It was with great sadness that my brother, Dan and I watched the old milking shed or “The Bails” as it was called, be knocked down to make room for the new Processing facility. However as Dan aptly said, it was better to pull it down now, rather than wait for the next cyclone and have to pick it up from the paddocks.
The Bails and perhaps the pig sty’s were the only real farm infrastructure that was on the property when Mum and Dad bought the farm in 1964. The farm, like most neighbouring blocks was run down, with poor pastures, few fences and some scraggly cows. Back in those days most of the milk was separated into cream and skim milk. The cream went to the Malanda Butter factory in cream cans and the skim milk was fed to pigs. I think they made more money fattening pigs than selling cream!
I have some fond and not so fond memories of milking in the old Bails. In the early days it had no concrete yards or lanes. During the wet season the approaches and exit to the shed was a sea of mud. I still remember Mum coming to rescue me when my gum boots got stuck in the mud. It was probably the reason we spent so much time in bare feet! I also remember getting the cows in for milking on a frosty morning in bare feet. I would run from one warm cow pat to another to keep my feet toasty warm. Luxuries like this are not common to kids today growing up in towns.
As time went on and pastures were improved, more cows were milked and the Bails was upgraded. The milking machines changed from tinned brass to stainless steel and more milking cups were installed to speed up milking. A concrete yard was also constructed. It improved both the milking experience and also minimised the sinking of small children and the loss of gum boots.
However by the 70’s the Bails was now too small for the milking herd. A new state of the art Herring Bone Dairy was built down the road which sped up the milking process considerably.
From then on the Bails went into a gradual decline, languishing as a storage shed and then an area to rear calves. The continuous Millaa Millaa wet weather and white ants slowly destroyed the wooden structure whilst the rusting roof initially gave it character, and then as holes appeared, sped up the deterioration. Each cyclone we had blew a bit more away until Fabian and his 60 ton excavator pulled it down in a matter of minutes.
Like all things in life we have a choice to be either sad about the end of an era or perhaps see it as a new start.
The old Bails is gone but a new processing facility is being built in its place. Like the bails in the 1950’s it is state of the art but a few lessons have been learnt. The new shed has tilt panels and concrete walls that will make it fire and cyclone proof, resistant to the wet weather, and should blunt most white ants’ teeth.
This new shed will usher Mungalli Creek dairy into the future. it will allow us to process more milk and make a wide range of new products, that may include a wider range of fermented foods, cheeses, butter, creams and ice cream.
Perhaps we should name the new processing shed “the New Bails” in remembrance of the pioneer that went ahead of it.