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

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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

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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…

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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

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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

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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

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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

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.

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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.

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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

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“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.

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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 #7

Something a little different today, as I travel for an appointment this weekend… I will be reflecting on a farming area in central-west NSW.  I have snapped this photo, as we travel through Coolah NSW today.  I am reminded of the Sir Ivan bushfire only 2 years ago in this area and the devastation that was thrust upon those many farmers and home-owners.  A destructive blaze that destroyed their homes, businesses and livelihoods… yet their strong will and resilience have somehow seen them through.

The Sir Ivan bushfire started at the small rural locality of Leadville and burned about 55,000 hectares (136,000 acres) of land near Dunedoo, Cassilis and Coolah in February 2017.  The blaze destroyed 35 homes, farm machinery and killed about 4,700 sheep and 500 cattle, which cost the region millions in damages.  Tragically many of their dogs were also lost in the inferno.

Due to the enormous scale of this disaster, the charitable support and working volunteers from BlazeAid and the NSW Rural Fire Service… were a great savior bringing assistance and hope.  I recall BlazeAid volunteers stepped in to help rebuild boundary fences and other farm structures that had been damaged or destroyed.  BlazeAid volunteers worked in the area for many months, helping individual farmers, families and the local community.  I remember the Country Women’s Association (CWA) members driving down from Tamworth to cook meals for the voluntary workers and farming community and to help lift their spirits.

Meanwhile, the Merriwa-Sir Ivan Bushfire Appeal were fund-raising to help the victims of the disastrous bushfire, by asking people to donate cattle or funds that could help purchase cattle.  Through wider community support, 515 head of cattle were sold and the appeal had raised $835,000.  This appeal was focused on rebuilding more internal fencing, sheds and water infrastructure, as a medium-term initiative.

Sadly these farmers haven’t had a chance at a full recovery, because they have gone straight from a catastrophic fire… into drought conditions.  These producers need decent rain to allow pastures to make a comeback and the natural vegetation of trees and shrubs to possibly recover.

Today, I share with you this photo as a symbol of the strength and resilience of farmers.  In a time when farmers were faced with a natural disaster… they found the strength to rebuild their lives and continue farming in the agricultural industry.  In a devastating time, when “giving up” seemed the best option… they didn’t.  Somehow they found that inner strength… to get up again and overcome the pain and loss incurred.

Rural Reflection #7…

07 Lucerne Flats to Arid Rocky Hills at Coolah NSW

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This photo shows a lucerne paddock in the foreground, struggling in drought somewhat, but recovered from the bushfire.  It seems this region has been fortunate in receiving some of the recent storm rain, which has helped, but plenty more rain will be needed to break the drought and retain moisture in the soil for future crops.

The gentle hills behind, provide livestock with shelter, which has not properly recovered, even after 2 years since the devastating bushfire.  The bony hills have had all the natural vegetation burned out and has not recovered at all.  I like this photo because it shows the extreme variation of farmland, terrain and soil structure in Australia, which depicts the Australian rural landscape quite well… from the productive lucerne flats and undulating hills, up to the arid rocky outcrop.  It also is a symbol of survival through adversity and optimism for the farming future.

I do find this natural diversity of land very interesting… with 51% of Australian land being used for agriculture and only 10% is arable or suitable for growing crops.  Land use has a major effect on our food production, natural environment and communities.  In Australia, food security is regarded very highly as high food safety standards are implemented.  Factors that affect land management include climate change adaption, population and urban expansion.

It is not uncommon for rural families to be forced to travel some distance to other regional cities to see medical specialists.  When we travel, we tend to choose a route for a rural deviation as a means to avoid traffic as well as take the opportunity to view other farming areas.

It is a farmers passion for the rural industry and in recognising the need to sustain the future food security of our country… that they find the inner strength to persist and endure the struggles.  The hope for their future is also supported by many Australian communities through reputable charities, whether it was in recovering from the devastating bushfire or this horrid drought.

Take care, Karen.

“In the end,

some of your greatest pains

become your greatest strengths.”

~ Drew Barrymore

 

 

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  

What is WAGS?…Women In Agriculture Gaining More Skills

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Tamworth
  • Narrabri
  • Walgett
  • North Star

For more information about the WAGS program:

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

  • Guyra
  • Inverell
  • Tenterfield
  • Walcha

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

Take care, Karen.

“When women support each other,

incredible things happen.”

~ International Women’s Day 2018

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