27 year old Maxine Moore is proving herself to be a Legendairy farmer in an industry traditionally seen as the domain of older men.
Maxine is leading a seven-member all-girl crew at a 250-hectare, 170-cow farm that she manages for owner Ross Lehmann near Kalbar in south-east Queensland.
Some outsiders look on with a bit of curiosity and even surprise at Maxine’s senior role, but she has no qualms about her place in dairy.
“Being 27 and being female you do get a few odd looks when people discover you’re the manager,” she said. “A lot of our reps are men in their 40s. They ask where the manager is and look a bit shocked when they realise it’s me.”
“Sometimes they might go to Ross and he’ll send them back to me. It’s very rewarding that Ross gives us (the crew) that support and has confidence in the job we do.”
The crew ranges from a school-based apprentice to an octogenarian and, according to Maxine, the all-female staff work well together.
“I find women to be compassionate, caring and patient,” she said. “We have the occasional difference, but that’s sorted out pretty quickly.”
Maxine lives with her husband Tim and new-born daughter Ashleigh on their family lucerne and cropping farm. She’s on maternity leave from work and another young woman, Emma Lowry, has stepped up to take on the day-to-day management, although Maxine still oversees from a distance.
Maxine is pleased that more women are coming into the industry. “Emma is a prime example,” she said. “Until six months ago she had no exposure to the dairy industry. For her to be basically managing a farm is quite an achievement which comes down to her personality and wanting to learn more.”
Maxine grew up on a family dairy farm in the Atherton Tableland and hopes Ashleigh will enjoy a similar rural upbringing.
“I liked the whole lifestyle of growing up on a farm,” she said.
She also hopes Ashleigh will inherit her love of showing cows, something that earned Maxine the nickname `jersey girl’ at school.
“That was the breed my great-grandfather started with and my grandfather and father continued,” she said. “I still have a soft spot for jerseys.”
In fact, that love runs deep – she even had photos taken on the morning of her wedding with the farm’s pet cow Violet.
Maxine starting work on Ross Lehmann’s farm five years ago, but it was tough initiation. “My first day coincided with the big floods of 2011 and I got stuck at work,” she recalls. “There was a lot of localised flooding but no permanent damage – we were lucky.”
Maxine had previously done relief milking on the farm and after completing her certificate study on another property, she asked if she could come back.
“Ross said I couldn’t have my old job back; but I could have the manager’s job. I thought `wow’.”
The decision has been fruitful for both parties.
Maxine sees a good future for dairy and is keen to continue working in the field. She’s also making her mark on the industry outside the farm gate.
She’s a strong supporter of the Legendairy communications initiative to raise the profile and reputation of the industry and sits on the state and local steering committee of the Young Dairy Network.
“You can never have enough exposure to dairy,” she said. “I think a lot of people in the city still believe milk comes out of a bottle and it just appears there.”