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

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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Hard-Working Farmers On The Edge

To sow or not to sow… that is the question.  As farmers watch the weather radar, day after day, now with hope receding back into their minds… the next decision awaits.  Should farmers be sowing the seed for their pastures and crops with this current weather forecast looking hopeful?

Farming relies on the weather… in all decision-making processes on-farm.  Frustration had set in over the last year or two, with so many weather forecasting inaccuracies.  Farmers cultivating paddocks, sowing seed or direct drilling, without any results on the ground.

In February last year, we planted five paddocks with Winter feed for our livestock.  As the weather prediction was promising but failed to deliver… those paddocks were a failure without rainfall.

Battling on in this current drought, the decision-making process has become hesitant and painful on the bottom dollar.  Gambling on rainfall to deliver… but lacking with the current dry.  When will farmers catch a break?

The latest weather forecast has been predicting rain, not drought-breaking rain, but nevertheless enough moisture for a crop to successfully emerge.  Many farmers have been preparing paddocks and sowing seed.  Many farmers have been too skeptical to take another chance.

Farming is a gamble… yet a decision must be made.  A decision… right or wrong.   The last 2 nights my husband has been sowing seed in hope for a positive outcome with the predicted rainfall delivering the moisture we need.  My son has been working on a neighbouring cattle station preparing paddocks in anticipation for this rainfall event on Friday.

Day and night… farmers are driving tractors until each paddock is complete.  As farmers work these long hours, they remain absent from their families at night.  The focus is on Friday in our region… farmers need to get it all done before Friday.  Then we all hope and pray that the rain gods deliver the much-needed precipitation.

Take care, Karen.

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“Farmers don’t just work till the sun goes down.

They work till the job gets done.”

~ Author Unknown

 

 

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.

Rural Reflections #15

Reminiscing about what precipitation will do to our farmland and our mental health.  A beautiful drop of rain bringing us into the weekend was graciously received.  The best rain we have had for over 2 years… and what joy this precious moisture has stowed upon us.

From about midnight Friday, a few light sprinkles briefly intrigued us.  But at 3am… the clouds opened above us and lightened our heavy hearts and cleansed our minds.  In the early daylight hours, we lay in bed listening to the beautiful sound of rain on a tin roof and watched the rain through our bedroom window.  The sheer delight as time rolled on by and the workload waited.

Drought feeding cattle could not start in the rain, so we rested our weary bodies and calmed our minds.  After a busy and tiring week, a lazy morning was perfectly timed.  By 9am Saturday morning, excitement overcame us… as 72mm of rain was tipped from the gauge.  72mm of pure gold to the parched farmland surrounding us.

Dams that had been empty for over 2 years, finally had water in them.  Some dams were even full.  This was the most rain we had received in 2 long years.  The heavens had finally delivered the relief we greatly needed.  The hard cracking ground soaked up the moisture quickly.

The drought may not be over, but the hope is alive and well again.  With follow-up rain, we may just get a chance to round that corner and get back on track.  It seems almost magical… that rainfall can simply change your thinking and lighten the load mentally.

This weekend following the rainfall, I blissfully enjoyed listening and watching the altered demeanor of my husband and youngest son in discussions.  The stress had subsided somewhat, the fun had returned, smiles became more apparent and conversations were more relaxed.  That rainfall really did cleanse our souls and prepared us for life once again.

Today I want to share with you, an image of what this hope truly gives us.  It reminds us of normal seasons on the farm and more effective farm production.  This photo was taken in July 2017 on our property, in the middle of Winter in north-west NSW, Australia.

Rural Reflection #15…

15 A Stormy Grey Sky Brews in the North

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I love this photo for the simplicity and colour contrast.  A few young Hereford heifers quietly watch in awe.  The stormy grey clouds are brewing in the north yet the sun is still shining upon us here.  The tender lush grasses provide the nutrients for the livestock and is usually the norm.  The white box tree depicts the natural environment around us.

This recent rain is hope for a fresh start, to put the horrid drought behind us and allow our pastures to sprout again.  It will take time, but the aspiration has returned to us and we await the desired prospects.  This rainfall has lifted our spirits immensely and given us the much-needed inner strength in our lives.

Always find that little flame inside you and remember your passion and what is important in your life.  There is always hope for better times.  That is the thing about life… we have to go through the tough times to really appreciate the good times.

Take care, Karen.

“I don’t think of all the misery

but of the beauty that still remains.”

~ Anne Frank

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 #11

Farmers are true believers in their industry, thus leaving them emotionally and psychologically exposed.  As the challenges consume us in this current drought… it is more important than ever… to reframe our way of thinking and believe we will get through this again.  We must first accept we are in a drought and find a way to move forward by focusing on the important things in our lives such as our family and our health.

On Friday, my husband and I attended a Community Forum on Drought and Mental Health held in Tamworth.  “The Big Community Muster” presentation covered 11 locations in 6 days and was a very informative and enjoyable event on rural health and resilience.  A dedicated team entirely decked in brightly-coloured Trade Mutts work shirts attire and designed to be a conversation starter… was the visual highlight.

Guest Speakers included:

  • Gerard O’Brien – RSM Australia Director.  He had a comprehensive understanding of the rural issues faced by farmers in this unprecedented drought event.  Gerard shared information regarding the Rural Assistance Authority drought loans and applications as well as the DroughtHub resource.
  • Alister Bennett – NSW State Agribusiness Manager for ANZ.  He works with farmers across the state regarding farm business financial management.  Alister provided information regarding agribusiness managers and encouraged farmers to have a good open relationship with their agribusiness manager in both good times and bad.
  • Dennis Hoiberg – founder of Lessons Learnt Consulting.  He is an organisational consultant and a key public speaker on emotional well-being and resilience.  Dennis spoke in a practical and humorous way to engage farmers interest, yet still managed to get the important message across very effectively.

The key message of RESILIENCE is not about being tough… it is about being whole.  It is not about bouncing back, it is about bouncing forward.  Resilience is not just about thinking happy thoughts, it is about action.

Dennis reminded us that it will NOT be the drought that breaks us, it will be minor issues in our lives.  These issues will affect our relationships and health.  Resilience is about being able to accept the drought situation and finding a way to move forward.  Dennis Hoiberg’s book The White Knuckled Ride provides thoughts, experiences and strategies to help people become resilient.

This day was effectively presented and farmers walked away with some positive information in moving forward, despite the stress and hardships they are suffering.  With a determined hope, farmers were reassured that they will get through this.

This has reminded me to appreciate all that is around us.  The drought is only the situation… a situation we must move through… and we will.  What is important is our relationships, our children, our families and our friends… those that we share our life journey with.

So today I will reflect on the current drought situation and share a photo from our farming property.  I usually prefer to show you an old photo of green grass and happier times.  But this is the situation and we are in DROUGHT… but today I CHOOSE to show you the BEAUTY within this frame.

Rural Reflection #11…

11 Look for the Real Beauty

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This photo is taken only a month ago and things are no better with the weather situation now.  But I choose to look beyond this.  I accept we are in a drought.  I know finances are in a terrible state.  I know feeding stock has become the norm.  I know physically we are wearing out.  I know mentally we need to protect what we have.  So I look beyond the dry parched land.

  • I see the rich black fertile soil awaiting a better season and I feel grateful that we have this soil beneath us.
  • I see a clear blue sky and appreciate that I can breathe this clean air every day.
  • I see a pretty pink haze, remnants of the bushfires from a distance and feel relief that farmers have protected their environment without casualties.
  • I see a mob of Hereford cattle that we have managed to keep productive and I appreciate their quiet natures for breeding stock.
  • I see a few Kurrajong Trees on the left and understand their environmental and feeding value on the farm.
  • I see the vastness on our property and am thankful that we are lucky to live in a beautiful agricultural environment.
  • But more importantly, I see my youngest son riding his motorbike to check livestock and I recognise his real passion for agriculture, his passion for cattle breeding and his passion to make our lives better.

With the stress of dealing with the drought, we sometimes overlook the most important things in our lives.  We start to focus so much on the negativity and the struggles we are faced with every single day.  We worry how on earth we will get through this.

But it is our husband, our wife, our children, our parents, our siblings and our friends… that we need to re-focus on.  They are the ones that really matter in our lives.

I am so lucky to have a caring husband that I admire for his true passion in this industry and I value his love and support.  I am lucky to have 2 wonderful sons that we have raised to honourable young men, leading their own unique lives and paving their own way.  I am lucky to have a beautiful mother that has been my inspiration to make this a better world and see the beauty in everything.  I am lucky to have a sister that tries her hardest in all that she does and is raising 3 beautiful children in the process.  I am lucky to have a few friends that I hold close to my heart and I value their friendship and support.

We all have to look at what really matters to us and where the real value is in our lives.  The love we have for our family and friends is what will get us through this drought.  Let’s make a plan to survive this tough time, accept what we cannot change and move forward wherever that may be.

Rather than see the depressing effect of drought on the land and our finances… choose to focus on the real beauty surrounding us.  Look beyond the surface… find the beauty… and enjoy the little things in life.

Take care, Karen.

“I cannot always control what is going on around me,

but I can always control what I think about what is going on around me.”

~ Lucy MacDonald

 

Rural Reflections #7

Something a little different today, as I travel for an appointment this weekend… I will be reflecting on a farming area in central-west NSW.  I have snapped this photo, as we travel through Coolah NSW today.  I am reminded of the Sir Ivan bushfire only 2 years ago in this area and the devastation that was thrust upon those many farmers and home-owners.  A destructive blaze that destroyed their homes, businesses and livelihoods… yet their strong will and resilience have somehow seen them through.

The Sir Ivan bushfire started at the small rural locality of Leadville and burned about 55,000 hectares (136,000 acres) of land near Dunedoo, Cassilis and Coolah in February 2017.  The blaze destroyed 35 homes, farm machinery and killed about 4,700 sheep and 500 cattle, which cost the region millions in damages.  Tragically many of their dogs were also lost in the inferno.

Due to the enormous scale of this disaster, the charitable support and working volunteers from BlazeAid and the NSW Rural Fire Service… were a great savior bringing assistance and hope.  I recall BlazeAid volunteers stepped in to help rebuild boundary fences and other farm structures that had been damaged or destroyed.  BlazeAid volunteers worked in the area for many months, helping individual farmers, families and the local community.  I remember the Country Women’s Association (CWA) members driving down from Tamworth to cook meals for the voluntary workers and farming community and to help lift their spirits.

Meanwhile, the Merriwa-Sir Ivan Bushfire Appeal were fund-raising to help the victims of the disastrous bushfire, by asking people to donate cattle or funds that could help purchase cattle.  Through wider community support, 515 head of cattle were sold and the appeal had raised $835,000.  This appeal was focused on rebuilding more internal fencing, sheds and water infrastructure, as a medium-term initiative.

Sadly these farmers haven’t had a chance at a full recovery, because they have gone straight from a catastrophic fire… into drought conditions.  These producers need decent rain to allow pastures to make a comeback and the natural vegetation of trees and shrubs to possibly recover.

Today, I share with you this photo as a symbol of the strength and resilience of farmers.  In a time when farmers were faced with a natural disaster… they found the strength to rebuild their lives and continue farming in the agricultural industry.  In a devastating time, when “giving up” seemed the best option… they didn’t.  Somehow they found that inner strength… to get up again and overcome the pain and loss incurred.

Rural Reflection #7…

07 Lucerne Flats to Arid Rocky Hills at Coolah NSW

image subject to copyright

This photo shows a lucerne paddock in the foreground, struggling in drought somewhat, but recovered from the bushfire.  It seems this region has been fortunate in receiving some of the recent storm rain, which has helped, but plenty more rain will be needed to break the drought and retain moisture in the soil for future crops.

The gentle hills behind, provide livestock with shelter, which has not properly recovered, even after 2 years since the devastating bushfire.  The bony hills have had all the natural vegetation burned out and has not recovered at all.  I like this photo because it shows the extreme variation of farmland, terrain and soil structure in Australia, which depicts the Australian rural landscape quite well… from the productive lucerne flats and undulating hills, up to the arid rocky outcrop.  It also is a symbol of survival through adversity and optimism for the farming future.

I do find this natural diversity of land very interesting… with 51% of Australian land being used for agriculture and only 10% is arable or suitable for growing crops.  Land use has a major effect on our food production, natural environment and communities.  In Australia, food security is regarded very highly as high food safety standards are implemented.  Factors that affect land management include climate change adaption, population and urban expansion.

It is not uncommon for rural families to be forced to travel some distance to other regional cities to see medical specialists.  When we travel, we tend to choose a route for a rural deviation as a means to avoid traffic as well as take the opportunity to view other farming areas.

It is a farmers passion for the rural industry and in recognising the need to sustain the future food security of our country… that they find the inner strength to persist and endure the struggles.  The hope for their future is also supported by many Australian communities through reputable charities, whether it was in recovering from the devastating bushfire or this horrid drought.

Take care, Karen.

“In the end,

some of your greatest pains

become your greatest strengths.”

~ Drew Barrymore