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 #14

It may have only been 10mm of rain, but an overall feeling of contentedness… as the rainwater temporarily heals our minds and replenishes our soul.  What is it with that unique fresh smell after rainfall that makes our hearts lighter?  That noise as each drop falls, cleansing our thoughts and easing our worries.  We see an image of freshness and passionately see a vision of hope.  The smell with a crispness in the clean air as the dust is washed away from our hearts.

Diverse landscapes are a common feature across the New England and North West region of NSW in Australia.  This region is located in the north of the state and west of the Great Dividing Range.  This region covers a total area of about 99,145 square kilometres or 12.4% of NSW and is home to 186,200 people.

Agricultural land in the New England and North West region occupies 79,364 square kilometres or 80% of the region.  The agricultural sector in the region includes important commodities, based on the gross value of agricultural production, were cattle ($687 million), cotton ($650 million) and wheat ($482 million).   These commodities contributed to 60% of the total value of agricultural production in the region.

Rocky ridges are very common in this region along with rich basalt soils.  Our property alone has quite a diverse array of landscapes, vegetation and farmland.  From red and chocolate basalt soils, river loams, to a few granite outcrops and steeper vegetated valleys.  The Australian agricultural regions can be very divergent.

Today I share with you a photo taken last week following 10mm of rain.  The only rain we had seen for almost 2 months.  This is a part of my view from the kitchen window every day.  I like this photo as it fills me with a sense of hope that the rain in the eastern hills may come again.  This is a rocky ridge near the boundary of our property.  The large rocks in this bull paddock show how disparate our terrain can be.

Rural Reflection #14…

17 March 2019

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There are 2 Hereford bulls grazing after the light shower of rain that settled the dust.  This photo also overlooks a part of the neighbouring property and shows horses in a distant paddock in the background.  We did not receive any more rain this week, but the feeling and smell of rain were temporarily relished.

This morning I have spent my time baking cakes and a slice for a CWA function.  I do always enjoy my view from the kitchen window even when it is dry.  I always find the beauty within an image and appreciate the smaller things in life.

I imagine myself sitting upon that large rock protruding from the earth… relaxing and appreciating the beautiful views around us.  One day… the drought will break and nutritious green pastures will surround us again.

Until then, I will still focus on the beauty that remains within my life.  I still have a wonderful family to love, a passion for writing to share, a motivation for personal growth and a vision to inspire others every day in their lives.

Take care, Karen.

“Rain has healing powers.

It can wash away your worries

and cleanse your soul.”

~ Author Unknown.

 

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

Farming: A Passion or a Burden

What a challenge to be farming in Australia… with the current heartbreaking drought and then the recent Queensland flood crisis.  It is with heartfelt empathy, understanding and support of strangers that farmers value the care within the community.

This week I have been speaking about farming, the challenges with extreme weather events and the kind generosity within the community.  I had my first speech assignment at Tamworth ToastMasters on Monday night, and then on Wednesday at C.W.A Wanthella Group Council Meeting at Uralla.  Two organisations and two speeches later… agriculture and the environment has been the topic and is still at the forefront of my mind.  Now I shall share my thoughts with you too.

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Agriculture is all around us and a part of everybody’s lives… from the food we eat, the clothes we wear and the water we wash with.  The agricultural industry is an industry worth sustaining for the future food security of our beautiful and clean nation.

Drought is nothing new, but a normal challenge that farmers experience over certain years.  But this is the worst drought in 100 years.  Not only the severity of the dry spell, but the length of time that farmers have endured to date.  The problem is that this drought is so widespread across our country, that farmers options have become far too limited, so their structured “Drought Management Plans” fail to deliver.  Agistment is not an option in this drought, due to the widespread effect, so farmers are forced to sell their livestock or feed the remaining core breeders.

Sadly the ongoing drought is devastating for Australian farmers, as they struggle daily to keep up with the physical demands of feeding their remaining livestock and carting water.  Farmers are working 7 days a week, are feeling exhausted and families are suffering.  Farming has temporarily become a burden, rather than a passion.

The financial strain is consuming our farmers, with increasing farm loans to purchase feed (which has more than doubled in price), the cost of updating or maintaining water infrastructure, machinery maintenance, livestock husbandry costs… let alone the general living expenses and medical bills of their families.  All with no income.

When farmers do not have the money to spend in town, the drought then impacts the local businesses.  The devastating effects of drought, may first consume the farmer… but like a domino effect… everyone is suffering.

The mental anguish torments farmers… as they worry about keeping their stock, not only alive, but productive.  Stressing about how they will pay that next feed bill without any income.  Wondering how to keep strong for their families sake.  Of course mental health is going to be a concern.  Farmers are mostly resilient and somehow manage to cope… but there are organisations that are available to farmers when needed.

One of the main things keeping farmers sane… is seeing the kind support of the Australian community.  The empathy and compassion shown to farmers, has been incredibly uplifting.

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The Australian culture is to naturally help people in need.  Our community spirit and generosity has emerged during this prolonged drought crisis… and it is this that gives farmers the strength and motivation to survive.  We have seen community groups, businesses and individuals… rally for our farmers and support the future of the agricultural industry.

It is the emotional support through these action, that motivate farmers to stay focused despite their livelihood and future being so uncertain.  The monetary donations have assisted farmers financially or the few bales of hay may feed some livestock for a few days.  But the real value is multiplied… knowing that people care about farming… care about our future food security and care about the industry as a whole.  It is just knowing that people do care and want to help.  Farmers are sincerely thankful for this.

Everyone sees photos of hungry stock, parched farmland and stressed farmers in the media…  but the farmer lives it every day, still putting on a brave face.  Farming is a gamble that does rely heavily on the weather.

My heart goes out to the Queensland farmers with the recent flood crisis.  Struggling with drought for many years… then the devastation of flooding.  Nobody could have prepared for this.  More than 500,000 cattle were killed as a result of the Queensland flood and another 150,000 struggling to survive.  With the flood, the cold weather, the mud and no feed… many cattle faced their last moments filled with fear and panic.  Farmers care about the welfare of their livestock… so this has been an incredibly emotional time for them.

Nobody expected the onset of the much-needed rain… to turn into a major disaster.  As the water dried up… just imagine the catastrophe that unfolded.  Farmers feeling helpless as their livestock are washed away due to weakness.  Fences washed away completely or needing major repairs.  Scattered livestock, bogged in mud and dying.  Farmers having to put down some of their livestock to be humane.  Dead animals everywhere.  The emotional task of cleaning up is enormous and overwhelming.

Rain does not normally produce sadness, it is usually welcomed by farmers.  But not in excess causing such devastation.  Once again, Australians rally together to support our farming communities in dire need.  Their compassion, assistance and kind support come unconditionally.  Sometimes the farmer’s gratitude remains unspoken, due to embarrassment or strength of character.  But farmers are truly thankful to the community for their true Aussie compassion and support.

Farmers do have an underlying passion for farming and a commitment to secure the future of the Australian agricultural industry.  We are all connected through agriculture and we are all in this together.  It is the community trust and support, that has become the real saviour.

Farmers are finding the strength and determination to continue to feed and clothe our nation into the future.  One day their resilience will allow for the burden to lift and the passion to be restored.

Take care, Karen

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“A kind gesture can reach a wound

that only compassion can heal.”

~ Steve Maraboli

 

Rural Reflections #10

Drought is draining us all on the land.  Farming has temporarily become a burden rather than a passion.  Our physical ability is feeling strained to keep up with the on-farm tasks and everyday feeding of livestock and carting water for their basic needs.  The financial burden and commitment to pay interest on the increasing debt, upgrading water infrastructure, medical costs and general living expenses has become overwhelming.  The mental anguish torments us within… wondering how we will pay that next feed bill without any income… wondering how we keep strong for our families sake… and still remain sane enough to feel grateful when the community empathises in support with us all.

I am feeling somewhat overwhelmed this morning and finding a way to clear my mind to appreciate farming life once again.  Most probably due to the fact that we are out of tank water again.  Why does that always happen on a weekend and at night-time just when you need a shower?  Getting ready to wash up last night… and then it hits me… I really fall apart when we have no running water.

I am horrible for a moment… I unfairly speak harshly to my husband… why did he not check the tank a few days ago when I asked him.  Then I feel guilty because it is not his fault that the water runs dry right at this very moment.  He has so much to do every single day on the farm… tank water probably was furthest from his mind.

Fortunately, we pack up a few things and drive to my son’s place just so we can have a shower and brush our teeth last night.  Lucky he is very close-by.  It is frustrating when you run out of tank water on the farm.  Short showers are the norm anyway and saving water in buckets as the shower water warms up, has become a habit… every drop is so very precious.  No water to not only cleanse after a hard day’s work on the farm… no water to flush the toilet or wash our hands.  We then revert to a few bottles of drinking water in the fridge… feeling almost wasteful to wash our hands and brush teeth this morning, with our clean drinking water.

Hoping another load of water is delivered very soon and trying to keep sane in the meantime.  I am staying in the office today and avoiding anything outside.  It will be good to catch up on some office work, when I get my head in the right space shortly.  My poor husband will be left once again to feed and water the livestock by himself.  He seems so much more resilient than me.  He doesn’t freak out when we run out of water, unlike me being overcome with anxiety and worry.

So today I would like to share this photo with you… of what I will be avoiding today… the usual drought feeding ritual.  As my husband sets out to feed up and satisfy these hungry cattle in an effort to keep future production on our property… these trusting animals calmly await his arrival.

Rural Reflection #10…

10 Swanvale Kerry Maid P823

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This photo was actually taken in July 2018 when the calves were very young and the mothers struggle a little more to be able to lactate to meet their babies nutritional needs.  Now, this calf has grown up into an 8-month-old calf weaned from its mother, facing life as a replacement heifer in our herd.  A heifer is a young female cow that has not born a calf.  She is a beautiful Hereford calf and her registered name is SWANVALE KERRY MAID P823.  She will grow into a lovely cow one day, producing calves of her very own.

I really like this photo because of the bittersweet image it depicts.  It shows drought feeding which has been an emotional and physically tiring journey, but of significant importance.  But it also shows a beautifully-marked calf with inquisitive trusting eyes.  I also like the little twig of hay protruding from her cute little mouth, quite casually, but looking almost staged.

Despite the stress and hardship farmers suffer in this drought, the reason we keep going is an underlying passion for farming and a commitment to secure the future of the Australian agricultural industry.  It is the trust that the community holds in us all through their support, mateship and empathy… that gives us the strength to persist in a tough industry.  So thank you Australia for your trust and support!

Take care, Karen.

“The support you receive from others throughout life is essential.

It is like the right amount of oxygen to keep the embers of a fire glowing.”

~ Alexander Bentley, Poet

Rural Reflection #8

When all you seem to do is work, work, work… there comes a time when you just crave for a breather.  A time to sit and reflect… to just appreciate your life and the wonderful people around you.  With drought smothering us on the farm and that natural ability to thrive seems to diminish somewhat… alas… there is someone reaching out to you.

They are special compassionate people, friends or strangers, extending an arm to you, listening, thankfully distracting you from an overload of work tasks and allowing you into their own world of thoughts.  It is then, that you truly appreciate the kindness and generosity in these extraordinary people.

That day was only yesterday for me.  A friend that was once a stranger, and her family lifted our spirits… unbeknown to them… and what a powerful effect their presence had created.  A family that moved to Tamworth from the Central Coast about 2 years ago, starting a new life in this beautiful northern region.  I met this quiet woman a year ago through CWA meetings and our friendship developed.  Interestingly, two women from two completely different backgrounds, from city and country, can form a connection and feel comfortable in discussions.  Our husbands then met, both leading different work lives, yet conversation seemed so engaging and relaxed.

Yesterday, I was feeling a little overwhelmed, as tiredness took hold of me and I struggled to fully function in work mode.  As farmers know, we do not have the luxury of work times… our work finishes when the job is done.  We work 7 days a week and with drought now, those hours are extended with earlier starts and working until dark.  We all pray for relief soon, rain to break this horrid drought.

So with work committments piling up and office jobs completed in priority order, I was feeling mentally exhausted.  It was then that I receive a little message from my thoughtful friend, suggesting her family come for a visit.  Honestly, my first reaction in my own mind was… I don’t really have time to socialise, I am so busy with things to get done, the house is a bit untidy, what food do I have in the fridge.  Why do farmers automatically feel guilty when they stop to relax?  I have no idea why, but I know now that it is more important than ever, that we do find a little time out and engage with other people.

Then, I took a breath from my anxiety… and yet it was then organised, on a spur of the moment whim.  My friend, her husband and their 2 sons arrived early evening, with a few dinner supplies in hand.  Her calm gentle nature somehow manages to relax me and I enjoy her normal and compelling conversation.  The men all went to shift a mob of cows, giving us time to catch up and prepare dinner.  The evening just worked out perfectly.

My beef roast had been cooking in the slow cooker, so we only needed to cook some vegetables to accompany the meal.  I do find on the farm, my slow cooker is used a lot because I never know when I will get home, so at least we have some meat cooked for dinner to motivate me.  And tonight it all worked out fine.

The men returned after moving the cows, with the hope of a storm in the hills behind them, but disappointingly it never made it’s way here.  I felt relief for other farmers beyond those hills.  Although we missed out, I was happy for the other farmers in the distance.

Today, I have been reflecting on the importance of friendships and allowing others to reach out to us and welcoming them into our unique world with open arms.  So I am sharing this photo with you all, that was taken a year ago.  It shows a track on the laneway of our property, that we use regularly when moving stock from the lower undulating hills to the valley out the back.  I really like this photo for 2 reasons.  The colours are enticing with cloudy blue sky above the dry landscape with a splashing of trees.  And the windy track as it dips over the hill arouses the curiosity of the unknown destination within the image.

Rural Reflection #8…

08 A Windy Track Beneath a Cloudy Blue Sky

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Yesterday, it was this winding track that brought the men back for dinner.  It made me think about not only the appreciation that we had for this visiting family in helping us, but the appreciation of the country and lifestyle that we were able to share with them.  A rural industry that they are very unaccustomed to, yet keen to experience.  An industry that we are passionate about… giving us the opportunity to share it with them.

Whilst the men enjoyed what the outdoors can offer, my friend and I enjoyed some open heartfelt conversation.  I find it so amazing that although we are new friends, we can connect, enjoy the company and find support in one another.  And our husbands in their own way, can do the same.  My farmer husband with his tough exterior, deep down enjoys sharing his passion with these new friends and relishes in seeking some downtime and laughter.  This visit meant so much to us, in a way that may be difficult to explain, but sincere gratitude expressed, especially at a time when farmers are so very sensitive and stressed.

Kindness does not cost anything and makes a big difference in the lives of those you touch.  No act of kindness, regardless of how small… is ever wasted.  Be kind to everybody that you meet, because everybody is fighting their own battles.  Regardless of our differences, our background, our experiences, our stories… we are all interesting people in city and country… kindness is the key to uniting us and strengthens our soul.

Take care, Karen.

“No act of kindness is too small.

The gift of kindness may start as a small ripple

that over time can turn into a tidal wave

affecting the lives of many.”

~ Kevin Heath

Own Who You Are, With Audacity

Every single one of us is so unique and perfectly created to be somebody or do something important in life.  Why do we cringe and sway away from the real person we truly are?  Just to fit in within our lives… our work, our family, our social circle… and be the “picture” of the person we think we should be and for others to see.

Sometimes it takes us years to figure it out… to realise that this is crazy.  We deserve to be true to ourselves.  We deserve happiness…. the happiness that lies within us… when we allow the real person within us to be revealed.  And when we discover that person, own it and be bold and fearless in your purpose.

Today I would like to give recognition to three other bloggers, that inspire me… with their wisdom, their compassion towards others and the respect for themselves.  Three strangers whom I have never met… yet I feel like I do know them somewhat, through their personal stories and the way they express themselves in words.

RAMBLINGS OF A WALLFLOWER with Dewni, sharing her thoughts and looking for her place in the world.  It was her blog Embrace Your Magic… that initially inspired me today.  Dewni’s advice is simply stated and is perfectionism in itself “Listen to the depths of your heart and embrace your true self”.

We are told throughout our lives, directly and indirectly, until we tell ourselves subconsciously… we need to fit in and be more like everyone else.  That is an unnecessary and enormous burden for us to carry.  But when we realise that we can let go of that false notion of perfectionism within society… and be less like everyone else… life magically changes when we take that step to just be ourself.

On a personal level, I have married a farmer, an honest man that just thrives in the outdoors and has a love for animals and a passion for breeding livestock.  My love for him in supporting his dreams and being a mother to our children has motivated me for 25 years.  But sadly I try to “fit in” within the farming industry, and part of it fits but many parts do not.  I do have a strong belief in the future and importance of the agricultural industry, but I do not have a love for the hands-on farm work.  So in the process of owning who I am… I now know that I can be an advocate for the rural industry and enjoy my country lifestyle and surroundings.  But I know that I do not need to pretend that I am something that I am not.  We all need to work out exactly who we are, enjoy the process and embrace what we find.

Secondly, BITTERSWEET TURNS with Priya, using tales and fantasy in this medium to depict deep emotions and feelings.  I was captivated by this young women’s blog today Will Power and how she describes that “will power is driven by the WHY of your life”.  I think she is spot on with her analogy, as everything we do has a connection to the WHY.  As she says “the key is to find the why” and we need to be very honest with ourselves to do this.

For me personally… “WHY do you want to farm livestock in a drought-ridden environment?”.  Well, I love my husband and I support him entirely with our farming business.  I love administration and the business models that I am able to utilise to sustain our business.  The drought is somewhat a temporary setback, one that in Australia will be present at times and the weather will turn and be on our side again.  I also believe whole-heartedly that the future of the Australian agricultural industry is important to sustain, so we can feed and clothe our nation and export to other countries for the benefit of our economy.  It is this passion that motivates me to continue in the farming industry.

On another level… “WHY do you want to write a blog?”.  Well, it really started as a way to release my own emotions while suffering from depression and anxiety during this current drought on the farm and coping with changes in my life.  I felt compelled to not hide behind the medication, but to voice my experiences with the world, in a hope to help somebody else going through a tough time.  I wanted to reach out… so others knew they were not alone.

I then was able to be myself… and developed a real passion to motivate others to believe in themselves and accept themselves for who they are.  As I touch others lives and have the ability to support someone else, to encourage someone else… my compassion is able to be shared through these means.  I have raised my 2 sons to adulthood and completed the mothering role for years, now I want to share my warm-hearted and loving nature with others.  I may not be able to put it into words verbally and can be a bit of an introvert, so my blog allows me to reach into the depth of my subconscious and share my empathy and inspiration in a unique way.  This is now my gift and my purpose in life… and I love that I can be who I really am.  I am a writer and I have something to say.

My third and final inspiration for today is from Forty Something Life As We Know It where a fellow blogger shares her journey in life and in her words “searching for wisdom”.  I think she under-estimates the wisdom she actually shares with readers.  I really enjoy her regular blog and inspiring messages. Two simple messages that she shared today, really touched me and is relevant to the content that I write of today.

Her blog How it is supposed to be… has this simple message and is so true… “What screws us up most in life is the picture in our head of how it is supposed to be”.  I think we all have this false perception and are sometimes provoked to be something else.  It is our impression that this image is what we strive for.  We need to take a step back, re-evaluate our passion and our interests… and then just be ourselves and daringly move forward.  Life as we know it, may just change for the better, as we discover the “real” person within and contentment follows.

Another message on her blog It just blooms… “A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms”.  I find this to be an impressive analogy to our friends and associates in our lives.  There is no need to compete with each other, to outdo one another or to be better than another.  If we just be ourselves… we will magically blossom and shine.

Sadly it sometimes takes many years for us to find out who we really are… as we grow and mature over the years.  But it is never too late… to really delve into your own personality, embrace it and courageously reveal the “real” you.  It really is worth it, to accept who you are, imperfections and all… I assure you that you are “imperfectly perfect” and wonderfully unique.  It is with audacity… that you can then OWN WHO YOU ARE and success can reign on you.

Take care, Karen.

better

“Be who you are

not who the world wants you to be”

~ Author Unknown

 

 

Rural Reflections #6

With Australia Day on the weekend, it has made me think about our history and appreciate the hard times that our ancestors had lived through.  We are so lucky today to have the freedom, the technology and the many opportunistic events within our lives.  As I reflect back and acknowledge our history, it gives me reason to celebrate my love for Australia, the land, the lifestyle, the democracy and the people.

From our indigenous heritage, to those who have come from all corners of the globe to call our country home, we are united within our dynamic nation, regardless of where our stories began and our cultural diversity.  Aboriginal people had lived on this land, that we now call Australia, for more than 65,000 years.  On 26th January 1788, eleven convict ships from Great Britain, arrived at Sydney Cove, marking the start of a new colony on this beautiful land.  Every year, Australia Day is celebrated as a national holiday to reflect on what it means to be Australian.

Some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have mixed feelings about this day, as some consider it to be a day of mourning or survival of their culture.  As they were the traditional custodians of this land… respect, trust and positive relationships have been promoted through the Reconciliation process.  Australia Day aspires to be a celebration of our nation, gives recognition to all of our history and unites us all as Australian people in our diverse nation.

Farming was important from the very first day that the ships arrived in Australia.  Sheep were one of the first domesticated animals to be introduced into Australia at this time.  Within 50 years of their arrival, sheep had become the main source of income for the Australian agricultural industry.  Originally, sheep were not raised for meat, but for wool, and quite quickly the Australian export of sheep became more profitable than any country in the world.

​​Nowadays, Australia is the world’s number one producer of premium quality fine wool and is the largest producer of all wools by value and volume.  The total wool produced in Australia is 324,900 tonnes greasy (shorn wool prior to treatment).  

There are around 70 million sheep in Australia, producing an average of 4.6kg of wool per head.  The value of wool produced in Australia averages AU$3 billion dollars, which reflects the continuing strong global demand for Australian wool.    

So with the recognition of our history and thinking about sheep in Australia, I thought it would be appropriate to share this photo from our property.  It shows the heritage-listed shearers’ quarters that was on our property when we purchased it.  The photo was taken in April 2017 when green grass actually existed here.

Rural Reflection #6…

06 The Authentic Comforts of a Shearers' Quarters Heritage

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I like this photo because it represents the little comforts of long ago, providing shelter and warmth… and sadly probably not much more than that.  It also depicts in my mind, the hard back-breaking work of the shearers’ resting before another long day’s work.  These shearers’ quarters are no longer in use, but as we drive past it every day on the farm, I acknowledge the history of this rustic structure with original timber walls and the authentic culture that lies within.

We need to all acknowledge the history around us and recognise the impact within our lives.  Historical events have happened, well out of our control… but we have the choice how we react to these events.  Incidents in our past, mould our personality and behaviour.  We have the control to make a difference in our lives and the world we live in.  As an Australian, I choose to enjoy the freedom in our nation, accept the wrongs that have happened in the past, let go of negativity, work hard for an industry that I love and be the best person I can be.  What do you choose?

Take care, Karen.

“We are not makers of history.

We are made by history.”

~ Martin Luther King, Jr 

 

Rural Reflections #5

Loyalty, trust, love and hope… is at the heart of why farmers bear the burden of drought year after year.  Loyalty to our passion in life, our love for the agricultural industry and our love for our family.  This is what motivates us to keep on going, implement our drought management plans and ensure our nation’s future food security.

We trust our agricultural industry to survive so we can continue to feed our great nation and the rest of the world.  We hold hope for a better season as we face hardship and worry every single day.  Farmers love what they do… they care for their livestock, they take pride in managing the land beneath them and they trust in what they are doing to help feed and clothe our nation.

Today I am sharing this photo with you, taken in November 2018, only 2 short months ago.  Our land has suffered the effects of drought, as we had a very dry start to 2018, with the driest first half of a year on record.  Our average annual rainfall is 673mm (26 inches), but in 2018 we only received about half of that… 369mm (14 inches), only 17mm more than the lowest annual rainfall on record.

In the month of November alone, we received 106mm (4 inches)… which had given us hope.  Hope for a break in the dry season and hope for some relief for the land, the livestock and for us.  Sadly it didn’t last for long, but nevertheless, there is light at the end of this tunnel… finally.

Rural Reflection #5…

05 Eager Hereford Breeders Follow With Excitement

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As in stock management, a new paddock awaits this mob of cows and this photo depicts their excitement as the movement takes place.  A failed forage crop (on the left), planted in February last year, raises its head with the much-anticipated moisture.  Following every big drought, now we have the threat of weeds, invading paddocks that were once pasture.  But through on-farm management, weeds can be controlled, once some rainfall is received.  And those clouds above us hold hope that rain may be coming.

As we drive in front of the cattle, calling them to a new paddock… the hot, dry and dusty conditions were not restraining them at all.  I love this photo because it shows the natural quiet nature of Hereford cattle, the ease of stock movement and the trust that these beautiful breeders have in us.  They trust us to provide them with feed to meet their nutritional requirements.  They trust us to provide them with healthy clean water to drink.  They trust us entirely, as they follow eagerly without apprehension, as they contemplate what paddock may await them next.

So even with the over-bearing drought effects and the long-term process to farm business recovery… our loyalty to these animals and our industry drives us every day.  It is with the love of farming, that we do hold hope for a better season to fall upon us soon.

Take care, Karen.

“Loyalty is what makes us trust,

Trust is what makes us stay,

Staying is what makes us love,

and love is what gives us hope.”

~ Glenn van Dekken  

Hardy Hereford Beef is the Boss

Hereford cattle are renowned for their docility or quiet temperament.  But they will also give you excellent feed conversion, hardiness, good fertility traits, easy calving ability and outstanding growth.  These whiteface cattle provide high performance in the beef industry with excellent meat quality and marbling.  The new brand of “Hereford Boss” beef products, grass-fed and a result of consumer demand… lets us taste the difference.

Originating from Herefordshire in south-west England, the british breed of cattle were imported to Australia in 1826 and a year later to mainland Australia.  Further importations in the 1840’s is where it all began.

Hereford cattle are found across Australia in all extremes of environment due to their adaptability.  The hereford has the ability to perform well on a wide range of pastoral conditions, still retaining its good fertility, docility and a top-quality carcase.  The impact of drought on hereford cattle has proved their hardiness and fertility traits.

Their distinctive white face tends to dominate when crossed with all other breeds and was probably the feature, as the popularity of the breed was established.  Hereford and hereford cross weaners still seem to have the most efficient weight gain for age conversion.

Hereford beef has long been recognised for its superb eating qualities.  It is very exciting to have the new “Hereford Boss” brand, the most tender and flavoursome beef product produced in Australia and in the top 10% of all MSA graded beef.  “Hereford Boss” is uniquely grass-fed for life and the most natural beef product available.

The “Hereford Boss” program was developed in consultation with cattle producers, processors and most importantly the end users – consumers.  The program and grading gives consumers the confidence that the eating quality of the breed is consistent.  For more information on Hereford Boss and to taste the difference, click here.

Beef is good for you and it provides nutrients like zinc, iron, protein and B vitamins.  Plus half the fat found in beef is monounsaturated, the same healthy-heart fats found in avocadoes.  Just remember to save our beef industry and eat more beef!

Take care, Karen.

  “7 Days without beef makes one weak”

 ~ Author Unknown

steaks