Dairy Down Under: Working with Wildlife

Hoard's Dairyman: 

Dairy Down Under: Working with Wildlife

Date: 
Tue, 08/02/2011

More adventures from the student working on a Tasmanian dairy. Here in Tasmania, I have been blessed with one-on-one contact with some of Australia’s native wildlife. I was introduced to the wallaby as it leapt in front of my car. That poor wallaby never saw what was coming. This was my first incident killing a critter with a car and it just had to happen in another country.

At the dairy, we have this little ugly critter called the possum. The possum has a face like a bat, crawls like a monkey, and screams like a devil. One night after a late-night milking, I heard this ghost-like scream. I stopped washing down the parlor and asked in a nervous voice, “What on earth is that?” Both Ryan and Jai (two co workers and native Tasmanians) didn’t even look up as they said, in unison, “Possum.”

This animal does not just have a face that only a mother could love, they also have a naughty side. One early milking, Jai and I were working, and things were going smoothly until the vacuum stopped. So, when the cows made it to “cups-off,” they were not milked out. We stopped milking and crawled around the parlor looking for a leak. Finally, we noticed that the switch was turned off! Our boss said it must have been a possum that turned off the switch. We all had a good laugh.

Later that day during evening milking, it happened again! We quickly turned it back on and properly milked out the cows. We once again laughed about that possum “sabotaging” our milking times. A few minutes later, we noticed the lights were off. We look up to the corner with no light and saw that possum hanging from the cord like Tarzan. A possum unplugged the lights! I burst out laughing as Jai climbed up to scare the possum and replug the lights in for the dairy.

“I hate possums!” Jai said, as I continued to laugh until my sides hurt. “The joys of working in the bush,” I managed to say between laughing bursts.

We named this possum “Pete” and when anything goes wrong at the dairy, we blame it on that silly possum!

It is true. On the farm, farmers have the true blessing of being close to Mother Nature. That includes beautiful birds in nearby lakes, fresh air, native trees that add beauty, and for me, a naughty possum that likes to cause mischief.

Hoo Roo!
Anna Gibson

Join us next Monday at noon (CST) for our “Responsible Antibiotic Use” webinar at noon. Geof Smith of North Carolina State University is the presenter. To sign-up for the free webinar, visit www.hoards.com/webinars.