After 35 years and running three dairies as one, Invergordon dairy farmer Pam Malcolm has decided to hang up the milking apron as she looks ahead to retirement.
The Paringa Holstein stud, which her father founded in 1943, has a lot of history but it will all come to an end on September 18, when 150 cows from the herd are put up for sale.
‘‘I’m not as excited as it gets closer. Retirement scares me a little,’’ Mrs Malcolm said.
Mrs Malcolm, who has milked between 200 and 230 cows, has enjoyed being around cattle ever since her father allowed her to milk at the age of three.
‘‘I will never forget Dad putting me under a big black and white cow when I was only three. He had her leg roped and I sat on the stool with a plastic beach bucket.’’
She said her interest in cows had been evident early, and had been encouraged by her father.
‘‘They thought I had meningitis (when I was younger). When I got out of hospital, he took me to see a calf and I lit up,’’ she said.
Mrs Malcolm, who is originally from Gippsland, said when she first took over the stud she was looking for a change.
‘‘I just wanted a fresh start and being a dairy farmer I was pretty ambitious and loved success.
‘‘I love getting the best out of them in show, breeding and production,’’ she said.
While some of us would not enjoy the early starts that come with the job, Mrs Malcolm was not fazed.
‘‘Early mornings never worried me. I’d get up at 3am when milking.
‘‘I’ve enjoyed milking cows and seeing the cows come in loaded with milk.
‘‘Mum would change my alarm as she didn’t like me getting up so early when we were going to shows.
‘‘I’m more a morning person. I’m not much to anyone at night,’’ she said.
Over the years Mrs Malcolm and her stud won many awards, including taking one cow — Paringa Fever Opa — to International Dairy Week in 2016, where she won best udder in the Holstein section, the IDW Grand Champion Holstein and was the intermediate champion in the interbreed class. The cow also set a record as the first intermediate to win grand champion title in the Holstein exhibit.
In 1985, Wiabuna Kriss Shona was sold for $36000 in what was at the time an Australasian record for a dairy or beef cow, while in 1987 at the peak of Holstein numbers at the Melbourne Royal Show, Wiabuna Kriss Butter took out Champion Cow.
But despite these achievements, Mrs Malcolm’s fondest memory will be the stud recently receiving dual Master Breeder status.
‘‘That means a lot. It’s a real personal thing to breed so many and to achieve so much,’’ she said.
Mrs Malcolm put the success of the stud down to her father being ahead of the game.
‘‘I pay the greatest tribute to Dad on his judgement to pick great cows in the rough. I believe he was a man so far ahead of his time. He never had irrigation but looked after his cows so well,’’ she said.
With this all in mind, Mrs Malcolm said the decision to leave was difficult.
‘‘I never wanted to retire. We had the wet winter last year and I was crook and I couldn’t shake it.
‘‘I’d missed milking once in 35 years. I called the real estate (agent) before coming inside and without telling Jamie (Mrs Malcolm’s husband) and the real estate agent couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
‘‘I was expecting gradual retirement, milking less cows — but one bloke wanted to buy everything,’’ she said.
With the sale not far away, Mrs Malcolm hopes the Paringa history will be carried on while she settles into a new property in Stewarton.
■Paringa Holsteins’ Paringa’s History 1st Stage Dispersal Sale will be held on Monday, September 18 from 11am at Mrs Malcolm’s farm at 63 Jutland Rd, Invergordon.