our hosts and feel we’ve gained so much from this experience. Their listing on the Work Exchange Program HelpX was how we found them and the adorable picture of Betty Boop sealed the deal. While there we picked up a bit of knowledge of how the dairy business works, how to raise dairy cows, how to juggle a million different things and still have a smile by the end of the day – and most importantly, two new friends from New Zealand in Debbie and Graham!

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