I was like an excited little kid waiting for Christmas Day and arrived early for day 3 of the Sydney Royal Cheese and Dairy Show judging. It is widely recognised the Sydney Royal Wine, Dairy and Fine Food Shows set the standard in Australian wine and food judging and offer producers a platform to benchmark their products within the Australian market. Only the most exceptional quality is recognised with gold and silver medals providing a perfect platform for marketing exposure.

Lynne Strong

All dressed up and ready to work

Today I was to have the ultimate sensory ice-cream experience stewarding the ice-cream judging at the Sydney Royal Cheese and Dairy Produce Show. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like ice-cream and there I was eyeing off the best the country has to offer.

The Sydney Royal does everything with style and the day started with a yummy breakfast for judges and stewards.


I had a birds-eye view of the massive upgrade being undertaken on the arena


I had the pleasure of meeting international legend that is Herve Mons


Herve Mons discusses the day’s duties with Chairman of the Royal Dairy Produce Show Gerry Andersen

My mentor for the day was RAS Councillor and former chairman of the Sydney Turf Club Bill Picken. Bill is all personality and with lots of wise advice I soon got into the swing of things.

Bill Picken

Racing Identity Bill Picken

Mark Craig and Susan

Ice-cream judges Susan Burns, Craig Davis and Mark Livermore.

The steward’s role is to ensure the judging process runs smooth and effectively. This includes ensuring each entry is presented to the judges at the correct temperature.

A scoop of each ice-cream is placed on a separate plate behind the entry so the judges can view its melting profile. The judges then take numerous samples for tasting.

Ice-cream is judged on Flavour, Texture, Appearance and Melting.


Susan closes her eyes and mind to the world about her and holds each sample approximately the same length of time in her mouth,


As the ice cream melts on your tongue there should be a pure taste

To evaluate the flavour a small amount of the frozen ice cream is placed directly into the mouth and quickly manipulated between the tongue and palate and the taste and odour sensations are noted. By pressing a small portion of the frozen ice cream against the roof of the mouth the smoothness, the coarseness, the sandiness, and the relative size of the ice crystals can be determined


Mark clearly enjoys the task

The experts can get a fairly accurate impression of the ice-cream’s body and texture characteristics by dipping the ice cream. The judges notice the way it cuts and the feel of the dipper or spoon as its cutting edge passes through the ice cream.

You may have heard that the overall quality of an ice-cream line can be judged by tasting its vanilla. True. Simple and pure, a scoop of vanilla should have a distinctive but delicate flavour that lets you experience the texture of the ice cream without masking other quality indicators.


There was no shortage of flavours on offer

Appearance/Presentation –  Ice cream should look freshly made. Icy crystals on the surface or around the edges of the tub indicate either that the ice cream has been melted and refrozen or that it’s old.


There was even a Banana and Vegemite Flavour

Texture –There has to be some “air” in ice cream or else it would be hard as ice. But you also don’t want it to be all fluffy. The surface of the ice cream should be smooth. There should be some heft to a cup of ice cream, and when you dig in your spoon, you should feel a little resistance.


A team of 5 RAS staff ensures everything runs smoothly and double and triple check every score card

Once the individual classes are judged and the gold medal winners decided the top four gold medal winners are bought out in each section to determine the champions in their respective categories


The judges from all the sections come together to decide the champions. One of the finalists was a Lamington flavoured ice-cream. Not surprisingly this was a flavour our French judge was not familiar with

Lamington Icecream

Fellow judge Rob Elliott describing the Ozzie icon the “lamington” to Herve Mons


Champion Ice-cream

Champion Icecream
Entry 413 Class 49 Premium Ice Cream or Gelato, any flavour, minimum 12% fat content. GUNDOWRING FINEST ICE CREAM GINGER

Don’t quote me but I got the impression that our Aussie Gelatos and ice-creams could compete with the best of the best world wide


And a great day was had by all including me. I look forward to doing it all again next year

See here for a full list of the Gold Medal Winners

Great follow up from ABC




Clover returns–she just keeps coming back

Back in December I told you the story of Clover the python and her near death experience and her relocation to places quite far away

Well we recently had a visit from a Russian farmer delegation and whilst visiting the dairy they spotted something in the big Figtree that had them quite fascinated


Well blow me down if it wasn’t our good friend Clover


The dairy is only 100 metres from my house and I will keep my fingers crossed Clover decides to make the dairy her new home.

Russian latte–opening the farmgate has many advantages

We have been opening our farm gate to international delegations for over ten years.

There is no denying hosting visitors to your farm is a lot of work. It can also be very rewarding and enlightening

I grew up a country town in NSW. I met the first person who couldn’t speak English when I was ten. I was fascinated by the new girl at our school who was Italian and didn’t speak one word of English. How brave was she. We didn’t mean to but I am pretty sure we all made her feel like an alien.

I learnt French at school so was very comfortable travelling to France when I went overseas but I must admit sadly I have favoured visits to overseas countries where the majority of people speak English.

So hosting delegations of farmers who speak no English is quite an eye opening learning experience. Whilst they always come with a translator invariably the translator knows little about farming.


Dimitry the translator knew little about farming but he made up for that with lots of personality and good humour

The farmers always take loIMG_6702ts of notes


take hundred of pictures


not only video cameras but and Ipads as well


and ask a lot of questions


and like all farmers love big pieces of machinery


and love to share their farming stories and this weeks visitors from Russia were no different.


Our consultant Dr Neil Moss was on hand to explain the technical details

Come to think of it I don’t think I have meet a Russian before and these farmers where so Russian. Why was I so flabbergasted when the bottles of vodka were bought out for morning team

Russian Latte 2

There was vodka for the Russian Lattes


Straight vodka and vodka on the rocks

Russian Birthday Boy

Russian and Aussie icons go down well together

This Russian delegation was from the Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad) region and they were very proud of their heritage presenting me with a replica of the famous Motherland Calls statue.


The history of this statue is fascinating. Briefly in 1967, the Soviet Union dedicated a towering monument to one of its great World War II triumphs. The Motherland Calls stands 170 ft., hoisting a sword to the sky that measures another 108 ft. 200 steps lead to the base of the statue to commemorate the 200 day battle of Stalingrad where the Red Army broke a German siege, only to surround and defeat the invading army. Motherland is not fixed to her base, though, and seeping groundwater has caused the plinth to lean nearly eight inches.


I also received a bottle of Russia’s finest and I have since had a few Cosmopolitans to remind me of our new Russian friends



When humans interfere with nature

As part of my Christmas at the Dairy post I mentioned we made the choice of interfering with nature by choosing to artificially hatch out a clutch of eggs two of our chooks decided they were no longer going to sit on after the first four chickens were born


New life – Four healthy chickens and 17 eggs still to hatch out ( Hen on the left is a Peking and hen on the right is a Silky)

Broody chooks will not only sit on their own eggs but also tend to gather other chooks eggs over the next 21 days. So when the original clutch of eggs hatch the chooks have to make the decision to look after the live ones or continue to sit on the remaining eggs until they hatch and hope the live ones can look after themselves.

Not surprisingly they chose life over potential life – sounds pragmatic to me

However humans have the capacity to help them do both and being big softies Michael and I chose this option.


Chicken eggs in incubator 

Its pretty simple to do and very rewarding bringing new chickens into the world


Once they hatch they stay 24 hours in the incubator and then we move them to their next home


We use a plastic container like this and cover the bottom with pine shavings or in this case rice hulls


We supply them with fresh water and chick starter


and a light to keep them warm

Then we have to make the big decision as to when is the best time to give them back to their mums


By this time you are getting pretty attached and you tend to keep putting it off and putting it off

So by now the 2nd batch ( they are still hatching) are almost two weeks old and it was now or never

So we decided to put the first 5 out on dusk just as mothers and the chickens they were looking after had gone to bed.


We were very excited as you can see we managed to tuck “our” chickens under their mums with their brothers and sisters (B&S)


But it was a different thing next morning. The mums and B&S went off and did their own thing and left “our” chickens to their own devices.


But we are so proud of our offspring. They are resilient little champions. They have embraced the “chook palace” like they were born there.  


Our cows are just fascinated by chooks


They have figured out how to get fed


and watered


They have gone on some big adventures


Climbed a rock face


In the meantime they are are not being completely ignored by their mothers and B&S who have walked by many times.


and are now staying very close by


With the silky chook keeping a very close eye on their activities. Tomorrow is another day and I wouldn’t be surprised if this silky chook has new family 


In the meantime another chicken has hatched in the incubator !!!!!!

The humans should get their act together and collect the eggs more regularly and  we wouldn’t need to play mums to other animal’s children would we??

Christmas at the dairy

It always amuses me when people assume the cows get a day off for Christmas. Do breast feeding mothers get Xmas off? I don’t think so.

After all when you take on the responsibility of caring for other living things whether they be animals or children it is 365 and 24/7.

No-one is complaining at Clover Hill – though Michael is not quite sure how he scored the midday shift at the home farm but then that still leaves 21 hours to celebrate.

On our farm Louise coordinates the Xmas cheer.

Louise is just one of those people everybody loves having on their team. Louise brings the festive spirit to the dairy like no other


For the babies she looks after


and this one just 4 hours old

IMG_3780 C

for Sean


for Martin


There is also rumour Louise has pictures of Michael and Nick with antlers on. They are yet to surface but rest assured I am on working on it. WATCH THIS SPACE

The girls waiting to be milked think all of these hijinks are highly amusing.


Though they are a bit jealous when they find out Louise has Antlers for Eileen but not for all of them!!


But then Eileen’s face is adorable and lends itself to superb photo opps don’t you think?

Its not all play and no work. The babies still get fed and weighed to make sure we are taking just as good care of them as their mums do.

and back at the Chook pen new life has arrived for Christmas


But the girls got off the eggs before they had all hatched. So the farmers took over from nature and bought a few more into world


Which we will give back to their mums in a few days

Craig saved Christmas for our next neighbour by finding and fixing her broken water pipe


Michael said thanks Craig with a few beers.


The grain arrives and gets unloaded and Col is still trying to find out why all the parts haven’t arrived from NZ to install the new 30,000 milk vat. OMG Can you believe someone can put a vat this size on a ship and let it sail it across the ocean and left all the other bits that make it work sitting on the dock which now all have to be put on a plane and flown over. All that CO2

And what do you know?  Its dawn and its all happening again.

The girls say “Do we really have to go down that big hill this morning?

and Nick and Sean bring the springers (cows calving in the next 3 weeks) home


And next thing you know the girls are back in the dairy waiting patiently to be milked.


Sean’s on the job

Wouldn’t give it up for quits.