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…

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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

Another Year Grateful With a Vision

2019 is almost over and it is time for me to reflect upon my year gone by.  A mighty year I have paved my way through, including drought and personal growth.  In review, my vision board has been my regular guidance.

Did you reach some of the goals that you set out to achieve in 2019?

Some goals reached, others still a work in progress.  Overall I am happy with my own personal achievements and what I have been able to extend in doing for others.  I finally learned the importance of looking after myself, something very unfamiliar to me.

This year for me, was one for learning and expanding my comfort zone.  Personal growth was a priority in 2019 and I amazed myself and enjoyed learning in the process.  You just never know what you are capable of until you have a go.

My year started with the creation of a vision board and was used as a reminder throughout the year to motivate and inspire me.  A vision board is a collage of words and pictures to represent your goals and dreams.  It is used as a visualisation tool.

I enjoyed creating my vision board for 2019, as I used pictures, words and colours to personally represent my goals and to inspire my own success.

Vision Board for 2019

Well, how did I go?  Was I successful?

Success is not a destination but a journey. 

So YES I believe I have been successful to achieve and make progress on what is important to me.

OWN WHO YOU ARE!  This was my mantra or affirmation for 2019.  I made a choice to express who I was and love the person that I am, with faults and imperfections.  This is who I am, a unique individual finding her way in this world.  You are never too old to set another goal and dream a new dream.

My 2019 goals were to:

Write a Book – My talent had blossomed this year and my passion for writing has developed.  Through my words in this blog, I have been able to inspire and help others to shape their lives by making better choices and believing in themselves.  As an Author, my book may not be complete but it has progressed in some way.  For this I am grateful.  This goal has also diversified into 2 separate books that I want to write.  My blog is the basis of those books remaining within my mind.  I attended a workshop with a published Author at the Rural Women’s Gathering this year in Walcha and I have learned specific techniques for my writing to use in the future.

Public Speaking – I joined Tamworth Toastmasters to tackle my fear of public speaking and gain confidence in communication skills.  I have learned great techniques and met some great people that encourage me.  I also attended a Grow your Speaking Biz Workshop with Sharon Jurd Events and I now enjoy speaking to others with a specific message to inspire the listeners.  I have also had several opportunities to speak to community groups on agricultural issues, hypnotherapy, my business, anxiety and to inspire students at my former primary school.  My greatest fear has been conquered.  I still get nervous but more excited now. 

“Country Heart Spark” Blog – My unique way of sharing experiences, thoughts and motivation to inspire others.  Like a journal, but for the public to view, I can connect with people, encourage and support them through my writing.  To have found that something special in me and be able to share with others, is enormous.  I love to write and express myself wholeheartedly in the hope that someone really needs to read what I have written today.  The feedback I receive is what keeps me going and I love to know when I have helped someone in some unique way.

Improve Health – I have struggled with my weight, emotional eating and lack of self-care of myself over the years.  This year I have had a few tests with my doctor, had a diagnosis and dietitian advice.  Finally, food started to make sense with how my body was reacting to certain foods.  It was the first time that I actually made a connection.  I also participated in coaching with Katie Godden on Simple Steps to Better Health which was a great motivation and support.  Although limited by finances in this drought, I was able to understand my health issues and start making progress.  I had been eating much better, with more salads, vegetables and meats.  Unfortunately, over the festive season I have made some unhealthy choices but my body tells me when I forget to listen.

Financial Relief – Drought has been crippling us and business choices have been limited for over 2 years.  Whilst experiencing the worst drought in 100 years, we still have been making decisions, right or wrong, to sustainably remain in farming.  We did make the decision this year to sell part of our farming property, subdivided and put it on the market.  We are down-sizing and business will change and I will find off-farm income.  With this land sale, we will achieve some financial relief.

Design Website – I have now created 3 websites from scratch.  I love to be creative and design marketing material.  Self-taught with information online, I managed to create these websites to reflect the businesses using my good eye for detail.  However, I have even surprised myself with the results and how much I enjoy it.  Completed in style!

Spend Time with Family – As a mother of grown-up children, I miss not having dependants.  But our children are always our babies, so being there to listen, to advise when needed and to help teach them adult lessons… becomes a new task.  Drought has made time a huge limitation, but I have managed regular contact with my sons and family.  It was lovely to have both of our sons home for Christmas with their partners and to see their personalities shine.  In October, I also enjoyed a few days with my Mum and valued the one-on-one time I was able to spend with her.

Time-Out – I have been using a visualisation technique.  Visualising myself as a jug full of water, giving to others.  As I started to run dry, I realised I can’t be there for others if I do not refuel myself first.  When I learned to do this, my jug was full enough to share around and help others.  I now find time to write, to unwind and to express myself.  I also give myself time-out away from work, to connect with local organisations, volunteer my time and communicate with others.  During this drought with the mental and physical exhaustion, I still found a little time to relax, feel calmer and be happy in life.  Whatever it is that you love, find time to do it.

Our performance is so much better and we are much more productive when we acknowledge that we are worth it.  We need to take the time to meet our own needs, nurture ourselves from the inside and embrace our capabilities.

Take time to reflect on your own year, your own goals and your own achievements.  It is surprising, in our review, that we have been very successful and made mighty progress in our lives.  Be kind to yourself and be kind to others.

Enjoy your New Year’s Eve festivities.

Take care, Karen.

“Starting today I need to forget what’s gone,

appreciate what still remains,

and look forward to what’s coming next.”

~ Author Unknown

 

 

 

Rural Reflections #29

Life is like a book.  Some chapters in our lives wear us down.  Sometimes we experience sad times, but sometimes we have good times and excitement in our lives.  If we never turn the page, we will never know what our next chapter in life holds for us.  Who knows it could be our most exciting chapter ever.

Times have been very tough for all of us on the land, especially in this region.  But knowing that we are all going through this together, somehow gives reassurance and strength to believe in our soul purpose to produce food for our nation.

Life is about to change for me.  With the downsizing of our farming property in the near future, I will take a step back from it all… to pursue work elsewhere in an effort to support the ongoing operations on the farm.

Rather than view this change with hesitation, I choose to see this as an exciting chapter about to reveal itself.  Learning new things empowers me, and on my latest journey of personal growth, I am eager to see where life takes me.

When one has not experienced the job interview process, after 25 years of self-employment… this process could be a little daunting.  Strangely enough, however, I am not nervous at all.  I believe I know what I am capable of and what special gifts I can offer the wider world.  Nobody else knows us better than ourselves.

I have had a couple of job interviews and applied for a couple more in the business administration area and am ready to see where this takes me.  With nothing set in stone yet, I am allowing myself to blossom.

My advice to anyone going through a change right now… just breathe, do your best to showcase who you are and enjoy the opportunities before you.  Life will not give you too much to handle… just keep making decisions to get through it.

Today I found this photo to share with you.  I took this photo in June this year when I thought that after a shower of rain, maybe, just maybe, seasonal conditions would turn around for us.  A shade of green was scattered through the back paddocks.  Although temporary, it gave us all a boost to soldier on.

Rural Reflection #29…

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Why I like this photo?  It serves as a visual analogy.  The older large tree on the left with the deformed tree growths… is feeling the struggle of conditions yet not inhibited to serve its purpose.  In comparison, we may be getting a little older, a little tired and feeling the struggle in this drought… but we have a purpose to share our talents with the world and provide a little shade of comfort for others.

Similarly, the small green tree on the right is growing from an old stump of a tree that would have been cut down many years ago.  From the centre of an old hollow stump, this seedling would have grown, feeling the protection from the environment until it was able to blossom.  Even in drought conditions, this beautiful tree looks healthy and is still growing.

This just shows that we depend on one another in our personal development.  But more importantly, change is how we evolve into the person we truly are.  Through change…  whether it is changing our perception or thought processes… or with life-changing events… we evolve and progress through the chapters in our lives.

So be kind to yourself, be kind to others and enjoy your next chapter!

Take care, Karen.

“Change is inevitable,

Growth is optional.

~ John C. Maxwell

Rural Reflections #28

Life does not get better with chance… it gets better with change.  My life is about to change once again.  Have you been at a crossroads in your life?  Ever wondered which road to take this time?

We never know what is around that corner and we must make changes to move through life and experience interesting opportunities.  Sometimes taking a chance… may just be the change we are looking for.  But we must make it happen.

Drought is overloading us.  Overloading my inner strength.  Overloading my mind.  The battle continues here in Tamworth, without rain, without feed and something is about to change.  Making me question… why we all chip away at it every single day?

I am passionate about the agricultural industry… a future to secure for all Australians.  But I am not giving up… I am about to make a change.  Life is all about choices and decisions… right or wrong… who can say?  It is us that controls our own choices.  The drought may be cracking me around the edges, but it is no way going to break me.

Another choice we make.  Unfortunate but necessary, we are dividing our farming property in two, and we will be selling one block.  Finances can only stretch so far, as we all know over the last 2 years of drought.  So we are down-sizing.

Hubby and I will remain here on one block… farming as usual.  The other block “Porters” will be sold… 1650 acres of land… giving someone else an opportunity to love life here too.  Like many farming decisions, at first, I felt a little disappointed.  Then I felt comfortable with the decision, to have a plan in moving forward.

So whilst my hubby spends the days farming, I have decided to seek off-farm work and bring a new experience into my life.  So many farming families have had to change their circumstances and still feel the struggle every day… juggling off-farm work into their life equation.  But for me, since we are down-sizing, I have an opportunity to share my expertise further, in an industry that I choose.

Have you been making choices and decisions or questioning those choices?  There are many opportunities before us, we just have to figure out what we need to do to make a difference.  But the decision must be right for you, not for those onlookers from the outside.  I am still passionate about this industry and I am still the same person… just making some life changes to work for me.

Today, I share with you this photo of the driveway on my property depicting “Porters” and the drive away to change.  This image is the perfect metaphor for changes in life.  It shows a green barley crop after a shower of rain in June, yet now it has sadly turned to dust.  It is still a nice reminder of how quickly our land changes.

Rural Reflection #28…

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We could sit back, struggle and complain about the drought, but NO.  We can’t control the weather and farming is a gamble at times.  But we do have control over our feelings, reactions and our response.  We made a choice to do what we need to do.

Hubby is happy when on the land… and I am happy when anyone can find that passion within to do what they love.  I believe life is made up of experiences.  My next experience is about to unfold and I am excited.

What choices are you making to ensure you are passionate and committed to your life, inspiring those around you?

Take care, Karen.

“The pessimist complains about the wind;

the optimist expects it to change;

the realist adjusts the sails.

~ William Arthur Ward

Creating a Natural High at Walcha Rural Women’s Gathering

Passion, inspiration, learning, laughter, friendship and empowerment… were on the program at this year’s Rural Women’s Gathering held in Walcha this past weekend.  3 great days of excitement, connection and culture were shared with 219 attendees gathered in the high country.

A jam-packed program was full of captivating speakers, educational workshops, interesting tours, fresh local cuisine, community group hospitality and musical entertainment.  This is the 27th NSW Rural Women’s Gathering to be held.  The annual event is organised by dedicated local committees each year, supported by the Rural Women’s Network.

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Despite a challenging drought and a heart-breaking season, the Walcha committee flocked together to create a natural high reflecting their environment, location, history and culture.  Ironically, Walcha is renowned for “where wild rivers run”… but the big dry had put a stop to that.  Nevertheless, a wonderful committee ensured the beauty remained in their environment through the town’s artworks, culture and welcoming friendly faces that surrounded us.

The Hon. Adam Marshall MP, officially opened the NSW Rural Women’s Gathering (RWG) and launched the 2019 Hidden Treasures Honour Roll which celebrates women volunteers who give so much to their rural communities.  It was wonderful to recognise a few names on the list this year.  Two ladies that I know personally, I want to make mention of, as they inspire me in their communities.

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The beautiful bubbly personality of Mary Hollingworth from Guyra (formerly Glen Innes) was recognised as a valuable volunteer for more than 35 years.  She is renowned for her involvement with the Glen Innes Celtic Festival and many community organisations.  Mary never ceases to amaze me with her infectious smile, love for life and her encouragement of others.  She also seems to have a knack of persuading people to hit the dance floor with her (thanks Mary!).

The kind-hearted generous likes of Sue-Ellen Wilkin from Moore Creek near Tamworth.  A strong amazing woman that started a charitable food pantry for drought-stricken farmers at Tamworth and Murrurundi.  The charity is called Doing It For Our Farmers and is run by a group of tireless volunteers.  Sue-Ellen has a heart full of passion and care for the farming community.  Her charity is a valuable support network for farmers and local primary producers.

Guest Speakers were inspiring in their own unique ways and an interested audience was captivated in the information they shared, the laughter they inspired and challenging stories they could relate to.

A local Walcha sheep and cattle producer, Sonia O’Keefekept the audience captivated with her inspiring outlook and positive attitude.  She shared her story with her down-to-earth personality and simple, yet empowering philosophy in life.

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A leading lady in musical theatre, cabaret, screen and radio, Amanda Muggleton, kept us entertained with her unique style, passion, humour and extroverted persona.  She has just joined the cast of Home and Away, as Robbo’s on-screen mum Wendy.  She amazed us all with her wit, enchanting personality, performing ability and provocative versatility.

Fun and laughter all-round when she performed the segment called Laugh Out Loud with Amanda Muggleton, alongside 4 talented committee members.  Interestingly, she was not just a guest speaker and performer at this event, but she attended the weekend with us all.  Her friendly involvement, love for life and encouragement of others is very inspiring.

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Grazier, author and Walcha Councillor, Jen Kealey, spoke of her passion in the rural community, charity work and resilience.  Walcha local and organising committee member, Anna Barwick, shared her unique story, her Showgirl journey and her success in life with heartfelt passion as a health advocate. 

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Janelle Archdale shared the inspiration of her time as the first female Mayor of Walcha and now runs her boutique-style fashion, homewares and giftware store called Paperdolls House.  Angus stud breeder, Erica Halliday, gave us an insight into women in the boardroom with her casual yet intelligent demeanor.

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Wool producer, Jules Cordingley, spoke about merino wool, quality yarn and her woollen fashion company.  Jo Palmer, a successful business woman and the winner of the AgriFutures Rural Women’s Awards told her story of connecting people to remote work opportunities.

Sister Jan O’Grady from Open Support gave us valuable information on accessing health care services in Sydney and how Country Care Link transport services can assist the rural community when at their most vulnerable.  My dear friend, Sonia Fingleton went on to explain how she manages the beautiful Chisholm Cottage, like a home away from home, so that rural people can access major Hospitals and health services in the city affordably and with a network of support around them.

Local graziers and earthmoving contractors, Peter and Suzanne O’Keefe, shared their heartfelt real-life story when he became a burns victim in a terrible farm explosion accident.  Against all odds, Peter survived this accident, 59 days in an induced coma and 32 surgeries later.  They both shared their own perspective of what happened and how they handled such adversity in their lives.  I shed tears listening to their amazing strength and how they coped.  Peter now inspires other burn victims during their recovery period.  Amazing speakers, leaving not a dry eye in the room.  Very inspiring!

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The dedicated Walcha RWG Committee offered an abundance of local artists to display their creative artworks in a Pop-Up Art Show.  Local quilters displayed their talent in numerous eye-catching colourful quilts.  Local market stalls provided a beautiful selection of giftwares, luxury items for the lady and unique creations during the weekend for sale.  Service providers were also in attendance to share advice and assistance wherever possible. 

A variety of interesting and empowering workshops were organised with a magnitude of varying subjects.  Not surprisingly, I chose to do 2 writing workshops with Author John Heffernan.  Sometimes we must challenge ourselves, try new things and stretch our imagination… you just never know what you may truly be capable of.

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Friday night we were entertained by the musical ability and incredible voice of 16 year-old Hattie Oates from Tamworth.  A soulful voice well beyond her years where we danced to pitch-perfect tunes.

Saturday night, a blanket of white filled the marquee with a beautiful White Dinner @ Altitude.  Guests dressed in white clothing, enjoyed beautifully presented platters before them and enjoyed a local Fleece to Fashion Parade.  Followed by non-stop entertainment with the fun-loving party band Memphis Moovers.

All night, we kicked up our heels, leaving all reservations behind, and enjoyed music from the 50’s to the 00’s… from Elvis to Lady Gaga.  The Memphis Moovers  returned Sunday for a fabulous musical finale.  A song was written and performed with the RWG attendees… the singers, the dancers and the clappers.

A wonderful, inspirational, motivating weekend that has once again given me direction, time-out and a vision in my own life.  I am already looking forward to next year’s Rural Women’s Gathering to be held in Forbes.   

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The best part was catching up with familiar faces that I had met at previous RWG events.  It just feels like I have known these women for so much longer.  Great friendships have formed and a network of support is so relevant.  We all need a little girl-power, female support, uplifting souls to empower us… and this is the rural women’s event to do this.

Take care, Karen.

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“When women support each other

incredible things happen.”

~ Author Unknown.

 

 

 

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

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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CWA Conference Aspires Leadership & Friendship from Albury

Country Women’s Association of NSW (CWA) members bring an abundance of knowledge, energy and inspiration into Albury NSW for this year’s Annual State Conference.  From business meetings, honourable guests and informative workshops… to social activities, historical tours and State Committee displays… there was never a dull moment.  And I have caught it on camera, then compiled a video to share with you today.

I had the privilege to attend as a Delegate for Tamworth Evening branch along with my friend Kylie and a group of ladies from our region.  Women from all walks of life coming together with their unique backgrounds, experiences and expertise to seek a mutual resolution of motions.

CWA aims to improve the lives of women and their families through their democratic process of a policy-setting agenda and an extensive range of activities.  Many opportunities lie within all levels of CWA to be involved and seek the support of local issues of grave concern.

Starting with a combined Ecumenical Service and raising $2,884 for the Albury Wodonga Cancer Research Fund, members once again unite and connect socially.  The Official Opening entertained and inspired members prior to the Business Sessions commencing.  The keynote speaker was Her Excellency The Honourable Margaret Beazley AO QC Governor of NSW.

The CWA Medical Research Fund has raised $34,000 to donate towards endometriosis.  A debilitating disease affecting many women with symptoms of pelvic pain and fertility issues.  An interesting medical presentation has identified through research the importance of potential protein biomarkers of endometriosis.  CWA members have voted to continue supporting endometriosis through their Medical Research Fund for another year.

Interestingly CWA has opened 12 new branches over the last year; 11 Evening branches and 1 Sunrise branch.  CWA is now appealing to younger generations and working women that have a desire to become involved, having an opportunity to attend meetings that are more convenient.

Women join CWA for a variety of reasons such as friendships, social connections, educational opportunities, sharing of experiences, learning cookery skills, creating handicraft items, to discuss local agricultural concerns, the policy-setting agenda… and the list goes on.

International information was shared on the CWA Country of Study for this year which is Papua New Guinea.  Other cultures are interesting and CWA members have the ability to learn new and fascinating information.

Business Sessions continued throughout the Conference where policy motions were discussed, amended as needed and then voted upon.  A diverse range of topics arose in the scope of agriculture and environment, health and social security, transport and telecommunications and Constitutional changes.

Important resolutions were sought from CWA branches and successfully made CWA State policy for topics such as rural crime, improper use of drones, travelling stock routes, food safety standards for meat and milk, erecting a wildlife overpass, dairy industry issues, public cancer clinics, post mortems, supporting nurses, health industry pricing, drought relief funding, scoliosis, Automated External Defibrilators, horse traffic road rules, and truck-specific rest areas.

CWA, as the largest women’s organisation in Australia, plays an important role in lobbying the Government for change and improvements across so many aspects of our lives.  I am very proud to be a part of such an hounourable and progressive organisation.

As a shy individual, with the thought of public speaking terrifying me all of my life, I chose to step up and speak at this year’s State Conference.  This decision aligned well with my current journey of personal growth and challenging myself.

I spoke against a motion and explained my reasoning, without falter, in front of 500 other members.  When a Past State President asked for me (and another member) to assist in the re-wording of the motion to incorporate the relevant concerns, it felt amazing to be part of this process, working together for the desired result.  The motion was to review a weed classification, educate and research.

Another highlight for me, was winning 3rd place in an annual essay competition presented by the Honorary Editor of the CWA Journal.  This was the first time I had entered a CWA competition, so I was very excited.  The essay topic was “In modern times, do we have the capacity to harness the power of empathy for one another?”  I found this topic very engaging and relatable, therefore very passionate to write about.

Socially we had a very entertaining week away, with plenty of laughter, great meals, dancing and friendly conversations.  I also caught up with some old friends and was delighted to see them again.  CWA brings a great bunch of women together with big hearts, thoughtful personalities, compelling stories and a myriad of experience.

Since the drought has been ever so heavy upon my shoulders, I valued my week away so very much.  I spoke with my husband every night, checking that all was OK on the farm, and appreciated the time out with CWA members and the uplifted feeling that had surrounded me.

I would like to share my amateur video with you all reflecting on the fun, the engagement and the memories of the happenings with CWA State Conference in Albury… through my eyes.

Take care, Karen.

 “Don’t let anything defeat you.”

~ Governor of NSW Margaret Beazley

Video Credit: YouTube and Karen Weller

Rural Reflections #19

Opportunities are all around us to get involved with our community, seek new connections and make a real difference in this world.  To see the bigger picture and what you can offer… will also bring you personal contentment.

The Country Women’s Association of NSW (CWA) gives me a strong sense of community with valuable knowledge, friendships and a mutual commitment to improving people’s lives.  Today marks the start of another Annual State Conference, this year held in Albury NSW on the Murray River.

With the drought over-powering my strength on the farm and a need to so something more purposeful at the moment and restore a sense of life control… I arrive here enthusiastic and ready to be enlightened.  The opportunity to be a delegate at this Conference and represent our region with the policy-making decisions of a strong women’s organisation… is an honour and something I look forward to.

As I left home feeling somewhat excited about the CWA business meeting events to follow and connecting with a larger community… I also felt a little sad to be leaving all responsibilities upon my husband to solely deal with drought-feeding livestock and the hopeful anticipation of rainfall.

Fortunately, I do have a supportive husband and he encourages me to take these opportunities within my life.  He understands what makes me happy and allows me to grow as a person.  I do know if I feel strong, in control and have a sense of purpose… then I can be supportive to the rest of my family.

I always think of that image of a “jug of water” representing our own self… when we run out of water, we have nothing left to give another.  We need to refuel first, so we have something within ourselves to give to the other person.  Knowing when you need to look after yourself, seems to be the forgotten issue, especially for women.

The photo I share with you today, reflects upon my escape from farming life as I travel down the road heading for another opportunity.  The photo was taken about 10km from our property heading towards town.  Every time I go to town, this is a part of my journey.

Rural Reflection #19…

19 The Road to Opportunity

image subject to copyright

I like this photo because of the beautiful coloured sky with the blue, pinks and mauve.  The sky looked so lovely that I stopped to capture this image.  I also like the contrast of the cultivated paddock and the dry grass along the roadside.  The cloud configuration reflects the beauty of our natural country landscape.

So as I anticipate my involvement within the CWA State Conference, I also appreciate my roots back home.  An appreciation for our beautiful country, the support of family and the new opportunities that await us all.

Take a look around you… acknowledge and appreciate what you already have in your life and have the courage to pursue personal growth by accepting new opportunities that spark your own interest.

Take care, Karen.

“Alone, we can do so little;

Together, we can do so much.”

~ Helen Keller

 

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

image subject to copyright

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.