Just Get Off the Farm to Chill With Men of League

A sense of gratitude displayed today, as farmers with a genuine love for the industry, gave themselves some time out, with the generosity and kindness from the Tamworth Men of League.

A Farmers Grill & Chill Re-Run held at the Calala Inn today has left farmers feeling supported, cared for and new friendships have been formed.  Strength has been restored in the local farming community, by easing the pressure of drought through the sharing of a delicious meal, sharing stories and having a good laugh.

The Tamworth Men of League hosted a free lunchtime meal and drinks in the beer garden of the Calala Inn, near Tamworth NSW.  As farmers enjoyed a cold one, smiles returned as the drought load was lightened in simple conversation with old and new friends.

The Men of League Foundation is an Australian rugby league charity providing support and assistance to men, women and children from the rugby league community who have fallen on hard times.  The Tamworth Men of League have once again expanded that support to the local farming region.  They invited local farming families to the second Grill & Chill event, following its success last year.

This was the first event that my husband and I have attended.  Feeling a little awkward at first, for just allowing others to show their support, yet quickly we were made to feel welcome and very comfortable.

We shared friendly conversations with other farmers that we had just met, feeling an instant connection and relatability to issues within our lives.  The positive discussions lifted spirits and recharged our inner batteries.

The chefs at Calala Inn provided a delicious cooked meal including steak, sausages, vegetables and salad, on behalf of the Tamworth Men of League.  The tasty meal was served buffet style.  The staff behind the scenes made this happen.

It enlightened me, to see the selfless acts of kindness in organising such an event to support farmers in a time of need.  Industry support with a personal touch, was at the grass-roots of the event.

Sponsors provided a variety of valuable lucky-door prizes for farmers to all enjoy.  The many sponsors generously provided these prizes, so to hear their names reminded us of the businesses that supported this hospitable occasion.

I was fortunate to meet exceptional people today… those that so kindly put this event together and their thoughtful family members, as well as those strangers that became friends ever so quickly, through mutual understanding or compassionate connection.

Thank you to Kevin and the Tamworth Men of League team for your thoughtful acts of kindness, your support and your gracious hearts in our local community.  It is empowering to see the difference you make in so many lives.  Today was not only a  simple meal, drink and a prize being provided… but rather the analogy of an outstretched arm of support and a gentle reminder of the good people that exist in our community at large.

It is in these tough times that we have seen so many selfless acts of kindness be revealed.  And it is with this supportive shining light, that gives farmers the strength to hold onto their passion in sustaining the agricultural industry into the future.

Take care, Karen.

“Sometimes we just need someone to be there for us.

Not to fix anything or do anything in particular,

simply so that we can feel we are supported

and cared for during the hard times.”

~ Author Unknown

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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

Toastmasters Proves To Be Life-Changing

Who cringes at the mere thought of public speaking?  ME for one!  It is Toastmasters International Week.  The week to reflect upon and promote the intense personal improvements that are waiting to be unveiled for all.

Toastmasters is a self-development group of people that are aimed at helping members improve their communication and leadership skills.  Toastmasters was established in 1924 and now operates in 52 countries with more than 200,000 members in over 8,000 clubs.

Only a few months ago, I joined Toastmasters International and ever so quickly… my life has improved, in confidence and my public speaking skills are starting to emerge.  Despite feeling anxious and somewhat overwhelmed at speaking publically, Toastmasters has incredibly helped me overcome my initial fears and is helping me develop some insight into the art of speaking.

I wouldn’t say miracles have happened in this very short time, but my involvement at Toastmasters has certainly improved my confidence levels and ability to not “run away” at the mere thought of speaking to an audience.  I like the structure and opportunities presented at each meeting.  I also like the supportive members that assist and guide with their friendly natures and mutual desire for personal improvement.

Our level of confidence improves with our ability to control our nerves and overcome the fear.  Toastmasters helps you to overcome that fear, control your nerves and increase your confidence.  Leadership skills are the great underlying strength in Toastmasters with their structure, organisation and operation.  Toastmasters can help you improve your ability to think more quickly, learn meeting procedures and have an evening of fun and enjoyment.

For me, I like to speak from the heart and give an emotional authentic style of speech.  My problem is I like to write, so of course, I can prepare an engaging speech of some sort.  But presenting a speech is my struggle.  When I stand up, I lose the words, I don’t know what to say.  This is my challenge to overcome and I have enjoyed the journey to date.

I attended my first meeting to check it out and observe as a guest.  Then I joined up on the spot, despite thinking that “I am way out of my depth here”.  I believed I could never speak in front of people like this, even though it was only a small audience of about 12 people.

But I was on a recent mission to challenge myself and gain personal growth.  Nevertheless, I joined up because I knew that would make me return and I would not give up without even trying.  I am really a scrooge and money is very valuable in farming… so in my mind… if I paid the membership, I would have to return to get my money’s worth.  I know… I am a little eccentric… but it worked for me.

Toastmasters has produced a new program called Pathways that allows members to choose their own unique path, subject to their own aims and desired outcomes.  I find this very personalised and more dedicated to the individual.  I also enjoy the online opportunity of my pathway.

The new program Pathways was introduced in 2010 with 5 core competencies:

  • Public Speaking
  • Interpersonal Communication
  • Management
  • Strategic Leadership
  • Confidence

There are 11 different Pathways to choose from, based on your own objectives and to develop those skills as you embark on this new experience and journey.  Through answering questions about my aims and purpose, several Pathways were suggested.  I chose “Innovative Planning” and was guided to the tasks and their purpose.

So I was keen, although nervous, at the next meeting to present my first 5-minute speech the “Ice Breaker” which is all about introducing yourself and learning the basic structure of a public speech.  I would normally have quit before I even started… because I feared public speaking so much that I would even refrain from asking questions for the lack of words.  I have recently managed to shift my mindset, so I was very nervous yet very eager to begin and get it over with.  Surprisingly under the nerves, I actually enjoyed presenting my speech and my passion in life to the small audience.

As part of my new challenge for self-improvement, I elected to take on the assignment of the “Inspiration” segment at the next meeting.  My short speech entailed Christmas and the festive season and an inspiring poem.  I also enjoyed doing this, despite the nervous energy within me.  I am still amazed by how a supportive group of people with a mutual interest in improving speaking skills can encourage me to be so involved.

At following meetings, I have continued to take on an assignment role where needed, in an attempt to make myself step outside my comfort zone.  This has lifted my confidence and improved my ability to speak and find those words somewhere within.  I do feel empowered to explore and enjoy what Toastmasters offers in developing my communication skills.

My next big speech will be in a few weeks, so I have been thinking about where to begin.  The topic can be about anything of my choosing.  I would like to talk about drought in Australia, the mental health of farmers, the empathy of strangers with drought support and the unspoken yet heartfelt gratitude of farmers.  As a farmer, this is quite an emotional topic, so I am not sure how it will come together and be presented.  I would like to try presenting a speech without having it written on paper, word for word.  But I am fearful that my true message will get lost when I forget all the words and I will feel disappointed.  I must talk to some more experienced fellow Toastmasters to get some advice.

Toastmasters really is a supportive and positive learning environment with opportunities for members to develop communication and leadership skills.  This leads to self-confidence and personal growth.

Anyone over the age of 18 can join Toastmasters… male or female… from any career or background.  I encourage you to make enquiries at your local Toastmasters Club as you will be amazed by this incredible life-changing experience that will improve all areas of your life.

Take care, Karen.

“The thing you fear most has no power.

Your fear of it is what has the power.

Facing the truth really will set you free”.

~ Oprah Winfrey

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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

Exposing The Truth On Why I Chose To Write A Blog?

Why on earth do people want to blog?  Why would you want to spend time doing such a thing?  Well for me, it was an emotional outlet… a platform to share and connect with others.  There is something magical about opening your heart to allow others to see the real you. love-1221444__340

It is a way I can remotely share my real-life stories and inspire others along their journey in life.  It is a tool for me to use in order to manage my stress related to the current drought on the farm.  It gives me a voice and somewhere to write my thoughts and feelings.

Why not a journal or diary, some may ask?  I have a passion to help others and I can see a need where others can relate through reading my words.  It gives a sense of support and knowing that we are in this together.  I am passionate about encouraging others to believe in themselves and I aim to inspire others through my own experiences.logo-1677364__340

Conventional writing has taken a back seat, as the tech-savvy readers emerge, reshaping the internet media landscape.  Some people may think that bloggers like to be the centre of attention and regard themselves as their own prime focus.  NO, this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

In fact, bloggers are more introverted, sometimes shy, yet have something important to share.  Connections can still be relevant in our changing world through this means.  Bloggers support some sort of cause or have a passion to inspire others or enrich their lives in some way.

For me, blogging started as a result of the drought, when my stress-levels had sky-rocketed.  I had hit rock-bottom in my physical and mental health.  But I was brave enough to seek some professional help and my life started to improve dramatically.

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Then I started to see the community drought support right across our nation and this was completely overwhelming.  I wanted to thank the community for all the drought assistance and emotional support they were providing to farmers through the charities.  I wanted you all to know how valuable you all were and what a difference your support was making in all our lives.  Blogging gave me this voice publicly.

Sharing through my daily blogs, helps me keep connected with my family and friends further afield.  My Mum especially loves to read what I write.  I know that she is content knowing that I am doing OK and now serving a greater purpose with my writing.  My non-farming friends and associates have enjoyed reading my blogs and like learning about farming life.  My blog keeps us all connected and informed.

Blogging also gives me the ability to be creative with my website design.  As a perfectionist, I took great pride in designing my website from scratch.  Every time I write a blog, it gives me an opportunity to express myself creatively.  I want it to be a true representation of myself and my passion in life.

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It took me a few weeks to feel comfortable enough to reveal who I really was.  Trust does not come easily to me at all.  But I realised that I must trust in the process and allow my purpose in life to be revealed.  The main reason I decided to “expose” myself, was to give credibility and as honesty is my most honourable attribute… it was inevitable.

From there blogging became a commitment to touch others hearts by sharing my personal stories on and off the farm.  I also noticed a need where many others doubted their own abilities and inspiration was needed to guide self-worth for all. heart-2466384__340

There is something to be gained by moving my personal stories from an invisible state into the light for others to see.  When I receive feedback from individuals, thanking me for opening up my heart and sharing my stories… it gives me a sense of fulfillment which is gratifying.  It pleases me that I can support or guide others to find their own answers.

I then realised that blogging had become my own form of stress-relief.  As I typed away at the keyboard, all that mixed-up “stuff” in my head was released.  I literally felt calmer within myself and more centred again.  Life then became harmonious… almost tranquil.

So although farm life hadn’t changed at all and drought feeding demands were still a large burden… my ability to handle the situation had changed dramatically.  Instead of feeling complete exhaustion, emotionally chaotic and unable to cope with these challenges… I became more focused and capable of the work involved.

Karen Nov 2018

Sometimes, I feel a little selfish when I write my blog… as I am addicted to that feeling of knowing that it gives me the inner strength I need daily.  It helps me to find my inner thoughts and to move forward in my own life.  It has become almost therapeutic and a daily ritual for me.  Writing is what I love… the words just seem to flow from within.

But the greatest satisfaction is… knowing that my words have impacted on other people.  Knowing that I have inspired somebody else.  Knowing that my words give them the support they need and a connection between us all.  Knowing that sharing my personal experiences will help someone else every single day.  This is what truly gives me a sense of serene contentment.

Take care, Karen.

“BECAUSE WHEN I WRITE,

it’s more than just me at a keyboard.

It’s the universe converging within

the pandemonium of my mind,

and turning it into something

BEAUTIFUL.”

~ Lyndsay Everotm, A Writers Thoughts.

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