Milking has finished for the day on the picturesque Macleay River and Marie Farley is hosing out the dairy.
It’s nothing new for Mrs Farley who at the age of 88 is still working on her dairy farm at Kempsey on the Mid North Coast despite pressure from her family to slow down.
“You will never find mum inside until after dark, she’s always outside doing something whether it’s on the tractor or mowing the lawn, she never stops,” Marie’s daughter Louise Farley says.
“She has always been the same her whole life.
“Mum had nine babies while still maintaining work as well as the house and still does the same today.
“We keep telling her to slow down, so now she hides the work from us so we don’t go crook on her.
I've always loved dairying, don't know why, it's a good life, isn't it? It’s hard work but everyone has to work hard don’t they and if you love it, why not keep going and what else would I do.
“She’s an inspiration and gave us a great life. Looking back to when we were kids and we would go over to the dairy early in the morning and get a cup of warm milk straight out of cows, how many people can say they’ve done that?”
When the work is done it's time for a “cup of tea”. It’s just a couple of steps to Mrs Farley’s front gate.
Sitting in her lounge room, which is surrounded by photos of her family including nine children (five boys and four girls), 25 grandchildren and 20 great grandchildren, Mrs Farley reflects on her life in the dairy industry.
“I’ve been milking since I was five-years-old,” Mrs Farley said.
“I’ve always loved dairying, I don’t know why, it’s a good life isn’t it?
“It’s hard work but everyone has to work hard don’t they and if you love it, why not keep going and what else would I do.”
Born in 1929, Mrs Farley grew up with her 12 siblings at Moparrabah, west of Kempsey, before moving to Dungay Creek at the age of 10.
"We used to ride our horses six miles to school and back,” she said.
“Life was good back then, we didn’t know anything different.”
In 1952 she married Jack Farley and moved to Polar Creek on the Macleay River. She was 21.
But prior to getting married, she will never forgot the devastating flood of 1949 when she helped Jack’s family milk.
“We are used to floods here, it’s part and parcel of living on floodplains,” she said.
“You always worry about cattle washing down the river.
“I’ve gone through so many floods over the years but the one in 1949 I won’t forget because it came up so fast.”
Mrs Farley said the water was moving so fast that she was trapped at the house until help arrived. When it did they waded through water waist deep to a nearby hill on the property.
“Everyone brought their cattle there,” she said.
“We milked 60 cows by hand in a makeshift dairy on the hill, which took all day then we had to tip the milk out because we couldn’t get trucks in to transport it.
“We had to keep a record of the milk so we could be refunded the money for it.”
Back then they milked cows by hand and would have to separate the cream from the milk to send to the butter factory.
“Milking by hand is a long haul and that was our old dairy,” Mrs Farley said pointing to the dairy that could be seen from her window.
But then she said mechanical operations were introduced, making life easier.
Back then she said it would take 10 minutes to milk each cow, now it takes less than two minutes.
Over the years she said they had supplied milk to Nestle at Smithtown for it to be turned into powdered milk.
They then supplied United Dairy and Dairy Farmers and now they send their milk to Norco, the country’s oldest dairy co-operative still in Australian hands.
Mrs Farley and her husband worked together for 60 years before he passed away in 2009.
“We had a good life bringing up our children here, who all keep coming back,” she said.
Today she runs the property with son Paul where they milk 130 head with grandson and well known rodeo star Pete helping from time to time. The farm produces around 2500 litres of milk daily.
While her days of milking are over, she heads over to the dairy most afternoons to hose it out or put water through the machines.
“I help out whenever they need me, I love it,” she said.