Jeremiah Coffee was resident in the Port Phillip District in 1838 and brought with him from Ireland a reference which stated that he was "competent to embrace and discharge any agricultural situation." It would appear that this reference was valid. The "Creswick Advertiser" on the 20 December 1860 wrote the following description of his farm.
"On travelling from Creswick to Spring Hill, the first homestead which heaves into sight is that of one of the oldest settlers in this district - Mr. J. Coffey - who has but recently turned his attention to farming. He is one of the few who were in this district previously to our gold discoveries. Last year he won a prize for his wheat. Mr. Coffey's wheat this year is even better than that which obtained the prize last year.
The wheat which carried off the prize last year yielded 52 bushells to the acre; this year the crop on the same land is heavier, and as early as any around. It will be ready to cut, if the weather keeps warm, in a fortnight. Already the golden tinge is perceptible. It is intended to be cut by one of Robinson's patent side-delivery reapers. A contrivance quite new is attached to this machine, which will enable the farmer to regulate the size of the sheaves at pleasure - certainly a valuable acquisition. Several other machines intended to supersede manual labour may be seen on this farm.
There is one piece of land, which six months ago was dense forest, now bearing a most luxuriant and promising crop.
The plan adopted by Mr. Coffey for bailing wild cattle is well deserving notice. This contrivance, which is very simple, but would be difficult to describe, for want of accepted terms by which to name the various parts, a cow, however wild, may be securely bailed without personal danger.
The milking shed which is entirely covered in, and built in a massive and substantial manner, measures about 40 feet by 80 feet. Adjoining are two large securely fenced yards, both opening into the milking shed, one for entrance and one for exit. The calves are admitted by a private way, and are so placed behind the bailing apparatus that the cow belonging to each particular calf is easily seduced into the trap.
The commodious barn, which was built last year, is to be considerably increased, for which purpose much of the timber is already on the ground. The potatoes, which are very early - in fact they are nearly ripe - may rank among the best I saw during my journey.
In the garden is to be seen fruit so abundant that in some cases - the apples for instance - the trees are actually breaking down by the weight of the fruit. Some vines, three years old, have large bunches of grapes upon them. Here too, may be seen trees which awaken pleasant memories - such as the poplar, the ash, the elder, the willow, the laurel, and the British oak, of which last all loyal Britishers are justly proud.
The domestic arrangements forcibly remind one of the accounts given by historians of the ancient baronial halls. Only fancy how perplexed a person with a delicate appetite must be on having placed before him a loaf weighing 36 pounds. He would certainly be puzzled how to cut it."
In subsequent years Jeremiah won Australian and International awards in Dublin and Paris for his wheat.
Contributed by Clare Bayne, President ( PPPG Member No. 1059 )
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