Near the southern outskirts of Timaru the Weirs have been part of the local scene for decades.
In the 1940s Stu Weir’s grandparents started milking cows at Glenwillow Farm, in Fairview Rd.
There were not many cows then – just 25 – and the property covered only 20ha but, together with running some pigs, it was enough to make a good living.
Stu’s parents Bill and Shona took over and now Stu and wife Andrea run the property, which has grown to 100ha with 200 cows and no pigs.
Apart from some time at Lincoln and contracting work, Mr Weir has always been at Glenwillow Farm.
”We milk all year round and have a contract with Fonterra,” he says.
The Weirs also operate a side business, Real Milk, which has been going for five years.
Fifteen cows are milked separately for this side of the farm business.
The Weirs had noticed people wanted fresh, non-pasteurised, and non-homogenised milk, so they set up the business.
Initially they branded it under ”Village Milk” then changed it to ”Real Milk Timaru” after rule changes by MPI.
Three days a week Stu delivers around Timaru and there is also a vending machine at the farm on Fairview Rd.
Quality is assured and the milk is packed the old way, in glass bottles
”The milk is tested weekly for bacteria count and general milk quality,” Mr Weir said.
”Being close to town has generally worked in well with the public.
”We see it as a benefit for our business and it closes that rural-urban divide.
”People can get access to the farms, as well, to see the calves.”
Mrs Weir says children often come with their parents to watch the cows being milked.
”They get an understanding milk just doesn’t arrive in the fridge.”
The Weirs work 10-hour days, milking each morning at 6am.
”Andrea has a roster of assistant milkers in the shed,” Mr Weir said.
”We’re calving at the end of February, which gives a winter supply herd for Fonterra and Real Milk.
”All our calves are either replacement heifers or beef cross calves sold on for the beef industry.
”No bobby calves leave the place. It’s only because we’re a small farm with a market for everything.”
The Weirs are having a new milking shed built, which will have a retail outlet added.
It is a DeLaval P2100 design.
”The standard milking shed has a row of cups in the centre. These are double, down both sides and with head bails, so the cows can walk straight out.”
Stu says it will be ideal for their smaller operation.
”They’re clean and efficient to operate in. You’ve still got personal contact with the cows, as opposed to a rotary where they’re cupped and gone.”
The present shed has stood for 40 years and Mr Weir said it was past its use-by date.
Having three generations of Weirs on the well known dairy farm begs the question, will it stretch to a fourth generation?
The Weirs have three children Rosaria (25), Isabella (24) and Mitchell (21).
Mrs Weir says all three are doing other things but the possibility is there.
”You need a passion for this, because it is hard work.”