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Veteran reflects on a choice life

GENTLEMANLY EXAMPLE: Retired dairy farmer Jim Judd said when it comes to building a successful family business it’s best to lead by example and treat people as you would like to be treated.
GENTLEMANLY EXAMPLE: Retired dairy farmer Jim Judd said when it comes to building a successful family business it’s best to lead by example and treat people as you would like to be treated. Toni Somes

JIMMY Judd is upfront in a good-natured way when asked about life after dairy farming: "I squander time now".

When you are self-described "1936 model" and have milked since you were a six-year-old schoolboy, it's fair to assume you've earned some down time.

The cheerful local identity was born in Kempsey and shifted north to a dairy farm "six miles from the beach" at Tweed Heads with his family when he was a youngster.

"I never had much time for the beach. I didn't like sand in my shorts," he laughed.

I like that fact that there was something different every day. And you were your own boss. Of course, I tried to be everyone else's boss too, but that never really caught on.

Back then the Judds' 100ha coastal property supported a family of seven children, all of whom were encouraged to lend a hand milking between 40 and 50 Friesian cows.

"I had four sisters older then me, and I was the first of three boys," Mr Judd said.

"I started milking when I was about six. I had to do my couple of cows before heading off to school in the morning.

"It was all by hand then."

Later he took over the family farm and married his sweetheart Olwyn.

When quizzed about how he met his young bride, he laughed.

"If I say I can't remember I could be in trouble.

"She went to Piggabeen State School, which was on our place, so it could have been there, or at a dance at Piggabeen Hall, which was also on our farm.

"She was a few years younger than me and a good sort.

"Her people had small crops and she'd grown up on the Tweed."

The couple had three children Wesley, Leah and Stuart.

"Dairying was an all right way to make a living. It's never been an easy thing.

"But things were different then. We didn't have as much in the way of expenses."

Yet their dairy farm on the coast was rapidly being "built out by developers" and they reached a point "where you couldn't walk the cows in the streets", so life for the Judd family changed.

"When I was growing up they used to load the cattle for Cannon Hill at yards right next to Tweed Heads school, but it all started to change," Mr Judd said.

"By the time Wes was finishing school and both boys wanted to go into farming, there was nothing for them on the coast. So we had to make some changes."

They started looking for country over the range and settled on 200ha of prime farm land at Swanfels.

"A few years later we bought another 140ha at Emu Vale and for awhile we milked three herds," Mr Judd said.

"I only ever milked 50 head at Swanfels but we milked 130 at Emu Vale, where we had two vats at the dairy."

They were long days, and twice daily milking made it a 24/7 commitment - but it was a lifestyle Mr Judd loved.

"I wouldn't have done anything else," he laughed. "I loved dairying. I like that fact that there was something different every day.

"And you were your own boss. Of course, I tried to be everyone else's boss too, but that never really caught on."

When asked about the secret to building a successful family farming enterprise he laughs and suggests: "hard work".

Both his sons have both been successful in agriculture and now one of his grandsons is joining the family enterprise.

"I don't think there are any secrets about making it work.

"You just have to make sure in life you do what you love. That's very important.

"And I believe you should always treat people like you would like to be treated."

However, his hands-on involvement in the dairy farming side of the family enterprise came to a halt almost a decade ago when Olwyn was diagnosed with a brain tumour.

"We sold up at Emu Vale and shifted to a block at Willowvale because I had to be with Olwyn all the time so we couldn't keep milking.

"But then Olwyn had the tumour removed and, after a long recovery, she is doing fine and able to be by herself for times. She might have lost some of her speech and her balance but she's just very pleased to still be here. And I am very pleased she is still here."

Today the couple run beef cattle on their small property turning off milk vealers and generally "squandering their time. I spend my time making things from timber - beautiful timbers like rosewood," Mr Judd explained.

"I have always loved timber. I had collected so much over the years that when we moved here, I was able to supply all the timber for our house, except the roof trusses. We also have a beautiful rosewood kitchen."

The couple also try to regularly put time aside to spend with their own children, along with six grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

A proud Mr Judd describes them as "all turning out okay. Well put it this way none of them have run off the rails yet," he laughed.

"I think as a parent you try to influence things a little bit.

"I think leading by example has a far greater effect than you realise."

Topics:  dairy milk price wars people profile


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