CWA Conference Aspires Leadership & Friendship from Albury

Country Women’s Association of NSW (CWA) members bring an abundance of knowledge, energy and inspiration into Albury NSW for this year’s Annual State Conference.  From business meetings, honourable guests and informative workshops… to social activities, historical tours and State Committee displays… there was never a dull moment.  And I have caught it on camera, then compiled a video to share with you today.

I had the privilege to attend as a Delegate for Tamworth Evening branch along with my friend Kylie and a group of ladies from our region.  Women from all walks of life coming together with their unique backgrounds, experiences and expertise to seek a mutual resolution of motions.

CWA aims to improve the lives of women and their families through their democratic process of a policy-setting agenda and an extensive range of activities.  Many opportunities lie within all levels of CWA to be involved and seek the support of local issues of grave concern.

Starting with a combined Ecumenical Service and raising $2,884 for the Albury Wodonga Cancer Research Fund, members once again unite and connect socially.  The Official Opening entertained and inspired members prior to the Business Sessions commencing.  The keynote speaker was Her Excellency The Honourable Margaret Beazley AO QC Governor of NSW.

The CWA Medical Research Fund has raised $34,000 to donate towards endometriosis.  A debilitating disease affecting many women with symptoms of pelvic pain and fertility issues.  An interesting medical presentation has identified through research the importance of potential protein biomarkers of endometriosis.  CWA members have voted to continue supporting endometriosis through their Medical Research Fund for another year.

Interestingly CWA has opened 12 new branches over the last year; 11 Evening branches and 1 Sunrise branch.  CWA is now appealing to younger generations and working women that have a desire to become involved, having an opportunity to attend meetings that are more convenient.

Women join CWA for a variety of reasons such as friendships, social connections, educational opportunities, sharing of experiences, learning cookery skills, creating handicraft items, to discuss local agricultural concerns, the policy-setting agenda… and the list goes on.

International information was shared on the CWA Country of Study for this year which is Papua New Guinea.  Other cultures are interesting and CWA members have the ability to learn new and fascinating information.

Business Sessions continued throughout the Conference where policy motions were discussed, amended as needed and then voted upon.  A diverse range of topics arose in the scope of agriculture and environment, health and social security, transport and telecommunications and Constitutional changes.

Important resolutions were sought from CWA branches and successfully made CWA State policy for topics such as rural crime, improper use of drones, travelling stock routes, food safety standards for meat and milk, erecting a wildlife overpass, dairy industry issues, public cancer clinics, post mortems, supporting nurses, health industry pricing, drought relief funding, scoliosis, Automated External Defibrilators, horse traffic road rules, and truck-specific rest areas.

CWA, as the largest women’s organisation in Australia, plays an important role in lobbying the Government for change and improvements across so many aspects of our lives.  I am very proud to be a part of such an hounourable and progressive organisation.

As a shy individual, with the thought of public speaking terrifying me all of my life, I chose to step up and speak at this year’s State Conference.  This decision aligned well with my current journey of personal growth and challenging myself.

I spoke against a motion and explained my reasoning, without falter, in front of 500 other members.  When a Past State President asked for me (and another member) to assist in the re-wording of the motion to incorporate the relevant concerns, it felt amazing to be part of this process, working together for the desired result.  The motion was to review a weed classification, educate and research.

Another highlight for me, was winning 3rd place in an annual essay competition presented by the Honorary Editor of the CWA Journal.  This was the first time I had entered a CWA competition, so I was very excited.  The essay topic was “In modern times, do we have the capacity to harness the power of empathy for one another?”  I found this topic very engaging and relatable, therefore very passionate to write about.

Socially we had a very entertaining week away, with plenty of laughter, great meals, dancing and friendly conversations.  I also caught up with some old friends and was delighted to see them again.  CWA brings a great bunch of women together with big hearts, thoughtful personalities, compelling stories and a myriad of experience.

Since the drought has been ever so heavy upon my shoulders, I valued my week away so very much.  I spoke with my husband every night, checking that all was OK on the farm, and appreciated the time out with CWA members and the uplifted feeling that had surrounded me.

I would like to share my amateur video with you all reflecting on the fun, the engagement and the memories of the happenings with CWA State Conference in Albury… through my eyes.

Take care, Karen.

 “Don’t let anything defeat you.”

~ Governor of NSW Margaret Beazley

Video Credit: YouTube and Karen Weller

Advertisements

Rural Reflections #18

Most people believe their lives are just routine, procedures… nothing of real interest to anyone else.  But I learned something this week… that we each have our own story that others would like to visually delve into and know more about.

Farming is just a monotonous daily routine yet with complicated twists and turns to keep us at attention.  My youngest son once said… that he has chosen the farming industry because the job is not boring and involves an array of fields combined into one career path.  This is very true.

Farmers are multi-faceted as livestock handlers, vets, machine operators, mechanics, agronomists, horticulturalists, rainfall analysists, cropping experts, builders, administration databases, business marketers, distributors, financial analysists… but with a passion to bring it all together with a single focus.  Food sustainability is that focus and a very valuable asset to our nation.

Today I am sharing this photo with you that was taken earlier this week on our property… a single shot reflecting on the farming zone.  The tractor had finished cultivating a paddock several nights ago, in preparation for the next shower and was heading back to the shed for the next task of loading feed onto a trailer.  A tractor that is used for a multitude of tasks on the farm.

Rural Reflection #18…

18 The Farming Zone

image subject to copyright

My son is driving the tractor, unaware that I am snapping photos behind him, but he is focused on the next job and thinking about what else needs to be done today.  I love his self-motivation and business perspective at such a young age.  We are very fortunate to have his passion and perspective as a part of our farming business.

Another reason that farmers are so passionate about farming… is the attachment to family and the generational interest in farming.  Family farms are often managed by multiple generations and with new farming technology, the younger generation can be involved in management.

I also like this photo with the Hereford cattle in the background, a large motivation as to what we commit to in our farming business.  Like everybody, farmers have their own individual motivation that drives them every day.  Everybody is different in their passion yet able to unite to feed and clothe our nation.

The newly erected silos in the distance depict our latest drought-proofing investment.  A building activity that both of our sons were able to physically assist with.  These silos are a reminder to me that family comes together for support when needed.  As my family concreted the silo pads, under the guidance of our eldest son, I am reminded of the important things in life… the love for our family.

Because we tend to work in our industry every day… we forget that other people find what we do interesting.  All industries are interesting to the people that are unfamiliar with them.  So this weekend I attempted my first video to share visually what a brief moment of our life entailed when preparing stud animals.  See my short first video titled Grooming Swanvale Playboy.

We all bring value to this world and unique attributes as we connect with our communities.  See the real value in what you do.  What can you share with someone else today?

Take care, Karen.

“Agriculture not only gives riches to a nation,

but the only riches she can call her own.”

~ Samuel Johnson,

an Australian actor, producer, radio presenter & philanthropist.

Rural Reflections #17

All work and no play in the farming game.  With the daily ritual of feeding livestock, paddocks being cultivated (and hoping for rain), mustering cattle and repairing fences.  The work is just never done.

But we did fit in a casual stroll with the Hereford bulls… heading down to the stockyards today.  I find mustering bulls quite interesting… as they are full of testosterone and become very playful when they are heading somewhere different from their usual paddocks.  Dirt… bare dirt just fascinates them… or other cattle in the distant paddocks will spark their curiosity and a sudden urge to play, run and jump around… just like children.  Simply fascinating!

As a part of our farming enterprise, we breed Hereford bulls to sell for reproduction purposes.  A quiet temperament is predominant in the Hereford breed, as is the feed conversion rate on grass.  Their unique white faces give them character, which is a reason why they are my breed of choice.

Today I have spent my time, with my husband and youngest son, as they share a mutual interest and a passion for cattle breeding and farming.  I love to see how much joy the agricultural industry brings to both of them.  My entire day was spent assisting them, taking plenty of photos and a lot of watching from the sidelines.

So I share this exclusive photo with you all, from a brief moment taken from my day… as we muster a few bulls to take them to the stockyards.  I enjoy the calmness and the playfulness of these large animals as they interact with each other.  With so much strength and power… yet so placid… they simply amaze me.

Rural Reflection #17…

17 Hereford Bulls On The Move

image subject to copyright

With our recent rainfall, the tropical grasses in these paddocks have been growing well and very quickly; bambatsi, panic, rhodes grass & premier digit.  These summer growing perennial grasses amaze me with how well they respond to rainfall.  However, they are in need of another shower to keep them growing.

I also like this photo as it shows a couple of paddocks that my husband cultivated this week in preparation for growing winter fodder crops.  A few late nights and late dinners until the paddocks were finished.  Farming is seasonal and the day ends when the job ends.

There is no nine-to-five routine.  Farmers just work as is needed.  Some work continues into the night.  But farmers understand that they must feed and clothe our nation, so they do what is needed… when it is needed… to produce the products we all know and love.

Farming is such a gamble… possibly the biggest gambling occupation one could so passionately choose.  Farming relies on rainfall… and consistency of rainfall is very important to grow crops and pastures to feed our livestock.  Rainfall puts water in our dams for livestock survival.  Without rainfall… farming becomes a burden rather than a passion.  Without rainfall… farming is in turmoil.

Farmers never know if they have made the right choice, when they rely so much on rain.  Some crops may fail… which means money gone down the drain.  In February last year, we had planted 3 paddocks with the forecast for good rain coming.  We didn’t even get a drop.  Sadly the crop was a complete failure and did not come up at all.  The cost of seed, fertiliser, tractor fuel and hours of labour…. just burnt up in the heat.  Just wasted our time and money.  It is always a gamble in farming… fortunately, we do get some good times to make it worthwhile.

So with the hope of follow-up rain, we have made this choice to prepare these paddocks for planting.  Now it is a waiting game… waiting in hope for the next shower of rain to give us relief before the winter season arrives.

Despite the tough times presented to us, farmers keep the big picture clear in their minds… the need to produce fresh Australian produce into the future.  The farm work is tough but the satisfaction makes it worthwhile.

So even though, I did not have the weekend off… I found many times within my day that I felt uplifted.  If you allow yourself to see the beauty around you and appreciate the important things in your life… you will feel much more content and whole.

Take care, Karen.

“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops,

but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”

~ Masanobu Fukuoka,

Japanese farmer and philosopher.

Business Marketing is the Key to Success in The New Generation

We never stop learning, at any age, in our forever changing world.  In this digital age and the need to keep up with new technology in business, it is important to maintain and improve our knowledge of applications and marketing tools.  In this process, I attended Tamworth Community College last night for a short course,  Digital Business Basics II.

Nic Hinwood, Director of KEO Design, provided us with additional digital knowledge as a follow-on to the first course Digital Business Basics I where we had learned of branding, online tools, the importance of websites and social media for workplace innovation.  KEO Design is a leading digital design agency based in Tamworth NSW and last night gave us the online power.

As established business professionals, we learned how to compile our own “Business Digital Strategy” by identifying our audience, understanding our business marketing influences and learning to create the most appropriate content for our own business.  We were given tips for keeping on track and analysing our business from a digital perspective.

Great tools and insights for us to apply to our digital presence and marketing strategy into the future.  It is important to keep up with our changing world and the concept of marketing our businesses online.  We need to accept our world is changing and adapt our businesses to suit the digital concept allowing them to evolve.

digital-marketing-1725340__340

With a very small group of only 7 individuals, we had received personalised business advice in a welcoming space at Tamworth Community College with an enthusiastic trainer Nic from KEO Design.  I would recommend both organisations for improving your digital business marketing in this environment.

The opportunity presented itself to meet other business professionals in a variety of industries with a diverse range of digital needs and business advice for each other.  I was introduced to friendly, capable business people providing unique products and services to our local community in the Tamworth region:

  • Cookaburra’s Fine Foods – Barry, an award-winning chef, provides delicious and nutritious home-baked high-quality food at the local Tamworth Growers’ Market on Kable Avenue every Saturday morning.  A selection of mouth-watering delicacies; apple & fig strudels, piroshki, gluten-free friands, lambs fry & bacon, chia puddings with fresh fruit, sourdough, peach pies, smoked salmon & cream cheese bagels, plum & custard tarts and so much more.  Flavoursome fine foods… not to be missed… check it out on his Facebook page for updates.
  • Tamworth Remedial Massage – Sophie & Jacqui, respected caring massage therapists, promoting complete wellness through their massage therapy business profession.  Passion and purpose is the strong motivation guiding them to seek wellbeing for their clients, with regular clients endorsing and upholding the overall benefit to their massage therapy sessions.  With their massage therapy staff each having their own unique styles and specialties, appointments are adapted to suit each client.  Their massage therapy services include remedial massage, deep tissue, oncology massage, lymphatic drainage technique, cupping, reiki, reflexology or an unwinding relaxation massage.  See their website or Facebook page for more information.
  • North West Agrifinance – Sharon, with significant banking and finance experience, is a part of this finance team that offers specialised financial structure and clear business planning to achieve their clients business goals.  They use a strategy to make your finance easy by using a financial health evaluation.  Making a plan to simplify finances by providing a financial and business analysis is a valuable service they offer businesses to maintain or improve their financial security.  Their experienced team values their clients and delivers proactive finance solutions.  For more information see their website or follow them on Facebook.
  • JAMESBUILT Pty Ltd – Michelle, with her paramount of business experience in the building and construction industry, provides Building & Property Services to residential, commercial and rural clients.  A business with extensive skill, paying attention to detail, ensuring quality control, working closely with their clients as they strive for perfection.  Client satisfaction is ensured with projects completed on time and in budget.  If you are in need of an experienced builder, see their website for more information and contact details.
  • Inspirations Cafe, Gift & Patchwork Gallery – Leonie, an experienced patchworker, quilter and sewer, operates a cafe and gift shop in the main street of Tamworth.  Her business has a unique and broad range of gifts and homewares as well as high-quality patchwork fabrics.  Leonie holds classes to teach patchwork, applique, embroidery, fashion and craft… for a variety of ages and skill levels.  Inspirations has a relaxed coffee gallery with home-cooked meals and also offer a catering service.  See her website or Facebook page for more information.
  • Swanvale Herefords – My family owned and operated business located 30km west of Tamworth, breeding soft easy-doing cattle with high-fertility.  Good Hereford cattle genetics are our choice to produce animals with the most efficient weight gain for age, high-performance carcase traits and structural soundness… the essential components in our breeding program.  For more information, please see our farm business website or like/follow us on Facebook.
  • Karen Weller ~ Freelance Writing & Admin Services – My newest business venture providing writing and administration services with honesty and integrity.  I write to convey emotion and connection through my words.  I also bring clarity and organisation to individuals, businesses and organisations, through an efficient and streamlined process.  If you need inspiration brought into your articles to captivate your audience or a professionally organised document or application… please see my business website for more information or see my Facebook page.
  • Country Heart Spark – This is my personal blog where I write honest and open stories and bring insight into our personal lives and farming life.  I bring inspiration into many lives through my writing and encourage inner strength.  I also promote the future of the agricultural industry and connect all regions together in support.  You can ‘follow my blog by email’ to receive my new blog posts, see my website and like me on Facebook.

digital-marketing-1497211__340

When a group of business professionals get together, with a mutual interest of learning to improve their own use of digital marketing with an online presence… remarkable things happen.  The new knowledge, online tips and business ideas has been beneficial and we all look forward to embracing this new means of technology into our generation.  The world wide web offers us so much more opportunity to bring our businesses into the world of many more people.

Thank you to Tamworth Community College and KEO Design for making this learning experience easy and understandable to put into practice.  Sometimes we just need that little bit of encouragement and a simplified process… to have the confidence in our ability to market our own products or services that we each whole-heartedly believe in.

Take care, Karen.

“Content builds relationships.

Relationships are built on trust.

Trust drives revenue.”

~ Andrew Davis

student-849826__340

 

 

 

Launching Swanvale Herefords Website & Web Design Integrity

Our business websites hold such valuable information and are a social media marketing tool for us to share with our industry and beyond.  However, our business websites should not only be for marketing purposes… they should be a true representation of the integrity behind the business, the people representing the business and their fundamental aims and management.

Web design is relatively new to me, but I am loving the creative opportunities we have available with digital marketing.  Design and creativity is the cornerstone of my ability to create and launch our newest website Swanvale Herefords.  I feel that the website depicts our Hereford stud cattle and our farming objectives quite well.  I encourage you to take a look at our website to learn more about what we are all about.

Swanvale Herefords website

Swanvale Herefords is a family owned and operated business on the North-West Slopes near Tamworth NSW.  Our business is focused on breeding horned and polled Hereford cattle.  Our fundamental aim is to breed soft easy-doing cattle with high-fertility.

Whilst I have been in the farming industry all of my life, we were originally commercial based.  Since 2005 we have become more focused on genetics in our cattle stud and continue with genetic progress within our Hereford herd.  It is genetic progress that improves the performance of cattle and gives better opportunities to cattle producers.

Our website Swanvale Herefords is very welcoming and easy to navigate with the menu at the top.  Here you can read about our unique breeding philosophy, our on-farm management and our production focus.  There are bull sale results, photos of our stud sires and A.I. sires, as well as an overview of our female breeders.

I have included a useful resources tab on our website for cattle producers and Hereford breeders with information and links to Herefords Australia, Herefords Northern NSW Association and Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA).  These resources provide a wealth of information to the beef producer.

My favourite webpage is the News tab, where I can put any updated information as Swanvale Herefords is involved in any events or news articles.  If you would like to be informed of our news or happenings, please follow our page by clicking on the button in the bottom right corner.

In this digital era, our businesses have so much opportunity with technological advancement and the power of targeting our markets indirectly and without intrusion.  Our business uses the newest technology of Hereford genomics, DNA testing and Breedplan to better meet our customers needs and beef performance.

Our passion for breeding, using sires with improved genetics, is depicted in our website and our business fundamentals are revealed.  Websites are more than just advertising your business and a promotion of your enterprise.  Websites need to reveal the people behind the scenes, inform potential customers of your product or services and allow readers to understand the integrity of your business.

SVH logo

I believe digital marketing is all about honesty and connecting with people.  As a stud breeder, our background in commercial cattle gives us a real understanding of meeting markets and putting dollars in beef producers pockets into the future.

I do hope you check out our new business website and feel free to let me know if you think there is something more that our business needs to offer our customers.  At this stage, my website is complete but will be added to as relevant news stories and bull sale information comes to hand.

To view my newest website, please see Swanvale Herefords.

Take care, Karen.

“Integrity is doing the right thing.

Even when no one is watching.”

~ C.S Lewis

 

 

 

How Ironclad Organisations Empower You With a Sense of Pride?

What a jam-packed but empowering week!  From business meetings and training forums, personal growth events and social outings, I am feeling mentally exhausted yet strong and uplifted.  Involvement with renowned voluntary organisations and business training has released empowerment upon my own life and allowed my authenticity to flow.

MONDAY:

Excitement with prize-winners at Wanthella Group CWA Cookery and Handicraft Day at Kootingal.  An interesting day where the elite cooking skills are tested in competition by entering delicious baking at Group level, as per the state cooking schedule of the Country Women’s Association of NSW.

Our CWA branch, Tamworth Evening branch, had 22 cooking entries with 14 place-getters on the day and 5 winning entries to go to CWA State Conference in May.  I received a First Prize for my Chocolate Sponge.  Our branch also took home several trophies.

The Handicraft Competition displayed intricate work handmade by some very clever ladies.  My friend entered her gorgeous crotchet dragonfly baby blanket and a 3-piece crochet baby set.  I admire the handicraft skills of these women.

Whilst judging occurred, CWA members had the opportunity to listen to a talk about bees and honey production.  The bee-keeping industry was fascinating, very informative and an interesting discussion was presented.  Honey is the primary product studied by CWA this year.

My involvement with CWA makes me feel enthusiastic and passionate, as their aims resonate with me personally.  I am proud to be part of a well-renowned organisation that makes a difference by improving the lives of women and their families.  Personally, I also like the friendships I have developed, the knowledge I have gained and the forum provided giving women a voice to make positive changes.

Later that night, I attended a Toastmasters meeting, another renowned organisation aimed at developing confidence, leadership and public speaking skills.  I delivered my second heartfelt speech reflecting upon my personal experience with this heartbreaking drought, the emotional challenges and the community support.  I was awarded the “Best Speaker” award on the night, so after sharing my heart-wrenching thoughts, I felt pride that my audience was able to resonate with my words.

After I shared my personal experience, many people thanked me for allowing my vulnerability to show in an effort to connect with people.  What I found… was that there are so many kind people in this world, compassionate and understanding people.  Tamworth Toastmasters is a wonderful club, with a group of individuals that encourage personal development with public speaking skills, in a very supportive environment.

TUESDAY:

My husband and I attended a Southern Beef Technology Services (SBTS) Breedplan Regional Forum in Armidale NSW.  Breedplan is a cattle industry based genetic evaluation of stud stock.  As a seedstock producer, producing Hereford stud bulls, this day was very informative and provided an update and useful information for Breedplan Fundamentals.  Sometimes a reminder on why we measure the traits on our cattle and how it all comes together is very intriguing.  I believe we are never to old to learn and we have the ability to continue learning throughout our entire lives.

On the way back home, later that night, we attended a NSW Farmers’ Association meeting at Tamworth.  An ironclad organisation that brings farmers and agricultural enthusiasts together to discuss the challenges faced and identify issues within the agricultural industry.  I am proud to be a supporter of this renowned organisation making a difference in securing the future of our primary industries in Australia.

At the AGM, I ended up taking on the role of Treasurer, for an organisation I believe whole-heartedly in.  In a voluntary capacity, individuals accept executive roles within prominent organisations, as a sense of pride empowers the connection to their distinguished aims and objectives.

WEDNESDAY:

Back to Armidale for Day 2 of Breedplan Fundamentals, to learn more about the role of genomics and DNA of our stud stock.  Producing bulls is no longer just a business, it is a scientific progression of producing better livestock through DNA advancements.  Over the last few years, I have found breeding cattle very interesting, as we have accepted the new technological opportunities presented to us and put it into action.

Our business is Swanvale Herefords and we focus on breeding cattle with a quiet temperament, good weight for age, carcase and maternal traits.  Our fundamental aim is to produce soft easy-doing cattle with structural soundness and long deep-bodied cattle with plenty of thickness that perform well on grass.  With the adoption of DNA and genomics, we have a greater opportunity to meet the needs of our clients in the livestock industry.

THURSDAY:

Drought feeding livestock eventuated at a more reasonable hour today… in the daylight hours and not quite as rushed.  But then followed by personal dentist appointments and health appointment, necessary to retain our personal health and well-being.

Later that night, I enjoyed a Flavourista social event, hosted by a new friend with deliciously cooked dishes by Sarah.  An organisation that blends flavours and cultures… with tantalising spices, balsamic vinegars, unique oils, flavoursome syrups and dessert sauces.  I already have a few favourites and am enjoying cooking new dishes with the ease of these new items in my pantry.

Friendships and connecting with other women is empowering in itself.  But sharing stories and conversation over the dinner table, brings a powerful element to enjoying the fresh food that our agricultural industry provides us every day.

FRIDAY:

A few hours in the office whilst hubby feeds the hungry livestock, before heading to Willow Tree for a Practical Systems information field day.  An organisation that provides computer programs for livestock manageability, farm mapping and financial management of our businesses.  The objective for the day was utilising Stockbook functionality, a herd recording software program, that can collect data, analyse reports and improve herd productivity.

With a presentation and information provided by Practical Systems, we were able to discuss issues that we would like added to the program and were able to see the program being used at the stockyards with Live Data Entry.  I was able to see the opportunity we could have by making a few changes to better utilise this program at the stockyards when scanning, weighing, drafting and preg-testing livestock.  The possibilities enlightened me and I look forward to better time-management with this incredible technology on the farm.

I am a satisfied user of Practical Systems software for many years and am grateful that technology has provided our business with the programs to better manage our business over the years.  Stockbook is a database of all livestock that we own and have owned, that has all historical records available at the touch of a button.  I use Cashbook for the financial management of our business, budgeting and accountant-based livestock trading accounts.  We also use FarmMap for property mapping, paddock management, crop allocation and proposed on-farm planning.  Technological advancement has provided the agricultural industry with the software to better manage our farming enterprises.

SATURDAY:

After an exhausting and mentally advanced week, I lay in bed this morning listening to the much-needed rain that finally opened upon us in the early hours this morning.  The best rain we have seen on our farm for over 2 years… uplifted our spirits… giving us hope again.

The organisations in our lives that provide us with connection, training, knowledge, friendships or personal development… all have a place in our hearts and minds.  These organisations do give us a sense of belonging and empowerment in many aspects of our lives.

We all need to find those organisations and businesses that meet our aspirations and grant us opportunities to improve our lives and our well-being.

Take care, Karen.

“We cannot do great things on this earth – only small things with great love.”

~ Mother Teresa

IMG_0343

 

Rural Reflections #14

It may have only been 10mm of rain, but an overall feeling of contentedness… as the rainwater temporarily heals our minds and replenishes our soul.  What is it with that unique fresh smell after rainfall that makes our hearts lighter?  That noise as each drop falls, cleansing our thoughts and easing our worries.  We see an image of freshness and passionately see a vision of hope.  The smell with a crispness in the clean air as the dust is washed away from our hearts.

Diverse landscapes are a common feature across the New England and North West region of NSW in Australia.  This region is located in the north of the state and west of the Great Dividing Range.  This region covers a total area of about 99,145 square kilometres or 12.4% of NSW and is home to 186,200 people.

Agricultural land in the New England and North West region occupies 79,364 square kilometres or 80% of the region.  The agricultural sector in the region includes important commodities, based on the gross value of agricultural production, were cattle ($687 million), cotton ($650 million) and wheat ($482 million).   These commodities contributed to 60% of the total value of agricultural production in the region.

Rocky ridges are very common in this region along with rich basalt soils.  Our property alone has quite a diverse array of landscapes, vegetation and farmland.  From red and chocolate basalt soils, river loams, to a few granite outcrops and steeper vegetated valleys.  The Australian agricultural regions can be very divergent.

Today I share with you a photo taken last week following 10mm of rain.  The only rain we had seen for almost 2 months.  This is a part of my view from the kitchen window every day.  I like this photo as it fills me with a sense of hope that the rain in the eastern hills may come again.  This is a rocky ridge near the boundary of our property.  The large rocks in this bull paddock show how disparate our terrain can be.

Rural Reflection #14…

17 March 2019

image subject to copyright

There are 2 Hereford bulls grazing after the light shower of rain that settled the dust.  This photo also overlooks a part of the neighbouring property and shows horses in a distant paddock in the background.  We did not receive any more rain this week, but the feeling and smell of rain were temporarily relished.

This morning I have spent my time baking cakes and a slice for a CWA function.  I do always enjoy my view from the kitchen window even when it is dry.  I always find the beauty within an image and appreciate the smaller things in life.

I imagine myself sitting upon that large rock protruding from the earth… relaxing and appreciating the beautiful views around us.  One day… the drought will break and nutritious green pastures will surround us again.

Until then, I will still focus on the beauty that remains within my life.  I still have a wonderful family to love, a passion for writing to share, a motivation for personal growth and a vision to inspire others every day in their lives.

Take care, Karen.

“Rain has healing powers.

It can wash away your worries

and cleanse your soul.”

~ Author Unknown.

 

Rural Reflections #12

Why do we do what we do in our business or working life?  Why do farmers battle the current drought despite the significant implications upon their physical and emotional well-being?  I am here to tell you why!  Put simply… a genuine passion, a love for the agricultural industry and a determination in the viability of producing food and fibre to secure the economic future of Australia.

I was raised in a family in a rural area, with a father that had farming blood in his veins and a mother that supported this lifestyle entirely.  Hereford cattle and horses were a dominant part of our upbringing.

Then at the age when love determines our future choices, I married a man that lived for farming.  25 years later his passion is still burning… for breeding cattle.  Similarly, this genuine passion now resides with our youngest son.

This is the same scenario for many farming families… generation after generation.  This burning passion for the rural lifestyle and scientific business of breeding and trading livestock or growing commodities to feed our nation into the future.  This passion is what motivates farmers to battle the tough times of drought and rebuild following natural disasters.  The focus on the good times is what gets us through.

So for my family, we focus on times when pastures are rich and livestock are at their best production.  Financially, farming is always going to be a rollercoaster, a cycle of ups and downs according to seasons and markets.  That is something that all producers understand and are willing to embrace.

The drought has become an enormous burden for us at the moment, just like many farmers across the local region and beyond.  Without a drop of rain last month and 2mm of rain last night… we continue to find the strength to believe that one day it will break.

The remaining cattle and sheep on our property will all rely upon us a little longer… to feed them hay to meet their nutrition requirements and provide clean water.  Livestock welfare is the top priority in a drought and producers do what needs to be done, regardless of their financial constraints.  Animal health programs and biosecurity is at the core of our farming businesses, through all seasons.

Today, I would like to reflect upon the Hereford cattle industry specifically.  Although I have been involved in farming all of my life and our farming enterprises have changed a little over the years, Hereford cattle has always been at the centre of our business management.

As I attended a meeting yesterday with fellow Hereford breeders across the local region, I am reminded of the mutual passion and commitment that these producers bring to our livestock industry.  Good-hearted, kind, caring human-beings… all fighting their own battles, yet can come together, plan and move forward in our industry.

Our focus was on the organisation and planning for the Glen Innes Annual Hereford Bull Show & Sale on 25-26 July 2019.  These producers have many years of breeding genetics tied up in producing Hereford bulls, so this drought may provide a big hurdle, but the future of the industry relies heavily on ensuring production continues.

Hereford cattle are renowned for their quiet temperament, excellent feed conversion, high fertility rates, hardiness and growth rates.  Cattle producers across the nation, value the effectiveness of Hereford cattle for productivity, performance and manageability.

As 3rd generation Hereford breeders, our primary focus for the last 25 years has been breeding commercial Hereford cattle with the introduction of stud females purchased in 2005.  Our business is Swanvale Herefords and our enterprise focuses on breeding both horned and polled Hereford cattle with a quiet temperament, good weight for age, carcase and maternal traits.

Our fundamental aim is to produce soft easy-doing cattle with structural soundness and long deep-bodied cattle with plenty of thickness.  We also focus on producing cattle to perform well on grass, to ensure that they will perform well in any herd under any conditions.

Today I share with you, this photo… that truly symbolises our passion in this business.  It was taken back in April 2017, in a good season.  It shows young Hereford bulls relaxing on the green pasture and contently growing to become future sires in the industry.

Rural Reflection #12…

12 Young Hereford Bulls Relaxing On The Green

image subject to copyright

I love this photo for the contrasting colours and the representation it brings to our business.  The docility of the young Hereford bulls as they contently watch us drive on by.  The rich red colour in their hides and the clean white faces giving them all a unique look.  They lay upon the green flat, comfortable and at ease.  The blue sky above with its pure white cloudy ornamental pattern… makes this photo very appealing to the eye.

The science of using our breeding genetics to produce the type of animal, that will benefit other producers herds and increase their revenue… is the motivation behind our business.  It is this passion that all Hereford breeders possess and a desire to improve the bottom line for all cattle producers.  The Hereford industry uses genomics and DNA technology in the breeding process and production of their animals.  This technology gives us genetic merit and ensures the performance of Hereford cattle into the future.

Although the season is dim and our hopes are limited, we know that the future of the livestock industry must be sustained.  As Hereford producers breeding future stud sires, there are years of genetics and work input to produce these efficient animals.  We must look beyond the present situation in the effort to continue our production for the future of the livestock industry.

For more information on Hereford cattle, see Herefords Australia.

Take care, Karen.

“Unless you have bad times,

you can’t appreciate the good times.”

~ Joe Torre

Paddock to Plate Using Unique Virtual Reality Technology

Australian’s have become more interested in where and how their food is actually produced and processed.  Now there is a unique roadshow, bringing farm production and the red meat supply chain, direct to students.

The “Paddock to Plate” concept has emerged all over the nation over the last several years.  Through education, the “Paddock to Plate” movement places an emphasis on the quality and sustainability of Australian grown food products.

The way we engage with food has changed.  Customers want to know where their food has been grown and how it has been produced right along the supply chain.  As a farmer, it is rewarding to see that people not only care about the food that they buy… but they care about the growers and farmers.  We are fortunate as Australians, to have access to high-quality, clean, safe and nutritious food.  Australian farmers produce 93% of Australia’s daily domestic food supply, making us the 6th most food secure nation.

Australian Good Meat is an online platform created by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) on behalf of the red meat and livestock industry.  It provides information about the production of cattle, sheep and goats, with a primary focus on animal welfare, health, nutrition and protecting the environment.  Good Meat allows producers to demonstrate their commitment to red meat production and their high-quality produce as an important part of a healthy balanced diet.

Last month was the start of the launch of the Think Digital School Tour… the Australian Lamb Paddock to Plate roadshow, heading off on a 3-month journey to educate school students across our nation.  It uses engaging 360-degree 3-dimensional virtual reality technology, allowing students to experience real farming tasks and understand the supply chain.  It is a unique opportunity to put on a virtual reality headset and experience lamb production from the comfort of their truly unique coach.

It shows how Australia produces the world’s most sought-after Lamb, from the farmer through to the consumer.  The unique experience takes participants into the world of Australian sheep farming, transportation, processing and the end markets, such as butchers and restaurants.  This really is a great concept making it very relevant to food production today.

This is similar to the Australian Beef Paddock to Plate story that was launched in 2017 at EKKA Brisbane (Royal Queensland Show) and then showcased throughout 2018.  This roadshow focused on telling the story of Australian beef production using the same engaging virtual reality resources.   It allows students an experience that would normally be restricted due to occupational work health and safety standards on the farm and in processing establishments.

The “Paddock to Plate” platform engages people at a grass-roots level… consumers and producers.  New ventures are promoting sustainable agriculture and have allowed for Australian foods to be showcased across our many regions.  This technology is opening up the farm gate for consumers to see first hand the importance of producing such high-quality food for our nation.

Take care, Karen.

Video Credit: YouTube / Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) / Australian Good Meat.

“Technology will not replace great teachers

but technology in the hands of great teachers

can be transformational.”

~ George Couros

 

 

 

Farming: A Passion or a Burden

What a challenge to be farming in Australia… with the current heartbreaking drought and then the recent Queensland flood crisis.  It is with heartfelt empathy, understanding and support of strangers that farmers value the care within the community.

This week I have been speaking about farming, the challenges with extreme weather events and the kind generosity within the community.  I had my first speech assignment at Tamworth ToastMasters on Monday night, and then on Wednesday at C.W.A Wanthella Group Council Meeting at Uralla.  Two organisations and two speeches later… agriculture and the environment has been the topic and is still at the forefront of my mind.  Now I shall share my thoughts with you too.

summer-2391348__340

Agriculture is all around us and a part of everybody’s lives… from the food we eat, the clothes we wear and the water we wash with.  The agricultural industry is an industry worth sustaining for the future food security of our beautiful and clean nation.

Drought is nothing new, but a normal challenge that farmers experience over certain years.  But this is the worst drought in 100 years.  Not only the severity of the dry spell, but the length of time that farmers have endured to date.  The problem is that this drought is so widespread across our country, that farmers options have become far too limited, so their structured “Drought Management Plans” fail to deliver.  Agistment is not an option in this drought, due to the widespread effect, so farmers are forced to sell their livestock or feed the remaining core breeders.

Sadly the ongoing drought is devastating for Australian farmers, as they struggle daily to keep up with the physical demands of feeding their remaining livestock and carting water.  Farmers are working 7 days a week, are feeling exhausted and families are suffering.  Farming has temporarily become a burden, rather than a passion.

The financial strain is consuming our farmers, with increasing farm loans to purchase feed (which has more than doubled in price), the cost of updating or maintaining water infrastructure, machinery maintenance, livestock husbandry costs… let alone the general living expenses and medical bills of their families.  All with no income.

When farmers do not have the money to spend in town, the drought then impacts the local businesses.  The devastating effects of drought, may first consume the farmer… but like a domino effect… everyone is suffering.

The mental anguish torments farmers… as they worry about keeping their stock, not only alive, but productive.  Stressing about how they will pay that next feed bill without any income.  Wondering how to keep strong for their families sake.  Of course mental health is going to be a concern.  Farmers are mostly resilient and somehow manage to cope… but there are organisations that are available to farmers when needed.

One of the main things keeping farmers sane… is seeing the kind support of the Australian community.  The empathy and compassion shown to farmers, has been incredibly uplifting.

hands-2888625__340

The Australian culture is to naturally help people in need.  Our community spirit and generosity has emerged during this prolonged drought crisis… and it is this that gives farmers the strength and motivation to survive.  We have seen community groups, businesses and individuals… rally for our farmers and support the future of the agricultural industry.

It is the emotional support through these action, that motivate farmers to stay focused despite their livelihood and future being so uncertain.  The monetary donations have assisted farmers financially or the few bales of hay may feed some livestock for a few days.  But the real value is multiplied… knowing that people care about farming… care about our future food security and care about the industry as a whole.  It is just knowing that people do care and want to help.  Farmers are sincerely thankful for this.

Everyone sees photos of hungry stock, parched farmland and stressed farmers in the media…  but the farmer lives it every day, still putting on a brave face.  Farming is a gamble that does rely heavily on the weather.

My heart goes out to the Queensland farmers with the recent flood crisis.  Struggling with drought for many years… then the devastation of flooding.  Nobody could have prepared for this.  More than 500,000 cattle were killed as a result of the Queensland flood and another 150,000 struggling to survive.  With the flood, the cold weather, the mud and no feed… many cattle faced their last moments filled with fear and panic.  Farmers care about the welfare of their livestock… so this has been an incredibly emotional time for them.

Nobody expected the onset of the much-needed rain… to turn into a major disaster.  As the water dried up… just imagine the catastrophe that unfolded.  Farmers feeling helpless as their livestock are washed away due to weakness.  Fences washed away completely or needing major repairs.  Scattered livestock, bogged in mud and dying.  Farmers having to put down some of their livestock to be humane.  Dead animals everywhere.  The emotional task of cleaning up is enormous and overwhelming.

Rain does not normally produce sadness, it is usually welcomed by farmers.  But not in excess causing such devastation.  Once again, Australians rally together to support our farming communities in dire need.  Their compassion, assistance and kind support come unconditionally.  Sometimes the farmer’s gratitude remains unspoken, due to embarrassment or strength of character.  But farmers are truly thankful to the community for their true Aussie compassion and support.

Farmers do have an underlying passion for farming and a commitment to secure the future of the Australian agricultural industry.  We are all connected through agriculture and we are all in this together.  It is the community trust and support, that has become the real saviour.

Farmers are finding the strength and determination to continue to feed and clothe our nation into the future.  One day their resilience will allow for the burden to lift and the passion to be restored.

Take care, Karen

straw-bales-726976__340

“A kind gesture can reach a wound

that only compassion can heal.”

~ Steve Maraboli