Pull up a stool, an old crate or the odd hay bale and sit for a minute, rest your tired legs and listen to a tale or two about the down to earth folk that call Felton home. The Felton Valley is famous for its rich, fertile and productive black soils that fuel this large scale agricultural production area, providing a bounty of crops that in turn feed the world. But it’s the individuals that work the land, fathers and sons, wives and daughters, generations upon generations of hard working souls that are the unsung heroes of our homeland.
The Felton district is just 30km south-west of Toowoomba and is a particularly picturesque part of the Darling Downs. In addition to its soils, Felton boasts magnificent scenery, clean air and a climate that enables it to grow food crops all year round. Crops like sorghum, corn, wheat, barley, chickpeas, mungbeans, sunflowers, lettuce, cabbages, beetroot, celery and onions. The district is also a significant producer of beef, lamb, pork, poultry, eggs and dairy.
In fact, up until 1940 or so, every farm in Felton was a dairy farm, supplying milk to the many local cheese factories. This included the Mengel’s dairy farm, which was started in 1922 by Rowan Mengel’s grandfather, and despite most of the dairies around them closing due to deregulation and tougher times, Rowan and his wife Isy are proud to run the farm today as third generation dairy farmers.
The Mengel’s property of 1,700 acres is home to 450 cows (give or take a few), with all of the milk from Rowan’s dairy going straight to Pauls. Rowan himself likes a joke and a good yarn, and is a salt of the earth kind of fella. When asked if he enjoys farming, Rowan was quick to reply “I love it, otherwise I wouldn't be here” and his smile backed this up. Rowan comments, "You’re born into farming - it's in your blood!"
After Rowan and his wife Isy round up the cows for the afternoon milking, Isy ducks over to have a look at her little babies - the Dexter cows. After many years of difficulties with calving heifers Rowan started using a Dexter bull and has never looked back (neither has Isy, she now has her own babies.)
Isy might have her babies, but Rowan has his ‘girlfriends’, as Isy calls them, referring to Rowan’s spectacular collection of old machinery that litters the property, the apples of Rowan’s eye and a collection he never stops adding to. Heaven forbid if a scrappy will get their hands on these girls!
Rowan and Isy Mengel, just two of the hard working, down to earth farmers, who love to call Felton home.