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 #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

image subject to copyright

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