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My life as a dairy farmer

“Success doesn’t happen overnight” - Life as a dairy farmer isn’t easy – as Mark Direen should know. A third-generation farmer, he knows the industry well and has big, exciting plans for the farm’s future.

In recent years, Mark Direen has been active in the real estate world, but it wasn’t always that way.

For more than 30 years, Mark was a dairy farmer on his family’s farm: Mt Cygnet Dairy in the Huon Valley, Tasmania.

Back in 1953, Mark’s grandfather bought the property that now hosts an impressive herd of more than 60 cattle. The Direen family has been producing 2Cow milk ever since and they take great pride in their animals, as well as their land, in such a beautiful area of the world.

Taking their milk from two types of dairy cow – the Jersey and the Holstein – the family mixes the two varieties together for a creamy, protein-rich and tasty final product.

Growing up on a farm, Mark appreciated that his childhood was full of amazing experiences that his peers did not experience.

He still loves the quiet and hard-working country life. Since he’s still very much active in the Huon Valley community, there’s plenty for him to get involved in.

Cattle showing

In particular, Mark loves cattle showing. He remembers showing cattle at the Hobart Show and the Huon Show as a kid and continues that tradition with his family today, passing on the passion to his children.

“I’d love to get up north to show our cattle. They have great cattle shows up there,” he says.

Even as a kid, Mark knew that farming was always going to be hard work. Not only could he see how hard his parents worked, he wasn’t exempt from getting his hands dirty either.

“Other kids would get to go and play on the weekend,” he says. “Farming is seven days a week – no weekend for us!”

Aside from the labour, the biggest challenge for the Direen family has been keeping their head above water. This struggle has remained largely unchanged, even after 60 years of owning the farm.

Unforgiving banks

It’s not just the physical labour that poses a challenge for farmers like Mark; there’s also the thorny issue of securing financial backing from banks – a persistent difficulty since they started the business in 1953, with banks frequently unsympathetic to farmers’ issues.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that it’s impossible – it just takes a little persistence… even three generations worth of persistence.

Thinking about buying a farm? Mark knows all too well how rewarding farming can be, but he warns aspiring farmers that they’ll need to be patient.

“It’s not going to happen overnight,” he chuckles. As the third generation at Mt Cygnet Dairy, he knows all too well that nothing happens without a lot of money, time and hard work. (Find out how to optimise that investment in our guide to running a farm.)

Mark recommends speaking to as many farmers as you can find and, with their blessing, joining them on their farm for the day.

Every farmer has a different experience, a different set of challenges, depending on the crops they grow or the livestock they rear, as well as the local climate and their particular financial constraints.

Nugget of wisdom

His last nugget of wisdom? Make sure you raise enough cash to give yourself the best chance of success.

Income varies depending on weather patterns and international commodity prices fluctuate wildly, so it’s useful to have a safety margin. 

It might not be the most romantic part of farming, but cold hard cash is especially important in this sector given how unforgiving banks are with farmers. 

Now, after 60 years, Mt Cygnet Dairy has plans to build a factory and a café on the property, while Mark hopes to diversify into providing accommodation and a venue for weddings.

While the family strives to realise those dreams, there’s plenty to do on the farm in the meantime and an extra set of hands never goes unappreciated.

Are you looking to change your career and become a farmer? Check out our farms for sale right now. You can also look for other businesses near you.

Faye Ferris

About the author

APAC Sales & Marketing Director for, the world’s most popular website for buying and selling businesses globally, which attracts over 1.2 million visitors each month.