GROWING up next door to her grandparents’ dairy farm in East Gippsland, the last thing Caitlyn Frecklington wanted to do when she grew up was milk cows.
Now in her early 20s, she’s training to become a dairy farm manager.
After finishing high school, Caitlyn moved to West Gippsland, where her partner Jake was working for a stock feed company.
When Caitlyn didn’t have her head in the books studying for university, she’d be relief milking.
Her friends were having wild Saturday nights in the city, while she was in bed by 9pm.
“I enjoyed the challenge that dairy farming brought every day, working with animals – this had always been a passion of mine – forever learning and developing my knowledge,” she said.
“I couldn’t imagine doing something different now.”
In her early 20s, she’s further than most people her age. Her husband Jake works full-time off the farm and together they are raising twin daughters Evelyn and Matilda.
“I have been lucky enough to ease my way into the business by not taking on too much responsibility at the start,” she said.
“It gives me an opportunity to learn the farm slowly and surely but also maintain my coherence as a parent to our girls.”
After being ‘Mum’ for more than a year, she says it’s nice to feel like she has a place in the world to be ‘Caitlyn’ again.
“Most new mothers could relate to this feeling I’m sure,” she said.
You’ll often find the twins with pink and purple gumboots on, keen to help out on the farm.
Although Caitlyn admits it gets to about 5pm every night and the girls are ready for their baths.
“But to be able to take the girls with me to work and have them by my side is very inspiring to know they’re being brought up in a safe and supportive environment with a strong work ethic – and loads of animals to dote over.”
It’s been a tough time in the dairy caper of late, but she’s found a way to get ahead.
“We have managed this a little by raising heifer calves from local farmers that had over-stock,” she said.
They raised some calves on milk powder in a spare shed on a friend’s property and others on Jake’s father’s farm in north Victoria.
“This resulted in us having a ‘starting herd’ of around 30 animals – some were being milked by other farmers ready for when we had a farm to take on.
“This was a good start as it was minimal risk, minimal financial outlay but a lot of work.”
Over three years, the young family has grown out about 50 heifer calves.
Caitlyn loves every day on the farm and it’s easy to see how the family can be seen as an inspiration to other young couples or families.
Her advice to young couples keen on starting a farm is to get out there and start networking.
“Meet as many people and gather as much information as you can.
“Be a ‘yes’ person and don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. And the obvious, be willing to work smart and work hard.”
You can follow Caitlyn and Jake’s journey on Instagram at www.instagram.com/c_a_i_t_l_y_n_x_x/
Loving life on the farm