Monday, 26 August 2013 14:13

History of the Milkshed

Riegerton Dairy was established in 1946 when Mr Robert Rieger, affectionately known as ‘Bobby’, purchased Farm 800 in Gonubie. This is where the story of the Milkshed began.

Bobby Rieger was born in East London on 20 August 1922. Fresh out of school he set off to buy 5 cows, which he grazed on rented land in the Summerpride area just outside East London. The full cream milk was bottled and delivered by hand daily and naturally was organic as was the standard back in the day. When he purchased Farm 800 in 1946 he had increased his sales to 450 gallons compared to a mere 5 gallons he was producing while he was renting land. He was also the first farmer in East London to own a pasturising and bottling machine to cope with the abundance of sales. By now the horse and cart delivery method was phased out and the motorised vehicle became the new sign of a successful dairy farm.

The farm buildings, including the milking shed – now our newly renovated Milkshed workshop, date back to 1869 when an English General, Sir Edward Brabant, was given the land as a reward for his service in the armed forces. The half-meter thick sandstone walls were all constructed by artisan maisoners and the wooden windows, doors, ceilings and floors were manufactured on site from timber salvaged from the Jane Davie, a ship that ran aground at Nahoon Mouth. In 1985 the main house was awarded national monument status.

Bobby Rieger’s love for his cows enabled him to manage the dairy until the age of 84 before suffering a stroke and sadly passing a year later from cancer.

His story is one of dedication and passion for his work. Born in an era plagued by the war-born recession, he forged his way to financial success. There are not many people that can enthusiastically wake up at 3am every morning.

The passion lives on within the thick sandstone walls of the beloved milking shed. Its intention is still to nurture the lives of many although today it is with a dairy-free approach.

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