THINKING outside the square has not only saved Inglenook Dairy farm it has allowed the family run enterprise to flourish in ways they never thought possible.
Rachael Peterken along with her husband Troy, parents Basil and Shelia Britt and siblings Karl and Gina run Inglenook Dairy farm in Dunnstown where they have recently built their own milk processing facility.
After 13 years of drought and poor milk prices they could no longer make a living off their dairy farm unless something changed.
"During the drought we really struggled," Mrs Peterken said.
"But our family is very passionate about farming and so we started to look outside the square.
"My husband said the milk is our product so why don't we produce it.
"We weren't going down without a fight."
After a long two and a half years to get the processing facility up and running, Inglenook Dairy milk has been on the shelves of selected IGAs since last December.
It is also used in cafes and restaurants and sold at farmers markets.
The family produce full cream homogenised, full cream un-homogenised and low-fat un-homogenised milk and will soon be making cream.
So exactly how did the family go about setting up a processing facility?
The Peterkins and Britts said the process required copious amounts of dedication, along with advice from other dairy farmers who had gone down the same track.
Online research helped too.
"We got advice from a dairy farmer in Queensland who was doing something similar," Mrs Peterken said.
"We spoke with him about the best equipment to use and we then turned to the internet to find places which stocked that equipment.
"A lot of our research was done online."
But what about finances?
"We devised a business and marketing plan which we took to the bank," she said.
The family figured out it would cost $1 million to build the facility - and with a well-researched business plan the money was approved.
A total of 11 months was spent on completing compliance, testing and permits.
Vigilant planning and research has ensured the processing facility have been a wise investment.
While they have received terrific support and more than satisfying feedback for their natural and fresh milk there are challenges that the family face and changing the mindset of the consumer is one.
A two litre bottle of Inglenook Dairy milk is priced at $4.95 and provides the consumer with fresh farm milk which is permeate and additive free - and in turn the consumer is supporting the Australian dairy industry.
In comparison, two litres of Coles private label milk can be purchased for $2, which has had an impact on farmers' profits, particularly in Qld and NSW.
Mrs Peterken said more education was needed so that the consumer was more aware of products available to them and where they come from.
"Farming in Australia will only stay viable if the attitude of the consumer changes," she said. "Farmers aren't crying poor.
"They are trying new initiatives and are coming up with ways to make the industry viable.
"The farmer has done the hard yards and now it's up to the consumer and to Australians to start supporting the Australian dairy industry."
Back on the farm, Shelia and Karl milk the 250 Holstein-Friesian dairy cows twice a day at 6am and 4pm and operate a herringbone dairy.
And so far the family's enterprise has been going well.
"Due to demand we will be increasing our herd to around 300-350 head," Mrs Britt said.
"We have a spring and autumn calving and cull for temperament and production."
The family also produce their own silage and hay to ensure the business is sustainable.
"We have done a lot of research and put in hours of hard work," Mrs Peterken said.
"Building the processing plant has been an amazing experience and if nothing else it has taught my children that nothing is ever unachievable."