Updated: Oct 7, 2019
It’s hard to believe we are just off the state highway, only 10 minutes from Oamaru. Instant country, just add cows. It’s a nursey rhyme kind of day with a big yellow sun like a kids drawing. Front of House dog Brutus greets us at the farm gate. He was supposed to be fierce but no one ever told him. Bethan Moore is fierce, little but stubborn - moving 32 tonnes of compost herself in a wheelbarrow recently – and she’s had to be, starting up The Natural Dairy has been far from idyllic, which is why it’s great to hear that business is now booming. In just 2 short months The Natural Dairy has built up sales to Queenstown, Wanaka, Kurow (and soon Twizel), Oamaru, here at the farm gate, and organic shops.
Over the stile, up the hill and say hi to Giselle, named after the ballet and sturdier than the moniker would suggest: the Natural Dairy is her forever home. “I would never send a friend to the works,” says Bethan.
Formerly a berry farm, and then a plant nursery, the natives were thick and in need of some chopping when Bethan and family first took over the property. Paths cleared, the hawthorn tamed, there are 11 milkers at the moment. There’s Kikki (cos she does), Pies (she ate them all), a Bossy and two Flossies. The brown ones with the long eyelashes are Ayrshires, the black and whites are Friesians. “I’m about to go cow shopping,” says Bethan, having reached peak production at 160 litres a day. “I’ve got no milk left.” No mass production aspirations here, though, Bethan would never go over 20 cows.
A smaller dairy is much nicer for the cows. They only have to walk 400m to the shed and get to stay with their babies. Milked once a day, this lot have relaxed since they got here in late April, are ‘chilled out’ now ‒ just in time to add strawberry, banana and chocolate milkshakes to their repertoire.
“Mind the giant poo,” says Bethan. “That is actually bullshit.” There’s been quite a bit of that. The natural diary got off to a terrible start; Bethan’s first lot of cows were affected by M Bovis and had to be culled. It was a nightmare, she says, horrific. “We were all ready to go and then we had a period of no animals on the property, I can still hardly talk about it, it’s been a huge struggle.”
After a fresh start, the rapidly rising number of customers are hard work’s reward. Not to mention, “Our milk tastes totally different to supermarket milk.” And it can be drunk by many people who can’t tolerate processed milk. Turns out free range cows make moo juice that doesn’t hurt your tummy.
When it comes to dairy, Bethan’s got the white stuff.
It costs $2 to buy a reusable 1.1 litre bottle, $3.80 filled
The farm shop is open every day from 7.30am to 6.30 PM.
Contact info: email@example.com
027 453 3384
By Lisa Scott