Farmers across the region are singing in the rain as late winter downpours nourish South West pastures and crops. Wokalup dairy farmers Philip and Suzanne Hall collected 38mm in 24 hours and were relieved to finally get some rain. It was also bucketing down in Harvey and Waroona, where 36mm and 34mm respectively fell overnight during last week’s monster storm. However, Mr Hall said the drying climate meant farmers were having to get creative and find ways of becoming more water-efficient. “It is always wonderful to get some wet weather,” Mr Hall said. “I was out there with the nitrogen fertiliser trying to take advantage of it but we have to think outside the box and find other ways to work the farm with less water. “It has been a good season and we have grown a lot of grass but there has not been enough water for inflow into our dam so we have to rely on hay over irrigation.” Mr Hall said piping the drains and using silage were two ways that could help farmers going forward. “Piped drains work better than opened drains because they have no evaporation,” he said. “It is all direct and there are no big channels where water can be lost.” He also said silage could be used to feed the cows throughout the year. The plastic-wrapped hay omits oxygen while conserving nutrients. Along with celebrating the liquid gold that fell from the sky, Mr and Mrs Hall were also happy about the new Brownes announcement. The Brownes contractors are pleased WA cheddar will be made in Brunswick after a 14-year hiatus. “If people buy Brownes products, they are supporting West Australian farmers whose milk is used to make the products,” Mrs Hall said. However, cheddar is not the only cheese on the menu at the Wokalup farm. The pair are three years into the production of their gourmet French cheese variety — the Halls Suzette. The Pont-l’Eveque has a soft washed rind that bears a resemblance to camembert and brie. The deluxe dairy product uses Normande cows’ milk and is handmade just down the road by Robert St Duke at Harvey Cheese. The Halls Family Dairy is one of the few farms in Australia that has the famous French cows, which have high levels of casein beta and kappa in their milk – perfect for cheesemaking. The artisan cheese won this year’s State Produce Award, on top of the farmers winning last year’s Producer of the Year award. “It has been great working with chefs around the region,” Mr Hall said. “Out of the top 50 restaurants in Perth, we would probably be in most of them.” The famous cheese has also attracted plenty of attention both interstate and overseas. Mr Hall said producing cheese had really “opened his eyes” to what he needed to do to keep going in the struggling dairy industry. “There used to be 150 dairy farmers around Harvey prior to deregulation but now we would be struggling to have 16,” he said. Despite the challenges, Mr Hall said he would not choose to be anything else. “If I lived to be 200, I’d still be a dairy farmer. “I absolutely love it; I think it is the best job in the world.” People wanting to get their hands on a block of artisan cheese should contact the Halls Family Dairy.