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Episode 21: Great and Small

On the next episode, screening July 11 at 7pm on TV ONE

Biddy Fraser-Davies divides her life into decades.  In her 20s she was a mother, in her 30s an artist, her 40s a writer, her 50s a board member - and now, in her 60s she describes herself as a 'milk maid'.

Biddy's husband Colin has had a variety of careers as well.  The former research chemist, school teacher and data programmer is now the cow-man on their small Wairarapa dairy farm.

The farm, south of Eketahuna, runs just four cows and a steer on three hectares of land - but they insist it's more than a hobby farm.

It was originally intended as a retreat from their busy city lives - but when their jobs ended they realised they had to generate an income from the land.

Biddy was given a cow not long after coming to the block. "I don't take milk in my tea so the question was what to do with the 26 litres of milk she was giving us," she says.

Rather than use it all on the cornflakes, their idea was to make cheese and butter - but neither of them had any farming experience.

"The last time anyone in my family owned a cow was around the 1700s," Colin says.

While Biddy learned about milking and cheese making, Colin read textbooks about the complexities of animal health and pasture management.

Their efforts have paid off. These days Biddy and Colin are up early to bring in the two cows they are currently milking. After wash-down, Biddy repairs to the cheese room and Colin attends to the stock.

Biddy's farmhouse cheeses are sold in restaurants and delis around the Wairarapa. They bring in a handy income - but not quite enough.

So their latest venture is to make commercial use of Colin's long-time hobby - model trains.

He has one of the largest model train layouts in New Zealand. Over 350 metres of track winds through a miniature landscaped English village, set up in a purpose-built shed behind the cheese room. To boost their income, Colin has now opens it to the public on weekends.

Biddy's not too sure about what the future holds. "I've only got another two years till I reach 70," she says. "Who knows, with another decade, it might be time for another career."

To e-mail Colin and Biddy,
For more about their model railway,