Finding a time to meet with Neil and Jade Geritz, one of the nine farmers who supply Maleny Dairies with raw milk and who featured in our TV ad, was an achievement in itself. With the Geritz power couple often working 14 hour days, a quick cup of coffee overlooking Maleny Dairies’ fields was a rare chance to reflect on their growing business and family.
A Farming Family’s Routine
While Neil’s parents were dairy farmers, Jade is a self-confessed ‘city girl’ who is proud that their three daughters can enjoy the outdoor lifestyle of a farming family. Neil on the other hand, attended Maleny State School and often helped the Hopper’s out at the farm. The Hopper’s were then able to lend a hand to the Geritz family by taking them on as suppliers when Neil decided to swap bricklaying for dairy farming around 8 years ago.
Neil’s day begins at around 4:30am, like all dairy farmers, when he gets up to milk the cows. The day continues with feeding calves, cleaning, checking, fixing, spraying and back for the second round of milking at 2:30pm. Neil is usually home at 6:30pm for dinner and has some time with their growing brood before hitting the gym.
Staying Sane in the Dairy Game
Neil is not just a dairy farmer, he is also a competitive bodybuilder who takes up to 12 months to prep for one of his competitions.
“Every night when he gets home from work, regardless of if he gets home at 9pm at night, he will go to the gym. It’s the only time we get away from the farm and to ourselves.”
Jade’s day begins with the school run and then the drive into Brisbane which Jade makes 6 days a week. With the ever-increasing price of grain, the Geritz’s decided to substitute one feed a day with bread left over from big supermarkets and now have farmer’s agreements with 8 supermarkets in Brisbane. According to Jade;
“Neil is a thinker and a ‘Googler’ and we don’t rush into anything.”
After dealing with the housework, meal prep for the following day, dinner for the kids and the bedtime routine, Jade hits the gym as well. When asked if she ever runs out of energy Jade replied;
“As a mother, you know you just have to do it, it’s not a choice.”
Sugar-Coated Free Dairy
With Neil’s parents living 3 hours away and Jade’s father working overseas, the couple had to rely on themselves and some great friends to get the business to where it is today.
Jade admits that she thinks a lot of people underestimate dairy farming;
“It is a 24/7, 365 day a year job. You have to leave the house on Christmas Day to go milk the cows.”
The Geritz family refuse to sugar-coat the reality of dairy farming and admit that while it is satisfying to work hard and see the slow progress, they would encourage their children to explore different paths unless it was something they truly loved. Jade says to be a successful dairy farmer you do have to have a little bit of heart in it.
The Next Generation of Dairy Farmers
Out of their three daughters, Jade believes Harper, 4, looks the most likely to continue the family business as she has such a love of animals. All three daughters earn their pocket money with their dad on Saturday mornings when they visit the farm and enjoy feeding the calves and riding with their dad on the motorbike.
Neil and Jade have both watched friends and family forced out of business by large processing companies. Neil’s own father would still be dairying but, according to Neil, they got to a point where they were going backward.
Neil and Jade’s outlook is now more positive and they are glad to be with Maleny Dairies. Jade is enjoying the good relationship and open communication and knows Maleny Dairies look after their farmers.
“We are happy with how the future looks for us and for our kids.”