Rural Reflections #30

This is my first Rural Reflections of 2020 so a photo to depict my year gone by and to capture the sheer determination, resilience and hope that farmers try to maintain in drought.  Our personal strength to endure the battle of drought after 2 years and to still have the vision to sustain agriculture into the future.  Livestock that depends on you to feed them and fulfill their nutrition levels and to maintain future productivity.  This photo captures the true essence of WHY we do what we do.

As we head into 2020 with 2 years of drought now under our belt, our motivation is struggling, we have become weary, yet our resilience is bold.  Every single day without slacking off, our cattle need a daily ration.  Without grass in paddocks to satisfy them, their dependability is entirely upon us to ensure their wellbeing is preserved with drought feeding.

It takes time, energy and money to feed our remaining 260 head of cattle.  260 hungry animals need quite a lot of feed to keep them not only alive but productive to produce next year’s calf.  Farmers possess this tenacity to take charge and do what needs to be done with a vision to see their business operations in years to come.  Debt is heavily incurred to ensure the core breeding herd survives.  Sometimes life gets a little hazy with the burden, but with a deep breath and a reminder of WHY we do it… usually is enough to kick us back into gear.

Water is provided from a bore to fill troughs as dams have been dry for a very long time.  Daily checking is required to ensure maintenance is not required and their access to clean water exists for their health.  Farmers care for the wellbeing of their animals as they have a job to do and each breeding animal is producing their progeny for a future purpose.

Today I share with you this photo specifically to capture the trust that our breeding animals have in us, the persistence that exists in farmers and an appreciation for the courage that it takes to endure the tougher times.

This photo was taken by Peter Hardin from an article written by Carolyn Millet from The Northern Daily Leader in December 2019.  This single photo captures so many feelings, experiences and reality below the real surface.  Tough times express a heartfelt reality for my husband and I, which is depicted in a single photo when they visited our property.

What do you see in this photo?  Perhaps a couple on their property with some cows.

Rural Reflection #30…

30 Leader

Photo Credit: Peter Hardin 071119PHF008

Look beyond the obvious to understand.  Yes, a couple on their property with some of their cows is the forefront of a deeper observation.  This photo depicts so much more:

  • A farming couple who passionately preserve an agricultural purpose and a love for the industry.
  • Mutual trust between the breeding stock and farmer.
  • Desolate farmland that won’t survive without moisture.
  • Farm production for future years.
  • Eyes that mask feelings of angst, uncertainty and emotional torment from within.
  • Gratitude that people care about farm production and farmers.
  • Farmers overcome with physical exhaustion and tiredness but masked with a friendly look or smile.
  • Financial strain taking its toll on the farm business and threatening the farmer’s mental health.
  • Decision-makers with an optimistic vision.
  • Quiet Hereford cows doing their job and loving the extra attention while drought feeding.
  • A couple committed to animal wellbeing and missed celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary with a canceled holiday so they could take care of their livestock.
  • Farmers in need of some time out and a little enjoyment.
  • Big hearts and a love for each other, their cattle and for sustaining the agricultural industry.
  • An appreciation for others who show they care through kind words, letters, cards and encouragement.
  • Hope for a better future.

This dry working environment is tough, unpredictable and overwhelming at times.  Yet farmers see their role and the value they bring to supplying food and fibre for our nation.  We have a love-hate relationship with farming during this time.  The depressing feelings can be overwhelming with the physical and emotional struggles during times of drought.

But farmers have a huge WHY within them.  They love what they do and the variety of tasks that they do on the farm.  They see value and purpose in what they do.  That is WHY they do it.

So spare a thought for each other.  We all have our own interests and serve our own purpose in a variety of ways.  Accept all differences, acknowledge everybody’s value and be kind to everyone.  How you treat people is a true reflection of you… and it is important that we try to bring out the best in each other.

Take care, Karen.

“Photography is an art of observation.

It has little to do with the things you see

and everything to do with the way you see them.”

~ Elliot Erwitt

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

image subject to copyright

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