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

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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

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Rural Reflections #10

Drought is draining us all on the land.  Farming has temporarily become a burden rather than a passion.  Our physical ability is feeling strained to keep up with the on-farm tasks and everyday feeding of livestock and carting water for their basic needs.  The financial burden and commitment to pay interest on the increasing debt, upgrading water infrastructure, medical costs and general living expenses has become overwhelming.  The mental anguish torments us within… wondering how we will pay that next feed bill without any income… wondering how we keep strong for our families sake… and still remain sane enough to feel grateful when the community empathises in support with us all.

I am feeling somewhat overwhelmed this morning and finding a way to clear my mind to appreciate farming life once again.  Most probably due to the fact that we are out of tank water again.  Why does that always happen on a weekend and at night-time just when you need a shower?  Getting ready to wash up last night… and then it hits me… I really fall apart when we have no running water.

I am horrible for a moment… I unfairly speak harshly to my husband… why did he not check the tank a few days ago when I asked him.  Then I feel guilty because it is not his fault that the water runs dry right at this very moment.  He has so much to do every single day on the farm… tank water probably was furthest from his mind.

Fortunately, we pack up a few things and drive to my son’s place just so we can have a shower and brush our teeth last night.  Lucky he is very close-by.  It is frustrating when you run out of tank water on the farm.  Short showers are the norm anyway and saving water in buckets as the shower water warms up, has become a habit… every drop is so very precious.  No water to not only cleanse after a hard day’s work on the farm… no water to flush the toilet or wash our hands.  We then revert to a few bottles of drinking water in the fridge… feeling almost wasteful to wash our hands and brush teeth this morning, with our clean drinking water.

Hoping another load of water is delivered very soon and trying to keep sane in the meantime.  I am staying in the office today and avoiding anything outside.  It will be good to catch up on some office work, when I get my head in the right space shortly.  My poor husband will be left once again to feed and water the livestock by himself.  He seems so much more resilient than me.  He doesn’t freak out when we run out of water, unlike me being overcome with anxiety and worry.

So today I would like to share this photo with you… of what I will be avoiding today… the usual drought feeding ritual.  As my husband sets out to feed up and satisfy these hungry cattle in an effort to keep future production on our property… these trusting animals calmly await his arrival.

Rural Reflection #10…

10 Swanvale Kerry Maid P823

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This photo was actually taken in July 2018 when the calves were very young and the mothers struggle a little more to be able to lactate to meet their babies nutritional needs.  Now, this calf has grown up into an 8-month-old calf weaned from its mother, facing life as a replacement heifer in our herd.  A heifer is a young female cow that has not born a calf.  She is a beautiful Hereford calf and her registered name is SWANVALE KERRY MAID P823.  She will grow into a lovely cow one day, producing calves of her very own.

I really like this photo because of the bittersweet image it depicts.  It shows drought feeding which has been an emotional and physically tiring journey, but of significant importance.  But it also shows a beautifully-marked calf with inquisitive trusting eyes.  I also like the little twig of hay protruding from her cute little mouth, quite casually, but looking almost staged.

Despite the stress and hardship farmers suffer in this drought, the reason we keep going is an underlying passion for farming and a commitment to secure the future of the Australian agricultural industry.  It is the trust that the community holds in us all through their support, mateship and empathy… that gives us the strength to persist in a tough industry.  So thank you Australia for your trust and support!

Take care, Karen.

“The support you receive from others throughout life is essential.

It is like the right amount of oxygen to keep the embers of a fire glowing.”

~ Alexander Bentley, Poet

Gratitude: A Somewhat Silent Expression

How much gratitude have you seen during the current devastating drought, the raging bushfires and the severity of floods in our very diverse nation called Australia?  How does one return from the mortifying emotional, physical and financial loss in our agricultural industry?  Despite the disastrous effects surrounding our every being, you can see the gratitude everywhere.  But you must look past the obvious and observe the more delicate ways that gratitude is expressed.

How can our one single country be experiencing these extreme gut-wrenching weather events?  From flooding in Northern Queensland, to bushfires in northern NSW and Tasmania… and drought almost everywhere we see.  The horrid effects that weather is casting upon our hardworking farmers in crisis, is none other than mass devastation and loss.

But beneath all the heartache, there is a flicker of hope.  A hope that is yearned for, day after day.  With one foot in front of the other, farmers are finding the strength to face the struggles and battle to sustain the future of agriculture in Australia.  Gratitude is expressed in two very different ways and is an absolute reflection on either side from city to country.

We see everyday Australians of all ages, adults and children alike… dig into their piggy banks and savings to throw our farmers a lifeline.  We see donations of canned food, toiletries, water, anything at all… just to show appreciation in a gratifying way.  Many charities step up to take on the challenge of distributing these donated funds and grocery supplies, as the liaison to unite the efforts of the Australian people.

To see the gratitude within the community and the heartfelt actions of lifting the spirits of our farmers, is genuinely profound.  To understand that communities care about farmers, the food they produce, the fibres they yield… and feeding and clothing our beautiful nation, suddenly became of utmost importance and the compassion is sincere.  These actions alone proved that the mental state and future of our farmer’s wellbeing, was accepted with gratitude by a compassionate nation and then a sense of obligation was accepted warmly.

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On the flip side… the farmer’s hearts are breaking, surrounded with the burden of loss and devastation… yet they are overwhelmed with gratitude and appreciation to the community and charities holding them afloat and trying to power their natural farming spirit again.  The silence in this case, can be as quiet and non-existent unless you look beneath the emotional surface.  As a farmer presented with a natural disaster accepts some form of assistance… the guilt in their own mind can be over-powering, they can feel unaccomplished or unsuccessful in their usual farming operations and ashamed to have accepted the help.  However, beneath that tough exterior, it is visible but camouflaged in disguise… the gratitude is rampant.

Gratitude is expressed silently in that sad and solemn expression… an expression that is only seen by very few.  Gratitude is depicted as the farmer’s head falls into his callous hands or as he wipes those tears of relief from his cheeks.  Gratitude falls into his burden of work as he feeds his hungry stock and is somewhat overlooked until the day he manages to comprehend the specific degree of gratitude, as he digs himself from that hole consuming his life.  It is then that we see that honest, hearty grace that he feels indebted to.

The thankfulness exists within each and every farmer, but expression is limited, through farming workload and the disastrous burden that has impacted their lives and the welfare of their family.  The warmth and cordial emotions surrounding farmers at the moment is overflowing with acknowledgment and recognition of an industry they are so passionate about.

The Australian community is empathetic, compassionate and resilient… and the division diminishes as disastrous events unite our nation.  With heartfelt thoughts and actions, it allows the gratfulness to emerge.  I am proud to be part of the Australian community and I am proud to be a farmer supporting our agricultural industry.  Gratitude is what makes our nation unique and it is the kindness in ordinary people that make us extraordinary.

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Thank you to the farmers that work to feed and clothe our nation.  And thank you to all those beautiful people, businesses and charities that support farmers and rural industries.  If you eat food and wear clothes, you are supporting the agricultural industry.  So thank you!

Take care, Karen.

“Gratitude drives happiness.

Happiness boosts productivity.

Productivity reveals mastery.

And mastery inspires the world.”

~ Robin S. SharmaCanadian Writer

on leadership, personal growth and life management.

#feb_gratitude  

#greatblogchallenge

@writally

Rural Reflections #5

Loyalty, trust, love and hope… is at the heart of why farmers bear the burden of drought year after year.  Loyalty to our passion in life, our love for the agricultural industry and our love for our family.  This is what motivates us to keep on going, implement our drought management plans and ensure our nation’s future food security.

We trust our agricultural industry to survive so we can continue to feed our great nation and the rest of the world.  We hold hope for a better season as we face hardship and worry every single day.  Farmers love what they do… they care for their livestock, they take pride in managing the land beneath them and they trust in what they are doing to help feed and clothe our nation.

Today I am sharing this photo with you, taken in November 2018, only 2 short months ago.  Our land has suffered the effects of drought, as we had a very dry start to 2018, with the driest first half of a year on record.  Our average annual rainfall is 673mm (26 inches), but in 2018 we only received about half of that… 369mm (14 inches), only 17mm more than the lowest annual rainfall on record.

In the month of November alone, we received 106mm (4 inches)… which had given us hope.  Hope for a break in the dry season and hope for some relief for the land, the livestock and for us.  Sadly it didn’t last for long, but nevertheless, there is light at the end of this tunnel… finally.

Rural Reflection #5…

05 Eager Hereford Breeders Follow With Excitement

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As in stock management, a new paddock awaits this mob of cows and this photo depicts their excitement as the movement takes place.  A failed forage crop (on the left), planted in February last year, raises its head with the much-anticipated moisture.  Following every big drought, now we have the threat of weeds, invading paddocks that were once pasture.  But through on-farm management, weeds can be controlled, once some rainfall is received.  And those clouds above us hold hope that rain may be coming.

As we drive in front of the cattle, calling them to a new paddock… the hot, dry and dusty conditions were not restraining them at all.  I love this photo because it shows the natural quiet nature of Hereford cattle, the ease of stock movement and the trust that these beautiful breeders have in us.  They trust us to provide them with feed to meet their nutritional requirements.  They trust us to provide them with healthy clean water to drink.  They trust us entirely, as they follow eagerly without apprehension, as they contemplate what paddock may await them next.

So even with the over-bearing drought effects and the long-term process to farm business recovery… our loyalty to these animals and our industry drives us every day.  It is with the love of farming, that we do hold hope for a better season to fall upon us soon.

Take care, Karen.

“Loyalty is what makes us trust,

Trust is what makes us stay,

Staying is what makes us love,

and love is what gives us hope.”

~ Glenn van Dekken  

This Is Why Farmers Thanks For Drought Donations Are Concealed

Farmers are truly thankful to you all, for the drought assistance being provided by donations from members in the community, in city and country.  It has been brought to my attention, that some people have not noticed farmers acknowledgement of thanks upon receiving financial assistance and care packages during this drought.  This really saddened me, as this has not been my experience at all.  So I thought I should state a couple of facts and share some understanding.

Through the generous donations of individuals and businesses, charities have been able to distribute financial assistance in the current drought.  Farmers are receiving hay donations, bags of dog food for farm working dogs, financial assistance for household bills, care packs, bags of grocery items and mental health support.  The drought assistance is still available to those farmers in need.

The process starts with a person in the city or country donating a little cash or some grocery items.  The charities are then responsible for distributing the donations through financial assistance, bales of hay, grocery packs, fuel vouchers or food vouchers.  Each charity differs on how and what assistance is provided to primary producers.  The farmer is in direct contact with the charity of their choice.

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Some producers are too proud to even ask for assistance so will battle on independently.  The farmers that do anxiously ask for support are usually so embarrassed or feel immeasurable shame.  They don’t have money to feed their stock or even their families.  They are ashamed that they cannot feed their working dog any longer.  Some farmers are feeling a sense of failure in their industry, despite weather being out of their control.

They are mortified to even be in this position to accept help.  Charities, volunteers and mental health professionals are left with the task to convince farmers of their worth and change their mindset.  It is not a failure to accept help when needed.

Thank you letters and personal thankfulness is shown every single day to the charities distributing the donations.  The charities then through newspapers, television and social media share some stories and the gratefulness that is received.  But due to privacy, they are unable to be too specific.

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You may not see the thanks in public very often, but the person distributing the assistance generally gets a front row seat to see the farmer in tears and receives the thanks personally.  This cannot be shared with the community.  But rest assured, farmers have been ever so grateful for this support from the community.

With charities being so busy, maybe there has not been enough of the gratitude shared.  Maybe when things get back on track for everyone, time will be available for reflecting on this.  In the meantime, believe me, farmers are thankful and are showing their sincere appreciation.  Some producers have sent letters to the Editor of many newspapers, thanking the community members and charities for their support.

I am a farmer and have received drought support.  Like all farmers in my position affected by drought, I don’t like to tell everyone.  I do feel embarrassed.  But I have written a letter of thanks to the charity, to show my gratefulness and appreciation of the support I received, also noting the meaningful donations from community members.  My letter has been used in their social media and on their webpage, after asking me would I allow it.  My name was not included and I was happy for my personal story to assist them in return.

I would like to provide some links below to show that farmers are appreciative of the help they receive in the current drought.  It is with the support of community, that farmers continue to do what needs to be done… to feed and clothe our nation.

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Thankfully farmers have that support, financially but more importantly mentally.  Do not under-estimate the real value of your support.  To know that people care about the agricultural industry and to secure the future… is the biggest support we need.

I do not specifically endorse any single charity, but fully support all drought assistance and their intentions.  I have provided the links below for real Testimonials of thanks and more drought assistance information:

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Each and every one of these above charities have received many letters of thanks from farmers.  Some may have published them, some may have not, due to privacy implications.  Volunteers have experienced personal emotional connections of gratitude from farmers and stories have been shared with a sense of appreciation and understanding.

Although it may not be seen in the public eye, farmers are very thankful for the financial and emotional support being provided during this difficult time coping with drought.  It is truly Australian “to have each other’s back” and unite city and country at this time.  So thank you Australia.

Take care, Karen.

“A small group of determined and like-minded people

can change the course of history”

~ Gandhi

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Drought Support for Farmers is Valued

At the end of the day… people won’t remember what you said or what you did… but people will remember how you made them feel.  They remember that you made them feel loved, safe, reassured, calm or hopeful.

The ongoing drought support from Australians have made farmers feel cared for, understood and valued.  It has given us the strength to battle on and reminded us of the importance of sustaining the agricultural industry.

Empathy is a fundamental aspect of humanity and the need for individuals to share their compassion has been seen on such a large scale this year.  The power of empathy is an action and ability to be compassionate and commit to relieving another’s suffering, also giving satisfaction to the provider to be able to make a difference.

Drought support has been vital and valued, whether it be monetary donations to charities, grocery items, emotional connections on Facebook or mental health support from charities and other organisations.  Farmers can’t thank the Australian community enough and portray the extent to which this is valued.  For every donated $1 value, the significance is multiplied to benefit the farmers by way of emotional support and affirmation to the industry.

Social media has provided a new platform for the emotional connection with complete strangers.  A platform that harnesses new friendships and still allows an understanding and connection never seen before.  The support provided to farmers is irreplaceable.  New friendships have been formed as farmers are emotionally connecting with empathetic strangers.

The power of this charitable support, through everyday Australians, has been enlightening for the agricultural industry and farmers in general.  To see the volume of people and businesses caring so much, proves the manifesto of the importance of empathy in action.  The capacity to show empathy is second nature and truly a wonderful gift in these tough times.

On behalf of all farmers, farming families and the agricultural industry, I want to thank each and every Australian person for their compassion and trust in us.

Take care, Karen.

“An industry that feeds you is an industry worth fighting for.”

~ Tierra Kessler

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Who am I?

Hi, my name is Karen and I am a little shy but friendly.  I am a first-time blogger and have been setting up my new blog on farming challenges and the inspiration within my journey in life.  Undecided and hesitant if I wanted to remain anonymous or be up front and reveal myself.  I stand by what I write and am sincere and honest… so here I am.

Karen 2

I bit about me… I have strong family values and a strong work ethic. Reliability, honesty and self-motivation drives me. My life is devoted to my husband and our 2 adult sons. Their wellbeing is my number one priority. I value the importance of inner harmony and have a passion for personal growth and development.

I grew up on a small farm on the Mid North Coast and have owned properties in the New England and Central West regions before settling on a farm west of Tamworth. Involved with farming all my life, now in my 40’s and children all grown up, it is time for my own passion to be shared. The quiet peaceful lifestyle of farming is satisfying and the value of the hard work on-farm is significant.

Passion for the future of the agricultural industry is at the forefront of my mind and it is my intention to promote this and the connection to all communities nation-wide. I feel strongly that Australian’s care about our domestic food chain and sustaining the farming industry.

I am a member of the Country Women’s Association of NSW, the largest women’s organisation in Australia, and I support their aims to improve the lives of women and their families. Their vision resonates with me, in providing a forum for the voice of all women, encouraging the viability of rural communities and lobbying for change. Values of goodwill, friendship, support and understanding is important to me.

My real passion is personal growth and development, and an inner enthusiasm to inspire others through listening and sharing. By using my writing and this Blog, I intend to encourage others along their life journey as well.

For more information and to visit my website Country Heart Spark, please click here

If you would like to receive my blogs by email or contact me, please click here

To follow me on Facebook, please click here

I hope you enjoy the ride with me.

Take care, Karen