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

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Rural Reflections #25

Today I am reflecting from the beautiful coastal city of Port Macquarie as I arrive to attend a seminar… and finally catch my breathe.  A busy couple of weeks I have had, from cows being artificially inseminated as we start our first 2019 A.I. program… as well as meetings, business webinars and… oh… my hubby fractured a rib.

He was mustering cows on the quad bike, and a cow somehow kicked the tyre, and tipped it.  Hubby hit the dirt.  Cow 1 versus Hubby 0.  A late visit to emergency and the dreaded wait… wait… wait.  Finally discovered a fractured rib along with a couple of fainting episodes.  No internal injuries, so very lucky once again.  It just required an overnight stay on his part and plenty of good painkillers.

All of this commotion in such a busy week.  But like everyone else, family must come first.  So my best laid plans began to unravel.  He was unable to travel the distance so soon, therefore I arrived solo in Port Macquarie.  Feeling like it has been a juggling act, but finally I can breathe again.

Two full days and one night, at the Agricultural & Environmental Seminar run by the Country Women’s Association (CWA), will start tomorrow.  I had been looking forward to this annual event as tickets sell so fast that I usually miss out.  But not this time.  But then my plans almost went kaput.  Almost!!!

So as you can see with the photo that I share with you today… I made it to Port Macquarie this afternoon.  I snapped this photo as I strolled along the water’s edge, deep in thought.  My mind wandered.  I enjoyed the smell of the clean, salty air.  Dust-free!  Only a farmer in drought knows the true value in that word… dust-free!

Rural Reflection #25…

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It reminded me that as farmers, we take on a mighty workload normally, but the drought has taken its toll upon me.  It wasn’t until I was walking here, that it struck me… that we all need a break.  A break from drought feeding.  A break from worrying excessively.  A break to really breathe again.

A short half hour walk, with the spectacular coastal views, cleared my mind.  It reminded me, that self-care is important.  We tend to all get caught up in our busy lifestyles, business commitments and family routines, that we forgot to look after ourselves.

I like this photo with the purple flowers in the foreground and the rocky embankment holding those cool waters.  A short walk that gave me so much more than I expected.  I encourage you all to take a short break and allow yourself to see the beauty in the world around us.  A couple of days away from the farm will work wonders.

Take care, Karen.

“Sometimes you gotta take a break from all the noise

to appreciate the beauty of silence.”

~ Robert Tew

Rural Reflections #24

Such a busy-busy week.  But agriculture has been at the top of the priority list this week, as other aspects of life take a backseat.  From AgQuip field days and Hereford steaks… to pregnancy testing cattle and updating office records.  Time for a quick breather.

I have been reflecting on the agricultural industry, particularly the Hereford breed and the good-hearted people within this industry.  I have spent 3 long days at AgQuip Gunnedah with my fellow northern NSW Hereford breeders promoting the breed quality and performance traits.

With the beautiful smell from the BBQ, cooking 4000 Hereford steaks, and tasty Hereford beef pies, satisfied customers enjoyed the daily experience.  Hanging out with these passionate hard-working farming families and dedicated staff, has reminded me of the passion within them all.

Suffering from the effects of drought on-farm, yet they all found a way to be here and support the industry whole-heartedly.  Whether it is just a reason to get away, promote the significant breed or share their love for the agricultural industry… it was a pleasure to see the genuine care and interest over these days.

I particularly love the camaraderie and laughs shared; the efficiency and hard-work displayed; and the hospitality and care that is extended to customers.  That special factor that farmers possess… that love and passion to feed our nation… that is what stood out for me each day.

From one event to the next… pregnancy testing was on the agenda the following day.  I had been feeling slightly overwhelmed and worn out.  Back pain had sprung upon me again.  Nevertheless, a great result in preg-testing… with 100% of the mob preg-tested in calf.

With a quick visit to the chiropractor to rectify an on-going problem, I was back on deck again.  It amazes me how pain can affect your entire mood, your motivation and your enthusiasm in life.  I had forgotten how my chronic pain used to make me feel.  When we get pain, life does become a struggle… both physically and mentally.  It must become our goal to find a solution… to give us back control of our life.

My solution was a chiropractic adjustment, magnesium oil, pain relief and muscle-strengthening stretches.  Then time to catch-up on office work.  Several hours later, all livestock records have been updated and stock requirements have been met.  With calving season upon us, calves are being born, into not such an ideal season.  With a little bit of extra livestock management and schedules… farming continues.

With agriculture monopolising my time this week, I wanted to share with you a photo taken back in April 2017 just on dusk.  This is a reminder that good seasons exist and will exist again.

Rural Reflection #24…

24 Hereford Happiness

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I love this photo because it sparks feelings of happiness.  Hereford happiness… cows inquisitive in nature, quiet and trusting of us… their care-takers.  I like the green pastures beneath the cows and anticipate this again soon.  The cultivated paddock with rich black soil, full of nutrients, represents the opportunity awaiting a better season.  I also love how the sky and cloud formations tell their own story.

This photo significantly tells me that at the end of the day, there is beauty all around us, trust is in many places and hope of another day when the sun rises tomorrow.  Sometimes we all just need to take a breath, open our eyes and see what is before us.  What do you need to see today?

Take care, Karen.

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments

when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”

~ Thornton Wilder

 

 

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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Rural Reflections #22

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

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

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

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

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

Rural Reflection #22…

22 Ladies First in a Newborn Season

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

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

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

Take care, Karen.

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

~ Dr. Seuss

 

Rural Reflections #21

Tired, exhausted and distracted with life… that I have neglected to write for you and for me.  That underlying passion that sparks my soul when I use my thoughts and words to connect with my life… it has been simmering beneath the breeze.

But I am back, still tired, still distracted, but ready to reflect once again.  I have been busy with farming, business life, new business ventures, voluntary activities and now my health has taken priority.  Why is it so hard for women to put themselves first and value their own health status?  Usually, it is when our health fails us, that we decide to make it more of a priority.

Another sinus surgery to follow-up from last year, has left me feeling tired, as my office work started to pile up.  Starting to get back on top of it, yet distracted by means of too many roles to participate in.  I have been reflecting on the important things in life.  My health, my family and my passion.

I look back over the years… proud of success, learning from failures and connecting with many people, making a difference in this world.  Success comes in so many forms.  But so many people focus on success being an overall goal.  This is so untrue and can leave people feeling unnecessary disappointment.

Success is all the little things that you do throughout every day of your life.  Success is teaching your child good manners.  Success is ensuring your partner feels loved.  Success is bringing happiness into someone else’s life.  The small things that good people just do without a conscious thought… that is real success.

So rather than focusing on the happy marriage, the new car, the dream home or the ideal job that you will get one day… focus on those little successful events throughout your day.  And remember that disappointment or failure is just a lesson to teach us there is another way or something better around the corner.

So today I share with you a photo taken in 2010 from another farming property of mine.  A farm that holds many memories of my sons teenage years.  A farm called “Kokoda” between Inverell and Glen Innes NSW.

A farm that brings me joy when I reflect… but also sadness for a time when my husband had broken a vertebrae in his back as a result of a Quadbike farm injury, only 4 years ago.  A serious injury that my dear husband has now thankfully overcome.

Life happens, injuries happen… but it is how we get through it and how we move forward that is important.  It is during this very stressful time that I realised how lucky I really was.  Lucky to have a loving husband and lucky to have 2 sons to support us through this tough time.

Life will always have ups and downs… for each and every one of us.  This photo that I share is a reflection upon times gone by and a reminder to just appreciate the beauty and tranquil surrounds.

Rural Reflection #21…

21 Times Gone By at Kokoda

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I love this photo for the good memories it arouses in me.  The beautiful natural green pastures with a sprinkling of white clover.  The memories of our Hereford cattle beneath those trees chewing their cuds.  Memories of family mustering and enjoying each others company.  Good memories stay with us, wherever we are.

So as life moves on, our memories are retained within, and we pursue new chapters within our lives.  When you reflect on your life… you really can see how successful you are every single day.  Cherish those experiences and enjoy what life brings your way.  You never know what is around the corner.

Take care,

Karen.

“Success is not in what you have,

but who you are”.

~Bo Bennett, Author

 

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

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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

 

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.