Rural Reflections #30

This is my first Rural Reflections of 2020 so a photo to depict my year gone by and to capture the sheer determination, resilience and hope that farmers try to maintain in drought.  Our personal strength to endure the battle of drought after 2 years and to still have the vision to sustain agriculture into the future.  Livestock that depends on you to feed them and fulfill their nutrition levels and to maintain future productivity.  This photo captures the true essence of WHY we do what we do.

As we head into 2020 with 2 years of drought now under our belt, our motivation is struggling, we have become weary, yet our resilience is bold.  Every single day without slacking off, our cattle need a daily ration.  Without grass in paddocks to satisfy them, their dependability is entirely upon us to ensure their wellbeing is preserved with drought feeding.

It takes time, energy and money to feed our remaining 260 head of cattle.  260 hungry animals need quite a lot of feed to keep them not only alive but productive to produce next year’s calf.  Farmers possess this tenacity to take charge and do what needs to be done with a vision to see their business operations in years to come.  Debt is heavily incurred to ensure the core breeding herd survives.  Sometimes life gets a little hazy with the burden, but with a deep breath and a reminder of WHY we do it… usually is enough to kick us back into gear.

Water is provided from a bore to fill troughs as dams have been dry for a very long time.  Daily checking is required to ensure maintenance is not required and their access to clean water exists for their health.  Farmers care for the wellbeing of their animals as they have a job to do and each breeding animal is producing their progeny for a future purpose.

Today I share with you this photo specifically to capture the trust that our breeding animals have in us, the persistence that exists in farmers and an appreciation for the courage that it takes to endure the tougher times.

This photo was taken by Peter Hardin from an article written by Carolyn Millet from The Northern Daily Leader in December 2019.  This single photo captures so many feelings, experiences and reality below the real surface.  Tough times express a heartfelt reality for my husband and I, which is depicted in a single photo when they visited our property.

What do you see in this photo?  Perhaps a couple on their property with some cows.

Rural Reflection #30…

30 Leader

Photo Credit: Peter Hardin 071119PHF008

Look beyond the obvious to understand.  Yes, a couple on their property with some of their cows is the forefront of a deeper observation.  This photo depicts so much more:

  • A farming couple who passionately preserve an agricultural purpose and a love for the industry.
  • Mutual trust between the breeding stock and farmer.
  • Desolate farmland that won’t survive without moisture.
  • Farm production for future years.
  • Eyes that mask feelings of angst, uncertainty and emotional torment from within.
  • Gratitude that people care about farm production and farmers.
  • Farmers overcome with physical exhaustion and tiredness but masked with a friendly look or smile.
  • Financial strain taking its toll on the farm business and threatening the farmer’s mental health.
  • Decision-makers with an optimistic vision.
  • Quiet Hereford cows doing their job and loving the extra attention while drought feeding.
  • A couple committed to animal wellbeing and missed celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary with a canceled holiday so they could take care of their livestock.
  • Farmers in need of some time out and a little enjoyment.
  • Big hearts and a love for each other, their cattle and for sustaining the agricultural industry.
  • An appreciation for others who show they care through kind words, letters, cards and encouragement.
  • Hope for a better future.

This dry working environment is tough, unpredictable and overwhelming at times.  Yet farmers see their role and the value they bring to supplying food and fibre for our nation.  We have a love-hate relationship with farming during this time.  The depressing feelings can be overwhelming with the physical and emotional struggles during times of drought.

But farmers have a huge WHY within them.  They love what they do and the variety of tasks that they do on the farm.  They see value and purpose in what they do.  That is WHY they do it.

So spare a thought for each other.  We all have our own interests and serve our own purpose in a variety of ways.  Accept all differences, acknowledge everybody’s value and be kind to everyone.  How you treat people is a true reflection of you… and it is important that we try to bring out the best in each other.

Take care, Karen.

“Photography is an art of observation.

It has little to do with the things you see

and everything to do with the way you see them.”

~ Elliot Erwitt

Rural Reflections #28

Life does not get better with chance… it gets better with change.  My life is about to change once again.  Have you been at a crossroads in your life?  Ever wondered which road to take this time?

We never know what is around that corner and we must make changes to move through life and experience interesting opportunities.  Sometimes taking a chance… may just be the change we are looking for.  But we must make it happen.

Drought is overloading us.  Overloading my inner strength.  Overloading my mind.  The battle continues here in Tamworth, without rain, without feed and something is about to change.  Making me question… why we all chip away at it every single day?

I am passionate about the agricultural industry… a future to secure for all Australians.  But I am not giving up… I am about to make a change.  Life is all about choices and decisions… right or wrong… who can say?  It is us that controls our own choices.  The drought may be cracking me around the edges, but it is no way going to break me.

Another choice we make.  Unfortunate but necessary, we are dividing our farming property in two, and we will be selling one block.  Finances can only stretch so far, as we all know over the last 2 years of drought.  So we are down-sizing.

Hubby and I will remain here on one block… farming as usual.  The other block “Porters” will be sold… 1650 acres of land… giving someone else an opportunity to love life here too.  Like many farming decisions, at first, I felt a little disappointed.  Then I felt comfortable with the decision, to have a plan in moving forward.

So whilst my hubby spends the days farming, I have decided to seek off-farm work and bring a new experience into my life.  So many farming families have had to change their circumstances and still feel the struggle every day… juggling off-farm work into their life equation.  But for me, since we are down-sizing, I have an opportunity to share my expertise further, in an industry that I choose.

Have you been making choices and decisions or questioning those choices?  There are many opportunities before us, we just have to figure out what we need to do to make a difference.  But the decision must be right for you, not for those onlookers from the outside.  I am still passionate about this industry and I am still the same person… just making some life changes to work for me.

Today, I share with you this photo of the driveway on my property depicting “Porters” and the drive away to change.  This image is the perfect metaphor for changes in life.  It shows a green barley crop after a shower of rain in June, yet now it has sadly turned to dust.  It is still a nice reminder of how quickly our land changes.

Rural Reflection #28…

28

image subject to copyright

We could sit back, struggle and complain about the drought, but NO.  We can’t control the weather and farming is a gamble at times.  But we do have control over our feelings, reactions and our response.  We made a choice to do what we need to do.

Hubby is happy when on the land… and I am happy when anyone can find that passion within to do what they love.  I believe life is made up of experiences.  My next experience is about to unfold and I am excited.

What choices are you making to ensure you are passionate and committed to your life, inspiring those around you?

Take care, Karen.

“The pessimist complains about the wind;

the optimist expects it to change;

the realist adjusts the sails.

~ William Arthur Ward

Star-Struck by CWA Past State President

I was reduced to being star-struck yesterday… and in-awe with a genuinely interesting conversation with the Immediate Past State President of the Country Women’s Association (CWA), Mrs Annette Turner.  This woman is like a celebrity in my eyes.

A good-hearted, caring, intelligent, captivating woman of many CWA achievements with a great sense of humour.  I have so much respect for her as a woman and in her role as the CWA State President over the last 3 years.

Mrs Annette Turner had been invited as a Guest Speaker to our CWA Wanthella Group Annual Conference and to open the meeting.  Her story-telling conversational-style tone is easy to listen to and very inspiring.  My day was enjoyed immensely.

I presented my lengthy Group Agricultural & Environmental Annual Report and shared my passion for an industry that I care about sustaining.  Respectfully, listening to other fellow members share their reports and reflect on the past year’s achievements and activities.

People often ask… what is so great about CWA?  My personal values align with those aims of CWA.  So for me, it is a significant organisation that makes a difference in the lives of women and their families.  I value the advocacy developed by ensuring women have a platform to share their voice and improve lives.  It also provides a network of supportive women and social friendships in our community.

The sharing of skills and knowledge is also another great benefit.  CWA support within the community in so many aspects, is what makes me very proud to be a part of CWA.

Yesterday, was also the day for CWA Branches to present their written motions of advocacy with voting taking place for the potential inclusion at the CWA Annual State Conference next year.  Our Group discussed and voted on 3 motions that were accepted to move to the State Executive Committee for the motion to policy process.

It is fascinating to see the passion from a single concern, will develop into a motion and possibly become CWA policy to lobby the Government to support the policy and make a change in legislation.  CWA is a very influential organisation with the best interests of the members of our nation at heart.

With the elections taking place, I have been re-elected as the Agricultural & Environmental Officer for Wanthella Group.  Very excited to keep promoting agriculture and the rural industry in our region and beyond.

I felt overwhelmed yesterday when Mrs Annette Turner, complimented me on my report presentation and for my passion in the industry.  This compliment meant so much to me, especially coming from her, a lady that I respect whole-heartedly.

It is nice to compliment people.  That small comment that comes from your lips, may just take a small moment, but can make a massive difference for those listening ears.  That compliment may just last a lifetime, giving someone the confidence and strength to make other decisions in their life.  Remember to be kind to people and treat people the way you want to be treated.

Take care, Karen.

IMG_2179

“Respect is how to treat everyone, not just those you want to impress.”

~ Richard Branson.

 

 

 

Rural Reflections #26

Dusty dry conditions!  Drought conditions continue despite the essential production and on-farm management routines.  Sometimes the depressing elements of drought, makes you feel like giving up and questioning your future in farming.

At what point is enough… enough?  DAY IN… DAY OUT… farm feeding tasks continue, fencing repairs, machinery breakdowns, bills to pay, no income, increased financial strain… the juggle of it all takes its toll.

Yesterday, another decision made… cattle needed multi-vitamin treatments.  Raising their calves, ready for joining to be able to produce next year’s progeny, the drought is making it tougher.  But as a farmer, your livestock are your priority.  Their health is optimal and your future income is in reliant on them for your survival.

Drafting cattle at the stockyards, left me in thick dust and sticky little flies.  The work conditions are questionable in the big dry.  Nevertheless, business as usual.  When we start to stop making decisions, it becomes a problem.  Just make a decision, right or wrong.  It is the decision-making process that will keep us going during these tough times.

Sometimes I do question the workload, the financial burdens, the emotional and physical strain.  It is at this point that I need to remind myself of why.

Why do we keep nutting away at it?  Why do we persevere?  Why?  Why?  Why?

To protect and secure the future of agriculture in our nation.  To ensure Australian food security is sustained.  To hold onto a legacy and an industry that we love.  That is why!

My family simply love Hereford cattle.  They have a passion for breeding quality cattle and producing the desired product.  When you see the passion in their eyes and hope for a future, you mutually fight-the-fight alongside them.

I wanted to share this photo with you today, taken in the stockyards yesterday.  You can see a beautiful mob of baby calves, quietly waiting for the process of their treatments and then to be returned to their mothers in the dry desolate paddock again.

I like this photo because I see hope.  I see farm production.  I see the future of agriculture in its rawest form.  Future sires and future maternal females bearing the signs for breeding beef for our nation.  Amongst these calves are several sets of twins, surviving the toughest conditions yet not knowing any different.

Rural Reflection #26…

26 Calves of Joy

image subject to copyright

The dust swirling in the background significantly depicts working conditions, yet I am grateful to still breathe every day.  It is by focusing on what I am grateful for in my life, that gives me the strength to face the struggles, the decisions and the adversity in my path.

With this photo that I share today, I ask that you see in your life what you are passionate about and remember every single day what you are grateful for.  Gratitude is how we can turn what we have into enough.

It is all in our own mindset.  Conditions are horribly tough on-farm in a drought, it is how we react and respond within ourselves… that is the key.  We cannot control the weather and many other aspects of farming, but we can control our own thoughts and reactions.  Look after yourself and your family.

Take care, Karen

“Those who have the ability to be grateful

are the ones who have the ability to achieve greatness.”

~ Steve Maraboli

Rural Reflections #25

Today I am reflecting from the beautiful coastal city of Port Macquarie as I arrive to attend a seminar… and finally catch my breathe.  A busy couple of weeks I have had, from cows being artificially inseminated as we start our first 2019 A.I. program… as well as meetings, business webinars and… oh… my hubby fractured a rib.

He was mustering cows on the quad bike, and a cow somehow kicked the tyre, and tipped it.  Hubby hit the dirt.  Cow 1 versus Hubby 0.  A late visit to emergency and the dreaded wait… wait… wait.  Finally discovered a fractured rib along with a couple of fainting episodes.  No internal injuries, so very lucky once again.  It just required an overnight stay on his part and plenty of good painkillers.

All of this commotion in such a busy week.  But like everyone else, family must come first.  So my best laid plans began to unravel.  He was unable to travel the distance so soon, therefore I arrived solo in Port Macquarie.  Feeling like it has been a juggling act, but finally I can breathe again.

Two full days and one night, at the Agricultural & Environmental Seminar run by the Country Women’s Association (CWA), will start tomorrow.  I had been looking forward to this annual event as tickets sell so fast that I usually miss out.  But not this time.  But then my plans almost went kaput.  Almost!!!

So as you can see with the photo that I share with you today… I made it to Port Macquarie this afternoon.  I snapped this photo as I strolled along the water’s edge, deep in thought.  My mind wandered.  I enjoyed the smell of the clean, salty air.  Dust-free!  Only a farmer in drought knows the true value in that word… dust-free!

Rural Reflection #25…

IMG_1762

image subject to copyright

It reminded me that as farmers, we take on a mighty workload normally, but the drought has taken its toll upon me.  It wasn’t until I was walking here, that it struck me… that we all need a break.  A break from drought feeding.  A break from worrying excessively.  A break to really breathe again.

A short half hour walk, with the spectacular coastal views, cleared my mind.  It reminded me, that self-care is important.  We tend to all get caught up in our busy lifestyles, business commitments and family routines, that we forgot to look after ourselves.

I like this photo with the purple flowers in the foreground and the rocky embankment holding those cool waters.  A short walk that gave me so much more than I expected.  I encourage you all to take a short break and allow yourself to see the beauty in the world around us.  A couple of days away from the farm will work wonders.

Take care, Karen.

“Sometimes you gotta take a break from all the noise

to appreciate the beauty of silence.”

~ Robert Tew

Rural Reflections #24

Such a busy-busy week.  But agriculture has been at the top of the priority list this week, as other aspects of life take a backseat.  From AgQuip field days and Hereford steaks… to pregnancy testing cattle and updating office records.  Time for a quick breather.

I have been reflecting on the agricultural industry, particularly the Hereford breed and the good-hearted people within this industry.  I have spent 3 long days at AgQuip Gunnedah with my fellow northern NSW Hereford breeders promoting the breed quality and performance traits.

With the beautiful smell from the BBQ, cooking 4000 Hereford steaks, and tasty Hereford beef pies, satisfied customers enjoyed the daily experience.  Hanging out with these passionate hard-working farming families and dedicated staff, has reminded me of the passion within them all.

Suffering from the effects of drought on-farm, yet they all found a way to be here and support the industry whole-heartedly.  Whether it is just a reason to get away, promote the significant breed or share their love for the agricultural industry… it was a pleasure to see the genuine care and interest over these days.

I particularly love the camaraderie and laughs shared; the efficiency and hard-work displayed; and the hospitality and care that is extended to customers.  That special factor that farmers possess… that love and passion to feed our nation… that is what stood out for me each day.

From one event to the next… pregnancy testing was on the agenda the following day.  I had been feeling slightly overwhelmed and worn out.  Back pain had sprung upon me again.  Nevertheless, a great result in preg-testing… with 100% of the mob preg-tested in calf.

With a quick visit to the chiropractor to rectify an on-going problem, I was back on deck again.  It amazes me how pain can affect your entire mood, your motivation and your enthusiasm in life.  I had forgotten how my chronic pain used to make me feel.  When we get pain, life does become a struggle… both physically and mentally.  It must become our goal to find a solution… to give us back control of our life.

My solution was a chiropractic adjustment, magnesium oil, pain relief and muscle-strengthening stretches.  Then time to catch-up on office work.  Several hours later, all livestock records have been updated and stock requirements have been met.  With calving season upon us, calves are being born, into not such an ideal season.  With a little bit of extra livestock management and schedules… farming continues.

With agriculture monopolising my time this week, I wanted to share with you a photo taken back in April 2017 just on dusk.  This is a reminder that good seasons exist and will exist again.

Rural Reflection #24…

24 Hereford Happiness

image subject to copyright

I love this photo because it sparks feelings of happiness.  Hereford happiness… cows inquisitive in nature, quiet and trusting of us… their care-takers.  I like the green pastures beneath the cows and anticipate this again soon.  The cultivated paddock with rich black soil, full of nutrients, represents the opportunity awaiting a better season.  I also love how the sky and cloud formations tell their own story.

This photo significantly tells me that at the end of the day, there is beauty all around us, trust is in many places and hope of another day when the sun rises tomorrow.  Sometimes we all just need to take a breath, open our eyes and see what is before us.  What do you need to see today?

Take care, Karen.

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments

when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”

~ Thornton Wilder

 

 

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

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

 

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.

be-511557__340

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.

thank-you-515514__340

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