This week in retrospect – the beautiful and the ugly

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Every time we choose courage, we make everyone around us a little better and the world a little braver. And our world could stand to be a little kinder and braver. Brene Brown.

Social media showcases the extremes in people’s behaviour and values and the extremes can be both very beautiful and inspiring  and very ugly and depressing.

Senator Penny Wong modelled beautiful and inspiring  this week when she said this about the rescue mission in Thailand

“Isn’t it just wonderful news, and what a wonderful relief for parents, particularly for family and friends,” Senator Wong said.

“But can I say this? In a world where we see a lot of bad news, a lot of tragedy, isn’t it wonderful to see the power of co-operation and the lengths people will go to, the courage people will show, to help a fellow human being, and I think it is a cause for inspiration and optimism.” Source The Australian

She retweeted this beautiful tribute to Former Thai navy seal Saman Guana who died at Tham Luang cave.

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and then there is this. What can I say beyond this that its  #NASTY #ABHORRENT #UNNECESSARY #POORTASTE

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and then I read about Steve Parish .  Wildlife photographer Steve Parish went from mansion to shed, but has found a new focus. His photos have always wowed me. Now his new ethos inspires me. Steve says it’s important to work on yourself to become a great photographer.

“You need to do more work on yourself than on your creative skills — you really need to know who you are and where you want to go with your photography,” he said.

“If you want to bring some sort of refocus to humanity, then you are already successful, but if you go along the path of ‘look at me’, you will just be one of 1.6 billion people uploading to social media everyday … and best of luck to you. We all really need to be in charge of our own joy.”

I am keen to be in charge of my own joy and encouraging a culture of people being kind to each other.

 

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Fiona Simson is wearing her hard hat of courage – what a great fashion look

Murdoch press is globally recognised as communicators of climate change conspiracies theories  so when I saw this personal attack by The Australian on Fiona Simson this week I got really excited.  One thing change agents can be certain of is that as messengers, shots will be fired at them.

“My advice to the NFF and Simson is to stick to your knitting. Getting into bed with climate change enthusiasts is a quick route to the introduction of a raft of new policies that will damage the farming community.” Source  The Australian 3rd July 2018  ‘You’re fashionable Fiona, but get a grip on the facts’

Well done Fiona and National Farmers Federation.  Finally we have a voice promoting 21st century thinking and technology to solve 21st century issues. Its exciting that both  the movers and shakers and policy makers are listening and it would appear the climate change deniers are getting nervous.

As reported in The Digital Journal  Climate change is ‘up close and personal’ for Australian farmers

‘Simson is enthusiastic in her approach to working with the government on this energy plan and sees it as an opportunity for all farmers across Australia. She says the NEG framework could allow farmers to band together, and small communities to band together, to build their own energy infrastructure – and that is a great dream that can be fulfilled.’

Collaboration is the key to success. If we exclude perspectives, we limit possibilities. We need everyone’s talent and voice if we are going to create a better world. And if we are going to drive change and a new era of collaboration in agriculture – it’s going to take a lot of courage. We are all going to have put our hard hats on and be in it for the long haul.

Fiona Simson has courage in spades. What a legacy this farmer and her team is forging for prosperity of Australia.

#couragetochange #climateaction #strongwomen

Aimee Snowden – a wonderful example of what we get when we invest in our youth

I just got off the phone  from the dynamo that is Aimee Snowden. Aimee created  Little Brick Pastoral to celebrate Australian agriculture through unique photos of a Lego® farmer and show off the diversity of jobs in the agriculture industry.  The Lego® farmer is a labour of love and she is just one of many great young people in agriculture volunteering their time to promote the industry they love for the benefit of us all

I just love young people in agriculture. Young people not only understand the importance of collaboration they actively seek it out

We all know that collaboration is the key to building a better food and fibre future. We know that means learning how to collaborate with different stakeholders.

  • Be that with government
  • Non-government organisations
  • Our urban counterparts
  • Our fellow farming industries or
  • with our supply chain partners.

Because if we pick and choose who we collaborate with we limit our possibilities

We know that collaboration

  • saves effort and $
  • creates opportunity
  • increases connectivity
  • builds community
  • can solve common priorities

Yet how often do we see our sector genuinely reach out and work with others for the common good. Not as often as we would like and not as often as needed to drive real change

This is the reason Picture You in Agriculture works with young people –  they  have seen agriculture make the same silo orientation mistakes over and over and they know change means disrupting this mindset.

What they lack are the skills sets to harness others who need a little push

Our young people want to learn how to influence, and how engage

Our young people want to be confident, independent thinkers and they are grabbing every opportunity to learn and grow

And if you have a big idea what better way to do it than the Heywire Trailblazers program  that Aimee is wax lyrical about.

Trailblazers is an opportunity for people, aged 18 – 28, who are implementing positive change in their region, to have their work celebrated nationally. Successful applicants receive an incredible package of support that includes having their story told on the ABC and a trip to the Trailblazer Lab in Canberra next February.

Applications for Trailblazers are open until July 13.

Everything you need to know to apply can be found here 

And you may just get a ‘deadest’ mentor like Young Farming Champion Laura Phelps 

I was paired with deadset legend, Phelposs (or Laura Phelps as she is more commonly known), who has been so generous with her time and advice and recently secured a place for me to speak at a Young Farmers Business Forum. Read about Trailblazer Alana Black and her Fledgling Farmers concept here.                              See the video here

Please help spread the word – Trailblazers another great opportunity for young people in rural and regional Australia to learn and grow

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#Auspol Bashing – is there a better way to get our messages across

Twitter can be a very nasty space and I readily admit I found this twitter feed between Cam Parker and Fiona Simson refreshing

 

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#auspol

There is so much frustration out there and like many I thought a Malcolm Turnbull led government would take the lead on real Climate Action. I am disappointed. Australian farmers en masse are disappointed

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How do we get our messages across in a respectful way.

How do we make our point without more #asupol bashing.

Perhaps a little humour

 

udder disgrace

Read Fiona Simson’s opinion piece “Drought framework must be flexible, fair and free of red tape”  here

 

The Sheep Live Export Trade is an ethical challenge – one farmer’s thoughts

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Supplying 50,000 Australians with the milk for their breakfast everyday is a noble role – Cows at Clover Hill meander home to the dairy 

There has been a lot of robust conversations about the Sheep Live Export Trade recently and for good reason. As a farmer I have made decisions to send dairy heifers to Vietnam to dairies that I knew were run to very high standards. I have chosen not to send heifers to other countries not because I was concerned about animal cruelty but because our heifers were raised to produce a lot of milk from high quality feed and those countries didn’t have the capacity to provide the feed that would allow our heifers to thrive in their environment. We chose exporters with an excellent reputation and where able to get feedback on their new life in Vietnam.  The dairy export trade is an opportunity trade for dairy farmers. As far as I am aware no-one in Australia is growing dairy heifers specifically for the export market. It is a very important market when dairy farms in Australia are in drought and can mean the difference between dairy cattle being sold for meat in this country or living out their lives in developing countries providing nutritious milk for their families.

I am a farmer and like the majority of Australians I know very little about the live sheep export trade beyond what I read in the press. What I do know is our sheep are providing a very important protein source for people in developing countries. Rob Egerton-Warbuton a sheep farmer from Western Australia has written a very seminal piece that truly moved me. You can read it here.

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Jen Egerton-Warbutton Source

I first came across Rob and his wife Jen when we were both finalists in the National Landcare Awards in 2010. When I heard their story I was fascinated. I loved the way they farmed and the way they talked about it. So I was very keen to read what Rob had to say. Its a story from the heart and gives great insights into how the majority of livestock farmers feel about their animals and their commitment to give them the best whole of life expereince they can.

“To farm livestock is very hard. Every animal we bring to life through our husbandry will die, and that weights heavily on every farmer. My wife gets very emotional when they leave on the truck” Rob Egerton Warbutton Source 

Livestock farmers in Australia play a very important role. We cannot feed all Australian families on the land we have by growing plants only. (See footnote) Nor can we feed all  Australian families on the land we have if every farmer followed organic farming principles.

So my thoughts on the Sheep Live Export trade. Human beings can do dreadful things to human beings. Rick Thorburn certainly reminds us of that but nobody is suggesting we shut down the Foster Care system.  We are outraged when we read about child abuse but nobody is suggesting we shut down Catholic Churches . We are outraged when we read about Harvey Weinstein et al but nobody is suggesting we shut down the Movie business . We are outraged when we read about students being shot in schools in America but nobody is suggesting we shut down schools. This is very sobering reading

The Sheep Live Export Trade system is broken, it must be fixed. Whose role is it to make sure that happens?  This is an extract of what Rob has to say…….

Animal welfare and the policy environment around it is 100% the responsibility of farmers. The problem is in my view we haven’t done a very good job of it. We tend to be too protectionists of our practices, too guarded about our feelings, and too resistant to change. ………..

Its clear why farmers need to be involved in animal welfare and the policy that surrounds it. Its for the protection of animals, not from farmers but from those who imagine they protect them without understanding how they live. Source

Its a very emotional issue and

Being ethical is a part of what defines us as human beings. We are rational, thinking, choosing creatures. We all have the capacity to make conscious choices – although we often act out of habit or in line with the views of the crowd. Source

 In the digital world  it would appear we are all instant experts with strong opinions and too often simplistic solutions.  This excellent article from the team at Agrieducate asks the question  SHOULD AUSTRALIANS TAKE ON THE RESPONSIBILITY OF LIVE EXPORT, AND ARE WE READY TO?

 Below is an extract under the heading Burden of Responsibility 

We are either responsible for the welfare of sheep (in good times and in bad) or we move this responsibility offshore and accept the standards of third party countries to continue a trade dominated by Australia.

If we do accept this responsibility everyone needs to be in the game. Political responses to simply appease generalised conservative and rural voters by the Nationals and Liberals, or urban and greens voters by Labor and the Greens won’t fix this problem. So if we do take on this responsibility, there needs to be political maturity in deciding on a bipartisan approach, with concessions of both sides of the debate. This political maturity is arguably not there, and needs to develop quickly.

It can’t continue to be “greenies” vs. “hard working farmers” or “animal rights activists” vs “cruel farmers”, both sides need engaging about accepting responsibility for the welfare of the sheep and improving the regulation of the entire supply chain. Continuing as adversaries propagates political immaturity for cheap votes, and fails the welfare of sheep, the livelihoods of farmers and ourselves as Australians.

So, irrespective of your political views and the level of political readiness take the first step and ask yourself this “am I comfortable shifting our welfare responsibility offshore, or am I comfortable taking on the responsibility of welfare here in Australia”?

There’s no right answer, and no intended underhand comment designed to influence your thought, but it is a tricky question and it must sit with our individual values before this issue will be resolved.

Pressing problems which require urgent action today are too often the direct result of a lack of action in the past.  We rarely get the perfect outcome but as human beings its important to be consistent in our judgements. I don’t have the answers but I would like to see Australia step up and take on the ‘Burden of Responsibility” and set the bar for animal stewardship across the world

Footnote

  1. 93% of the food consumed in this country is produced by Australian farmers
  2. less that 6% of Australia is suitable for growing crops
  3. Australia farmers feed  everyone here and more than 40 million people around the world

 

Never underestimate the Power of Women in Agriculture and their humble icon the scone

I have no words. Best thing I have spotted for a long time #gogirlfriend

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This is what Fiona says in her Instagram post that has attracted so much attention

Recently I heard someone I admire say something very dismissive and sarcastic about how lovely it would be if only scones could save the world. The implication being that baking is far less important than actual political action and meaningful debate. That may be partly true. But I’d like to take a moment to stand up for scones. They’re cheap and simple and this round version is categorically Australian. They bind the Country Women’s Association together, which in turn has networked and supported rural Australian women for almost a century. They’re great for afternoon or morning tea, which represents a break in your day to stop, drink tea, nibble a scone with jam (or lemon curd) and breathe. And I think that perhaps baking a batch of scones shouldn’t necessarily be seen as non political. My goodness we are saturated in capitalism and surrounded by commercialism and told every day to devalue the domestic (because it is female) and so dammit I will go and make scones and feel powerful doing so. Not only can we transform basic ingredients into something delicious, no one can tell us what is meaningful and purposeful, we figure that out all by ourselves. Scone baking as revolution. 3 cups self raising flour + 80gm butter + 1 cup milk. Mix, not too heavy handed (my grandma used a knife), roll and cut, then bake hot, 200 degrees, 20 mins. Teach your daughters and your sons and maybe just maybe scones can save the world, or, at least, mine.

 

 

Central Australia – an awe inspiring kaleidoscope of colour and texture

After an evening of superb food, great company and sleeping under the stars in the riverbed in my swag, albiet with plenty of merino wool to keep me warm and not overthinking how close those dingo howls were it was time for Day Two of my Larapinta Trail experience

The full 223km of the Larapinta Trail spans between the Old Telegraph Station and Mt Sonder. Day 2 took us to the Ormiston Gorge to trek the Ormiston Pound circuit.  Regarded as one of the best walks of the Larapinta Trail it offers sensational views of the Chewings Range and Mount Giles. It can be a little challenging with some rock hopping and takes approximately four hours to complete. Setting off, the trail winds around scenic slopes, dropping into the Pound and returning along Ormiston Gorge via the main waterhole. We also took the detour to Ghost Gum Lookout.

Ormiston is also a sacred site for the Western Arrernte people. It’s name in Western Arrernte is Kwartatuma.

Ormiston Pound Walk Map

Day 2 Larapinta iPhone (3)

First port of call was the snack bar and there in the middle was my ideal weight maintenance nemesis – chocolate bullets. I wish I could say I stayed strong and resisted the temptation but I would be fibbing. You will be pleased to know I did also grab a couple of bananas.

We made it to the top of the Pound Walk savouring the beautiful weather

Day 2 Pound Walk to Ochre Pits (14) Our  wonderful guide Clare pointed out all the highlights as far as the eye can seeDay 2 Pound Walk to Ochre Pits (22)

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There were plenty of opportunities for me to practice my rock hopping

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I’ll bet this young lady regretted doing it in thongs. OMG

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Clare leads the way to the Ghost Gum Lookout

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Where the view was indeed outstanding – though I must admit I kept away from the overhanging edge

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then the girls (sans Lynne) braved the chilly waters and took a dip or two

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and at the end of the day I was smiling from ear to ear with a very sunburnt nose tip

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Bring on Day 3