Rural Reflections #18

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

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

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

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

Rural Reflection #18…

18 The Farming Zone

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take care, Karen.

“Agriculture not only gives riches to a nation,

but the only riches she can call her own.”

~ Samuel Johnson,

an Australian actor, producer, radio presenter & philanthropist.

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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

Paddock to Plate Using Unique Virtual Reality Technology

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take care, Karen.

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

“Technology will not replace great teachers

but technology in the hands of great teachers

can be transformational.”

~ George Couros

 

 

 

Farming: A Passion or a Burden

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

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

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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

 

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 #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

 

 

From Exploiting Women…To The Triumphs of Strong Women

It saddens me that women still have to fight for feminism rights and respect within this world.  Today I tackle a controversial issue that irritates me within the Australian culture… the exploitation of women.  After being faced with an incident last week, it has played on my mind, and now it is time I revealed my annoyance with the way women are looked upon as inferior sexualised objects.  Australia is supposed to be a pretty advanced society and women’s rights have been successfully implemented over this last century.

Despite the strength of many women, we are still faced with sex-based discrimination bringing an abundance of emotional torment to women every day in this country.  Why do some men welcome this exploitation for their mere selfish pleasure?  Why do some women allow themselves to be regarded as the inferior sex and settle for being taken advantage of regularly?

Historically, Australia is a male-dominated society, which started way back in 1788 when the British settled upon this land.  There has predominantly been a lack of respect and inferiority that continued for many generations.  Despite the equity of women becoming more accepted in Australia now… sadly I am reminded that we still have further hurdles.

Thankfully most Australian’s are respectable and there is support for women’s liberation every day around us… and not all men are so superficially challenged.  During this last week, I have witnessed both extremes… from very supportive women to the exploitation of women.

After enjoying several performances and shows during the Tamworth Country Music Festival, I was having a wonderful time and enjoying time away from the farm.  However, there was one particular performance that really did annoy me… which in my opinion, is working against the progress that women have made.  Not to mention names of the “not so great” performing group or venue… the exploitation of a woman within their performance, I found extremely crude and disrespectful.  Not funny at all.

To set the stage for you…

A young woman was “selected” from the audience as a volunteer, which may or may not have been part of the act.  The attractiveness of the young woman was verbally stated as part of the show… but it was the inappropriateness of the in-depth references to her body parts and blatant sexual advances, that I found very offensive. I am not too much of a prude and I don’t mind a little crudeness for humorous purposes.  But the sexual suggestions and inappropriate requests from the all-male performers… such as asking her to stroke the tambourine with intimate references, continuous bending over to take a bow in order to give the drummer a view of her butt in her short shorts, jumping up and down in excitement with men tantalising over bouncing breasts, brazen suggestions for a wet T-shirt to be brought to the stage, the fiddle player “accidentally” on purpose poking her breast with his bow, and the ongoing sexual advances… this was not entertainment but patronising vulgarity.

The saddest part was that this young woman was all too obliging and acted very “ditsy” when carrying on with their show.  Her foolishness within this show, made women appear brainless and cheap.  It made out as if women are worthless and our purpose is only for the sexual connotations for men.  This notion is so prehistoric and I found it crude that this was depicted in this way.  This type of presumptuous demeanor is a tragic insult to women in general.

Women have come so far in this world with equality, through women’s liberation and feminism, and our value has finally been acknowledged.  Sadly, I felt sorry for this woman being exploited (whether she realised it or not).  I felt sorry for the women in the audience (mainly an older generation)… thinking that this was normal back in their day and not considered sexual harassment at all.  And I felt sorry for the men that watched (and maybe quietly enjoyed the show) whether they realised it was disrespectful or not.  As a mother of 2 sons, I would be disgusted and disappointed if my sons treated women like this… and I am grateful that my husband respects women and is not superficial.

I watched the show for a short while, despite their early warning that their aim was to offend people and challenge political incorrectness.  I really thought the show could be quite funny.  Once I realised that this show was far too objectionable for my liking, I did leave the venue, as a personal statement that I did not support the exploitation of women by anyone.

Women are not sexual objects… they do need men to drool over their superficial looks and sexuality.  Women want to feel like a work of art… not a “piece of meat”.  Women have thoughts and feelings… they have opinions and talent… they deserve to be treated with dignity and regarded as an equal gender.  No more, no less, equal.

Although the disrespect may be evoked by many men in our community, it is women who allow them to be disrespectful towards them.  Women must realise their worth and stand up for themselves.  As women, we need to promote the well-being of all women.  If we are more liberated, the men will see that we deserve the respect we seek.

In a paradoxical moment, only several days later, I was able to witness a heartfelt supportive woman.  I attended Beccy Cole’s concert and enjoyed her fun-loving stage presence, her humour and her music.  Something that stuck with me… at the end of her show, her outspoken statements in support of feminism.  She just wants women to be nice to each other and accept ourselves for who we are.  Women need to support each other and boost each other up.  Her kind words really resonated with me, as I totally support this notion.

Similarly, when I attended another big concert “Country Turns Pink” which was raising funds for the McGrath Foundation, I witnessed another inspiring event.  Many music artists showed their support at this event and of women in general.  Beautiful music and lyrics touched the audience thanks to artists such as Tania Kernaghan, Gina Jeffreys, Beccy ColeAdam Harvey and Amber Lawrence.

I would like to share this song I enjoyed when sung by Amber Lawrence as I really loved the beautiful lyrics… “Cheers to the Girls”.  The uplifting song is about women realising their own worth, taking back their power, standing up for themselves and following their dreams.  I am sure that every girl and woman can relate to this song and has felt these sort of feelings at some point in their lives.  This is what we should be promoting for women… and we deserve nothing less.  Listen and enjoy!

Take care, Karen.

“Women of Worth

She is someone’s daughter

She is someone’s friend

She is someone’s sister

She is someone…”

~ Author Unknown

Video Credit: Amber Lawrence & YouTube

Rural Reflections #6

With Australia Day on the weekend, it has made me think about our history and appreciate the hard times that our ancestors had lived through.  We are so lucky today to have the freedom, the technology and the many opportunistic events within our lives.  As I reflect back and acknowledge our history, it gives me reason to celebrate my love for Australia, the land, the lifestyle, the democracy and the people.

From our indigenous heritage, to those who have come from all corners of the globe to call our country home, we are united within our dynamic nation, regardless of where our stories began and our cultural diversity.  Aboriginal people had lived on this land, that we now call Australia, for more than 65,000 years.  On 26th January 1788, eleven convict ships from Great Britain, arrived at Sydney Cove, marking the start of a new colony on this beautiful land.  Every year, Australia Day is celebrated as a national holiday to reflect on what it means to be Australian.

Some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have mixed feelings about this day, as some consider it to be a day of mourning or survival of their culture.  As they were the traditional custodians of this land… respect, trust and positive relationships have been promoted through the Reconciliation process.  Australia Day aspires to be a celebration of our nation, gives recognition to all of our history and unites us all as Australian people in our diverse nation.

Farming was important from the very first day that the ships arrived in Australia.  Sheep were one of the first domesticated animals to be introduced into Australia at this time.  Within 50 years of their arrival, sheep had become the main source of income for the Australian agricultural industry.  Originally, sheep were not raised for meat, but for wool, and quite quickly the Australian export of sheep became more profitable than any country in the world.

​​Nowadays, Australia is the world’s number one producer of premium quality fine wool and is the largest producer of all wools by value and volume.  The total wool produced in Australia is 324,900 tonnes greasy (shorn wool prior to treatment).  

There are around 70 million sheep in Australia, producing an average of 4.6kg of wool per head.  The value of wool produced in Australia averages AU$3 billion dollars, which reflects the continuing strong global demand for Australian wool.    

So with the recognition of our history and thinking about sheep in Australia, I thought it would be appropriate to share this photo from our property.  It shows the heritage-listed shearers’ quarters that was on our property when we purchased it.  The photo was taken in April 2017 when green grass actually existed here.

Rural Reflection #6…

06 The Authentic Comforts of a Shearers' Quarters Heritage

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I like this photo because it represents the little comforts of long ago, providing shelter and warmth… and sadly probably not much more than that.  It also depicts in my mind, the hard back-breaking work of the shearers’ resting before another long day’s work.  These shearers’ quarters are no longer in use, but as we drive past it every day on the farm, I acknowledge the history of this rustic structure with original timber walls and the authentic culture that lies within.

We need to all acknowledge the history around us and recognise the impact within our lives.  Historical events have happened, well out of our control… but we have the choice how we react to these events.  Incidents in our past, mould our personality and behaviour.  We have the control to make a difference in our lives and the world we live in.  As an Australian, I choose to enjoy the freedom in our nation, accept the wrongs that have happened in the past, let go of negativity, work hard for an industry that I love and be the best person I can be.  What do you choose?

Take care, Karen.

“We are not makers of history.

We are made by history.”

~ Martin Luther King, Jr 

 

Revel in Country Music at Australia’s #1 Festival

Get ready for Australia’s largest music festival starting in only 3 days.  Tamworth NSW is famous for hosting the annual Toyota Country Music Festival in January each year.  A festival where many renowned country music artists and thousands of fans flock from all over the nation and from abroad to our regional city for 10 whole days of fun, live music and entertainment.

Not only is this the largest music festival in Australia, but the second largest music festival in the world.  WOW that is huge… 700 artists, at more than 2800 events across the city, over 10 days and nights.  Starting Friday 18th January until Sunday 27th January 2019… there is something for everyone.  And it is not too late!

The Tamworth Country Music Festival is a unique festival experience and attendance is free to all.  There are free shows every night in Toyota Park (Bicentennial Park) for you to enjoy.  Main streets are closed off for buskers, stalls, children’s activities and street performers.  You can choose from over 2800 free and ticketed shows over the 10 days in the park, pubs, clubs and hotels around Tamworth.  The Tamworth region is dynamic and in full festival swing.

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The Country Music Festival is a family-friendly event, with free concerts in Toyota Park (Bicentennial Park) in Kable Avenue, the Toyota Country Music Fanzone stage in Fitzroy Street, busking and live entertainment for all ages.  Bring the whole family and check out the Family Zone for rides, entertainment and more in Kable Avenue during the festival.

There are tickets available for gigs by performing artists in the lead-up and during the Country Music Festival.  From live performances, entertainment, country music attractions and other festival activities… this annual event is not to be missed.

To name a few of the renowned performers for the 2019 Country Music Festival…. Kasey Chambers, Troy Cassar-Daley, Adam Harvey, Beccy Cole, Travis Collins, Catherine Britt, Adam Brand and The Bushwackers.

If the red carpet tickles your fancy… the Golden Guitar Awards night is an opportunity to rub shoulders with the biggest names in country music and see them perform in one huge concert at the TRECC.  This is the finale to the 10 day Toyota Country Music Festival Tamworth 2019.  The Golden Guitar Awards are the nation’s longest running music awards concert.

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In search of the next Toyota Star Maker 2019… 10 of Australia’s top emerging country music artists will compete to become the 40th Toyota Star Maker winner at the Grand Final, the main event on the first Sunday of the festival.  The 2018 Toyota Star Maker Winner last year was Brad Cox.

My husband and I did attend a few concerts and shows last year with some good friends.  I remember enjoying Australian singer/songwriter Shane Nicholson at “The Pub” last year.  We also laughed with friends at the “Longyard Hotel” when listening to the crazy antics of a fast-paced show with the Australian band The Bushwackers.  After attending the free Opening Concert in the park and enjoying a variety of artists, I then purchased tickets to attend the “Moonshiners Honky Tonk Bar” for Travis Collins show later in the week.  I also love to walk around the Tamworth street stalls and listen to the variety of buskers… always finding a favourite.

If you are wanting something a little different, you can enjoy the excitement of the ABCRA National Finals Rodeo and Campdraft.  A week of elite Rodeo and Campdraft action at Tamworth’s Australian Equine Livestock & Events Centre (AELEC)   The thrill of cowboys competing for the buckle… highly experienced bucking stock, who thrive on dumping cowboy’s in the dust… and cowgirls upon their horses in a showdown after years of training.  The dynamic energy will have you on the edge of your seat.

Another new 2-day event to provide an exciting, unique and new element to the Tamworth Country Music Festival for both tourists and locals… is the Great Australian Round Up.  It is to be held at AELEC to celebrate our farming heritage and support our agricultural future.  This is a charity event raising money for the Burrumbuttock Hay Runners and other vital rural services.  Showcasing Australian country exhibitions and memorabilia from the legendary Longreach Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame.  The main event will include internationally renowned Guy McLean and his incredible stock horses, as seen on Australia’s Got Talent (see YouTube link for his audition).  An elite Rodeo extravaganza will follow.  Not only the excitement of rodeo action, The Great Australian Round Up rodeo will tell a story of the heritage of rodeo in Australia, highlighting its importance in today’s rural communities.

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Tamworth country music attractions available all year round include the Big Golden Guitar, Australian Country Music Hall of Fame, Wax Museum, Galaxy of Stars, Roll of Renown and Hands of Fame.

Keep in mind, the Tamworth agricultural industry has been suffering the effects of drought on the land, so the businesses in town have felt this too.  This annual festival is a chance for you to come and spend your money in Tamworth to support the local businesses who have suffered as a domino effect of this horrid drought.  We have seen drought support across the nation, but now is your chance to help first hand and put money back into our rural community by attending this entertaining festival.  We are all in this together and I hope that we can all enjoy some time-out, great music and entertainment galore.

So it doesn’t matter if you are seeking live country music entertainment, exciting country activities or sensational country events… it will all be here ready and waiting for you in Tamworth NSW.  Come and see what the Tamworth region has to offer.  Book your accommodation now and bring your family and friends, a hat, sunscreen, fold-up chair or picnic rug for outdoor concerts, photo ID for the pubs/clubs… and you will be ready for an experience you will never forget.

For more information see Toyota Country Music Festival Tamworth 2019.

Take care, Karen.

“A good country song 

takes a page out of somebody’s life

and puts it to music.”

~ Conway Twitty, American Country Music Singer

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