Louise Giltrap challenges the haters: Do some good
Direct your passion for hating dairy farmers into doing some good, like cleaning up domestic violence, Louise Giltrap challenges the keyboard warriors
OPINION: Another dairy season is very quickly coming to an end... we have had another load of in-milk cows arrive which means our cowshed won't get shut down until at least the end of May 2018.
That's right, we are milking through empty in-milk cows and putting them to the bull on June 1 to give them another chance at getting in calf. Then, when they are ready to be dried off, they will go back to their owner for an eight-week break before having their calves.
Then it's back to the cowshed to be milked instead of the alternative which would have been the slaughterhouse.
I guess that's how the world works. There are no free lunches and dairy cows are no different. Geoff and I work every day, we pay the bank, we pay our bills and we get to survive another year on the farm.
That's all while being publicly accused of being the lowest form of the human race - a dairy farmer.
We read how awful we are, how much everyone gets ripped off on the shelf price of milk. Apparently we are singlehandedly ruining the entire country's water quality and we are all rich, under-taxed capitalist bastards.
The other day, while I was in our kitchen stewing some feijoas my neighbour gave me, I thought "Why don't Geoff and I just sell the farm and study to become lawyers?"
That's got to be a better profession than being a dairy farmer. We could live in the city and we could feel good about the work we did everyday. It would be fabulous defending innocent people from the awful things others had done to them.
But then we all know not all lawyers are working for the greater good of upholding our judicial system. Just as in any trade or profession, they have their bad eggs. Like those ripping off the elderly of hard-earned money entrusted to their care. And some are just plain old useless at what they do.
But, if you want to report a lawyer to the law society you will be damned if you can find another lawyer to go up against one of their own and do what's right. And good luck with getting away with setting a camera up in a lawyer's office to catch them out doing wrong.
See, we dairy farmers aren't like that. If we see one of our own doing something wrong, we will step in and say something. We will call animal welfare, we will have a word about what's not right and we will stand up and say "You are letting the side down mate, clean up or get out".
Geoff and I know a lot of dairy farmers and this season has been one of the hardest to work through, though the weather and the payout only make up about 30 per cent of the difficulty.
I have heard some of the strongest and most dedicated farmers burst into tears on the phone with sheer frustration at being labelled as among the most disgusting human beings on the planet.
My friend has had to deal with her mum having a stroke this season and going through the agony of sitting by her waiting to see some sign that she will live. Then came all the decisions about long-term care, making sure she will be taken care of in her nursing home and not mistreated.
What I wonder is, those of you who want to hate on and throw every dairy farmer under a bus for all our supposed wrongdoings, maybe your passion to set the world right could be better used cleaning up the level of domestic violence in this country.
The murders, the suicide rate and the 3500 prescriptions that are written out every year to children under the age of 13 for depression, all of those problems could do with some help. Go into schools and get to the bottom of the bullying, do something to help make our children feel safe while they learn.
Aw no, hang on a minute, you can't and won't do that because you will have to come out from behind your nom-de-plumes and grubby keyboards and actually front up.
Come out to our farms and have some solution-based discussions. Seeing as we are doing it all so wrong I am confident that all of your accusations are based on a high level of intelligence and concrete findings gathered from conducting up-front and honest conversations with dairy farmers face to face.
If that's right then we all need you, we need your help not your slander at the bottom of articles on the internet, just like this one.
Louise Giltrap is a Northland dairy farmer. She loves to hear from readers at firstname.lastname@example.org.