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David and Emma Nankervis

David and Emma Nankervis

Wattle Grove, Wooragee (near Beechworth), Victoria

David and Emma Nankervis

David and Emma Nankervis run the family dairy farm Wattle Grove with David's parents Barry and Pam. The farm has been in the family for over five generations and was initially bought in 1918. Milking 160 Jersey cows, the farm is one of the smallest commercial dairy farms in the area. The Nankervis's are renowned for being 'stubborn buggers' − David's grandfather died just last year at the wonderful age of 103, a testament to the longevity of this family farm and its partnerships.

David explained in depth his understanding of family farming partnerships and the importance of constructive conflict between the partners for the business to prosper.

One of their principle survival techniques as a farm business is to be very efficient and do all of their own work. David and Barry do any building that is often needed with a farm of this size. They maintain all of their machinery and are highly skilled in mechanical work. They maintain all of the complexities within their milking parlour, carry out routine veterinary work and artificially inseminate all of their cows.

Both David and Barry share the milking which lasts for about ten months of the year, allowing each other to holiday away from the farm. Emma, David's wife, a qualified nurse, works as a waitress in Beechworth at nights. The hours of nursing do not fit in with the farm working hours and by working at nights David can then look after their three children, Riley, Darcy and William.

Emma and David Nankervis

Audio and transcript

audio_w15 Listen to David and Emma's story (MP3 file 673kb)
Duration: 1 minute, 25 seconds

David: This property we've had for five generations, it was bought in 1918. So this actual property, we've been here for a fair while.

We dairy farm 160 cattle on this property and the rest is all beef cattle, but as far as dairy farming goes now, well 160 cows, we're one of the smallest left. It's an industry where people are being asked to milk more cows, and [have] more production everyday. So in a guess that squeeze continually squeezes a lot of dairy farmers out of the game. So it is hard.

Emma: It's hard, like I find it hard to fit in anything with the farm because of the hours David does and with the kids, that's really hard to fit the kids in with work and the farm. Yeah, but I mean in a sense now, they've gotten a bit older, it's a lot easier because they will go with David to milk the cows and things like that, so...

David: Some machinery work.

Emma: Yeah, you know they can be poking around in some things that we do.

David: The biggest thing is that they don't get hurt you know. We're very aware that there is still one Australian kid killed on a farm every week. So between the two of us we try and be very careful if we've got machinery and trucks and all this sort of stuff happening, keep an eye on the little kids, because they're four and they're two and they do like to get up and amongst it. So between me and Emma we're very aware of it.

Gallery slideshow

Below you can view a slideshow of the Nankervis family and their property.