Rural Reflections #30

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rural Reflection #30…

30 Leader

Photo Credit: Peter Hardin 071119PHF008

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

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

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

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

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

Take care, Karen.

“Photography is an art of observation.

It has little to do with the things you see

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

~ Elliot Erwitt

Rural Reflections #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

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 #22

My favourite time of year has finally arrived.  The calving season!  With an early start in the birthing arena, a first-calving heifer was the star of today… delivering the first newborn calf for the year.

Ladies first… a female calf becomes the first calf born for 2019, and was also a first for this 2-year old heifer in bringing life into this world.  Hereford calves are beautiful, especially when they are newborns with their clean whitefaces, pink noses and inquisitive looks.

The start of the newborn season always brings me such delight and a smile to my face.  With excitement, and anticipation for what the next 8 weeks will deliver… daily checking of cows and weighing newborn stud calves.  This is my most treasured time of the year,  with our farming business.

The newborn season brings hope, optimism and business prospects.  Drought has brought us all worries, financial concerns and physical exhaustion.  But now, as each baby calf is born into this world, we are reminded of the love for farming and our animals.

Today, I share with you, a photo of the first heifer calf born this year.  It reflects my happiness as we come along to check the cattle and see a sweet face amongst the grass.  I also love the quiet temperament of our cattle and how this first-time mother trusts us and just eats calmly closeby.

Rural Reflection #22…

22 Ladies First in a Newborn Season

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I cherish these times on the farm and wait in anticipation for the next calf to be born… probably tomorrow.  The calving season brings more enjoyable times to such a hard-working industry.  Although we physically have to weigh the newborn stud calves and ear-tag them for identification purposes, these are jobs that bring more pleasure than pain.

We all need enlightening and a boost right now, an uplifting feeling to clear our vision and remember our ambitions and aspirations within the agricultural industry.  These innocent newborn calves give us that completely.

Satisfaction on-farm has returned, as I look into these beautiful brown eyes.  Satisfied that we have managed to keep our cattle productive, despite the effects of this tiring drought.  Satisfied that high-fertility in our cows is a major trait that we focus on.  And satisfied that I have a wonderful family to share my life with.

Take care, Karen.

“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”

~ Dr. Seuss

 

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.

Rural Reflections #17

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

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

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

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

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

Rural Reflection #17…

17 Hereford Bulls On The Move

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take care, Karen.

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

but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”

~ Masanobu Fukuoka,

Japanese farmer and philosopher.

How to Reclaim Your Power and Proudly Own Your Individuality?

How many of us get lost in this big wide world trying to fit in with family, our workplace or our environment?  Who has tried to be the person that they think they should be, but in the process the real YOU becomes hidden?  We all have… at some point in our lives… at all ages… felt the uneasy feeling of fitting in and conforming to pressures in society.

The power is in finding yourself again, accepting your unique qualities and allowing yourself to own who you are.  From our childhood years, teenage pressures and growing into the adult for all to see… our individuality is somewhat contained until we place value on our own attributes in life.

It is my niece’s birthday today, she is 15.  These teenage years place so much pressure on our young ones.  I am so proud that she is the mirrored example of accepting her differences and allows her true beauty to shine.  I wish we could all have that strength and capability at such a young age… to proudly be the person we truly are.

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The pressure of fitting in as a teenager… to be cool, popular and socially acceptable.  The pressure that these young people place upon themselves, is disheartening as a parent or caring adult.  For teenagers to overcome that pressure and allow their unique or even peculiar personalities to be released… that is where the real strength lies.

My beautiful niece amazes me with her diverse interests in life and her mature attitude towards relationships and interaction.  She has a passion for animals, a caring heart, a love for horses and showing cattle.  Yet she also likes organisation within her life and she has a gift for cooking.  Her attitude to give it a go and commit to doing her best… I find exemplary.

The maturity beyond her years is also inspiring and I hope that the warped sexual maturity of teenagers today is not a negative influence.  Our teenagers are forced to grow up too quickly and the mental capacity to embrace this advancement puts far too much pressure on our young ones today.  I just hope she can keep true to that individuality in years to come and inspire others to be true to themselves as well.

Children and adults alike, we all sometimes tend to re-shape our personality to assimilate the norm and be accepted in a judgemental world.  Strangely enough, with being divergent… we don’t really need to conform to societal pressures, as our unique qualities are what makes us all special and adds value to the people around us.

Sadly, it can take years or decades for us all to realise our real potential, value and purpose in this world.  We need to teach our children and grand-children early, to accept their differences and realise their own significance which allows their passion in life to develop naturally.

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Never sacrifice who you truly are… because somebody else may have a problem with it.  Be true to yourself… and be comfortable in your own skin and in your own mind.  Understand who you are and accept those beautiful unique attributes that you bring to life.  Authenticity inspires respect… so be courageous and own who you really are.

We are all a work in progress, regardless of our age.  As each year passes, our passion or interests may vary, our purpose may alter… but be true to the person you are and shine light on our world.  By being yourself and sharing love, kindness and compassion… you reclaim your power to make a positive difference in your life and the life of those around you.  Be PROUD of who you are!

Take care, Karen.

“Your self-worth is determined by you.

You don’t have to depend on someone telling you who you are.”

~ Beyonce’

Rural Reflections #13

Rain seems to be a figment of our imagination lately.  2018 was a very tough year with only 369mm of rain, whilst our annual average rainfall is 673mm.  Despite receiving only 55% of our usual rainfall, we have managed to keep our remaining core breeders in relatively good condition, by implementing a full drought feeding program.

After receiving 37mm of rain in December 2018, we hoped for a turnaround… but no, just a temporary break to catch our breath.  With no rain at all in February, the grass failed to grow and we started full feeding the livestock once again.

As farmers and primary producers we do focus so intently upon the weather and weather forecast, as a means of farm business management, livestock feeding, land management and cropping.  It is sad but true.  Drought feeding takes its toll on us all physically, mentally and financially.  At what point do we say enough is enough?  I wish I knew the answer.

From a national economic stance, it is important that not all farmers sell all of their livestock, as the end result will be far too detrimental to our agricultural industry.  Livestock that are sold during this drought, will not be sold for breeding purposes.  Livestock numbers across our nation will be drastically reduced, thus affecting the future production of our red meat industry.  We need to have breeding stock still alive when this drought breaks and producers will need to re-stock over time, which will take several years.

Drought feeding is very costly, yet a necessity for remaining core breeders on farming properties.  Most primary producers are borrowing funds to feed their livestock with no idea when this will end.  But tough decisions are made, right or wrong, for each individual farming business and the future of our livestock industry and red meat production.

I have been avoiding the drought feeding routine on our farm lately and feeling a little guilty… leaving it all in the hands of my husband.  But today I did go with him and I took the camera.  We were checking the cows out the back in the pine country.  I was surprised that we have managed to keep up their condition score quite well.  These Hereford cows are pregnant, producing a calf to be born in only a few months.  Since cattle only produce one calf per year, we felt it was important to ensure their condition was maintained as to produce their progeny without fail.

So today I share with you, a photo taken this morning.  The photo depicts a green Kurrajong Tree amongst the pine trees with a small mob of Hereford cattle resting in the shade.  There is no grass for feeding livestock, so they rely on us to provide their feed rations and nutritional requirements.  But as you can see, the cattle are in good condition to ensure their farm productivity.

Rural Reflection #13…

13 Kurrajong in the Pine Country

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I like this photo because the cattle calmly watch us encircle them with satisfaction upon their faces.  The green Kurrajong Tree is prominent and a saviour when drought feeding.  I felt content to finally see something green today… the colour alone lifted my spirits.

The branches of Kurrajong Trees can be lopped for livestock to feed on, in times of drought.  The green foliage can be a real saviour to drought-stricken cattle.  Then during the better seasons, they are great shade trees and are quite attractive in appearance.  Farmers value the importance of Kurrajong Trees on their farms.

So today I am reminded that we need to look beyond the image of drought and find beauty in our breeding animals and our environment.  It is this that will keep us focused and capable of battling each new day.  Look for beauty in your life today!

Take care, Karen.

“It’s not the load that breaks you down,

it’s the way you carry it.

~ Lena Horne

 

 

 

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

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

image subject to copyright

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