What is WAGS?…Women In Agriculture Gaining More Skills

A relaxed and informative “Summer Session” earlier this week at North West WAGS.  Women In Agriculture … an initiative provided by the North West Local Land Services (LLS).  The WAGS program facilitates technical upskilling in the agricultural industry and agribusiness management.  It provides a welcoming space that women can ask the “silly questions” without feeling awkward or embarrassed.

All women are invited to the free bi-monthly workshops, events and agricultural based days throughout the year.  WAGS have a range of women from inexperienced to the more experienced in agriculture.  A variety of topics are chosen, with direction from the women in the group.  The workshops offer an opportunity to share and gain skills and knowledge around topics such as ruminant nutrition, plantings and drought resilience.

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Our last event was about “Surviving the Summer and an end of year get together” so was very relaxed yet very informative.  Useful topics that were covered included:

  • Being Fire Safe
  • Being Farm Safe
  • Summer Management of Livestock
  • Summer Sowing Options

We learned where the “safest place” is during a fire on your property and how to handle the incident.  The most important thing is to have that family discussion, so everyone is aware of the plan.  We were given a guide for making our own Bush Fire Survival Plan.  I feel more confident now, on what to do if faced with a fire on my farm or near my home.  For more information see these links:

  • Bush Fire Survival Plan – to get your free plan for your family.
  • Fires Near Me NSW – an iPhone “app” providing information on bush fire incidents in NSW.  There is also a “Fires Near Me Australia” app.

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NSW Rural Fire Service also requests that you monitor the websites of your local fire and emergency service for bush fire information.

A WorkCover presentation provided us with information relating to on-farm quad bike safety.  Interesting and informative.  Current rebates were discussed for improving safety on the farm.  For more information, see these links.

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Information was provided regarding sowing options, forage sorghum varieties and changes to herbicide 2,4-D noting to check the safety data sheets.  In the current drought hay has been purchased from interstate, so there will be new weeds introduced to our properties.  We are advised to bring in the weed to LLS to be identified or take some photos.

An abundance of information was presented regarding livestock management in drought, feed nutrition and water quality.  We also heard about the trials on tropical pastures.

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There was a representative from RAMHP – Rural Adversity Mental Health Program – a program to inform, educate and connect people with appropriate services.  This is an important initiative in times of drought.  Information was provided on mental health and managing stress during drought.  For more information, see link RAMHP.

Not only were we provided with so much knowledge and information sheets, the Loomberah Hall Ladies provided a delicious morning tea and lunch.  As I was leaving one of the ladies gave me a beautiful envelope donated by a city person to a farmer in drought.

When I opened it, there was a little personalised note with $25 requesting it be spent on something nice like flowers, hairdo or chocolates.  I have not had my haircut for ages, so that is what I will do.  How kind and thoughtful of this lovely lady… it really made my day.  Small gestures go such a long way.  Thank you so very much.

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This drought has reminded me that there are really kind and caring people in the community at large.  Farmers are even finding strangers connecting with them, making way to new friendships.  We are surrounded by a lot of generous and thoughtful community members.  Thank you all for supporting our farmers.

Topics that have been covered on other WAGS days in the Tamworth area, have included:

  • Using and Training Working Dogs – with Tony Overton, a well-regarded dog handler and stockman from Walcha.
  • Using the LPA and NLIS websites – with practical use on laptops.
  • Feed Testing Results – important in drought times.

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Just one day away from the farm, can lift the spirit and you get to enjoy the company of other women and share stories.  It is an enjoyable way to learn and grow your skills, especially with the challenges faced with the drought.

The WAGS program is facilitated by Naomi Hobson, Kate Pearce and Sally Balmain from the North West LLS Ag Extension team and has engaged with over 100 ladies across the four WAGs groups based around:

  • Tamworth
  • Narrabri
  • Walgett
  • North Star

For more information about the WAGS program:

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Similar programs are “Ladies in Livestock” facilitated by the Northern Tablelands Local Land Services.  Groups are based at:

  • Guyra
  • Inverell
  • Tenterfield
  • Walcha

For more information about Ladies in Livestock, contact Georgie Oakes at Northern Tablelands LLS on 0429 310 264, as well as the Ladies in Livestock Facebook page.

Take care, Karen.

“When women support each other,

incredible things happen.”

~ International Women’s Day 2018

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