Gender inequality and who inherits the family farm

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Katherine Bain – Her father says passion, not gender, will be the deciding factor in who takes over the running of the farm.

I have always being proud to say I stand up for what I believe in but when I was approached about this story No country for women: family farms are tough soil for daughters to grow as farmers I ran a hundred miles in the other direction

It was just too close to the bone – from as early as we can remember my sister and I were told my brother would inherit the family farm.

A – because he was male and B because the family surname was the legacy he furthered

In my case despite my brother being an extremely nice person, the fact that he thought he was “entitled” because of A and B effectively destroyed our adult relationship

Super kudos to The Age journalist Neelima Choahan for being dogged in her determination to tell this story 

Quoting from the story in The Age

According to University of South Australia’s Leonnie Blumson​, who is doing a PhD in gender inequality in farming family inheritance, there is a huge disparity in the way sons and daughters are treated.

She says in Australia it is estimated that just 10 per cent of farm successors are daughters.

“It makes the gender wage gap look pretty trivial in comparison,” Ms Blumson says.

“Essentially, sons get the farm, which can be worth millions of dollars, whereas girls tend to just get whatever assets are leftover when the parents die.”

Ms Blumson, who is herself from a farming family, says most farmers are likely to sell the farm if they have a daughter.

As part of her research, Ms Blumson conducted interviews and an anonymous online survey asking farmers’ daughters to talk about their family’s inheritance.

She says one of the hardest things was to get the women to participate. Similarly, few women were willing to speak to The Age about their experience. None would do it on the record.

Ms Blumson says family loyalty often stops women from talking about the gender imbalance.

“Women are conditioned to accept things the way they are and not to speak out,” she says.

“And also speaking out would require them to acknowledge that they have been treated unfairly.”

And mega kudos to the Bain family for being the face of this story – its changemakers like you that ensure my sister and I are an anomaly of the future

“I have grown up on the farm my whole life,” Ms Bain says.

“Helping out dad on the farm and just running around after him, being a shadow for the last 20 years.”

Her role grew from being the main gate opener for her father to helping him muster sheep and move them around.

Her father says passion, not gender, will be the deciding factor in who takes over the running of the farm.

“Katherine was always interested in being outdoors,” Mr Bain says.

“She always had a good eye for livestock, she could pick up a sick sheep in a mob.

“She has always been one-track minded. She wanted to do something in agriculture even when she was quite young. Which path she takes now is up to her.”

When Ms Bain finishes her Bachelor of Business in Agribusiness at the end of this year she will also have a grounding in finance and marketing.

“Every farm is a business,” she says.  “Learning … the ins and out of business, is vital to running a farm.”

Her younger brother, Alexander, 21, is studying architecture.

And though, there is no succession plan in place yet, Ms Bain says it has always been clear which one of the two siblings is more interested in farming.

“I was always the one really excited to go out and help dad from early on,” she says. “Never thought about being anywhere else.

“When you are growing up on the farm you are always outside helping out, you do get dirt in your blood and it does kind of stick with you and you really don’t think about anything else you could do.”

ur generation is better placed to achieve gender equality than any other in the history of humanity. This is our opportunity to grasp, our campaign to join and it is our fight t

You can read more about Katherine here 

Third Grade Hamstring tear – 12 months down the track

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This post delivers the third installment in my earlier promise to share my hamstring avulsion ( third grade hamstring tear) conservative treatment recovery journey.

See previous posts here

My third grade hamstring injury – a right pain in the butt 

My third grade hamstring tear – ham off the bone update

Third grade hamstring tears are classified as both ‘rare and serious’. Dr Google was an invaluable source of information and advice  when I found myself both  ‘rare and serious’ and potentially looking at a very nasty operation. It gives me great pleasure to bring you up to date at the almost 12 months post injury date

In my case conservative treatment appears to be a resounding success. I put this down to getting the best medical advice and rehabilitation specialists and being bloody determined

Bloody determined currently involves

  1. Four hours walking per week
  2. Six to eight hours of fully supervised Gym classes per week which include
    1. Weights
    2. Functional training
    3. Fitball with weights
    4. Balance classes
    5. Pilates stretch
    6. Pilates – my goodness you can even do Pilates with weights
  3. Regular Dr visits
  4. Power of Positive Thinking
  5. Rest and Relaxation

I have gone from being unfit to overexercising without advice ( leading to hamstring avulsion) to being fit and able to do almost anything (if I master the technique and that is one of the reasons you need supervision). Balance remains my one sticking point –  Its about one leg learning to trust the other can hold me up – its a mental thing I am working on

Mental as well as physical health also plays a big part in your ability to stay resilient.

I found the whole experience pretty unnerving from living in a house unsuitable for people with partial disabilities, the severe restriction on activities you can undertake and the isolation of living in the country.

I have renovated my house, grown my network of genuine friends and found other ways to do the things I love. For example I have a beautiful garden but was restricted with what I can actually achieve in it since I had a quad bike accident in 2008.

When I decided to renovate my house to accommodate a short term disabled person I also revisited how I could garden with a dodgy back.

When my original fern house was blown over in a storm the opportunity to build ‘The Orchid Palace’ was born. Its amazing what you can do with re-purposed doors and windows

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   My orchids are flourishing in their new home and they are giving me great joy 

Orchid Palace (2)

The Orchid Palace upgrade also allowed me to remodel the Poultry Palace

These little cuties know how to make me smile 

I have learnt the hard way like physical fitness, mental toughness is the result of a long-term conditioning programme – you can never be too prepared.

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My third grade hamstring tear – ham off the bone update

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Kiama Harbour #lovewhereIive – the perfect place to inspire rehabilitation 

In my Third Grade Hamstring Tear Blog Part One found here I promised to blog the progress of my conservative treatment post the divorce of my right leg hamstrings and the bone (ischial tuberosity) they are attached to. As the literature shows there is little documented about conservative treatment for third grade hamstrings tears with most authors preferring and recommending operative treatment in both acute and chronic cases so I am doing my best to help rectify this.

There is almost no evidence in the literature about non-operative treatment of complete proximal hamstring ruptures in elderly patients. Source 

Bit of background

The hamstring group comprises three muscles – biceps femoris, semi-tendonosus and semimembranosus. The muscles function as movers and stabilizers of the hip and knee The action of these muscles is to bend the knee and extend the hip, especially on faster running.  They also  help to get from a crouched position to an erect position. This refers to movements like getting up from a chair or in sprinting, where the front leg in starting position has to bear the effect or the start. This makes the hamstrings extremely important muscles if it comes to walking and running.

Hamstring tears are divided into the following categories

  • First degree strain is damage to a few muscle fibres
  • Second degree strain is damage to a more extensive number of muscle fibres
  • Third degree strain is a complete rupture of the muscle itself

A Grade 3  is deemed to be rare and serious and ranges from more than half of the fibres ruptured to complete rupture of the muscle.  It causes massive swelling and pain. The function of the hamstring muscle can’t be performed anymore and the muscle shows great weakness. 

OK so mine is a complete rupture embarrassingly caused by falling over in Pitt St in Sydney.

Pitt St

 

The scene of “ham off the bone” event 

I have a very high pain threshold and I think what happened next was I went into shock. I just sort of lay there. I was in gym gear ( I was going for a run but hadn’t started ) Onlookers assumed I was dehydrated and everyone was running around trying find water. This nice man asked me if I would like a hand to get up and I said Yes Please in this tiny little voice.  It wasn’t that painful I just felt weird so I decided I would continue. I walked a block and realised I was living in fantasy world to think I was going to start jogging. It was a bit painful behind the knee, so I iced there which was a waste of time as the injury was under my buttock. I went to an all day workshop the next day which required going up and down steps for meals.  I can assure you I was taking baby steps. The next day I had a heap of things to do in Sydney and baby stepped my way through and then drove two hours home.

It wasn’t getting any better and I decided to consult Dr Google. Even though I wasn’t in a lot of pain and there was no bruising my self diagnosis was either a second or third grade hamstring tear.The doctor agreed and when the radiographer rushed out and got the radiologist to come in and look at what was on her screen I knew it was serious.

Lynne Strong Hamstring MRI

This is a snapshot from my MRI – all that white stuff is not good

Hamstring repair

Surgery repair is usually very successful for athletes but conservative treatment is preferable  for those of us who fall into the “aged” category  

Conservative treatment means I will always have a third grade hamstring tear. So if conservative treatment was the healing of choice I said enough is enough I am going to this properly. It had been one thing after another with my health in the previous six months. First there was the ocular ulcer ( now that’s painful)  and cellulitis in my leg. I wont bore you with the rest. One thing about third grade hamstring tears their rarity excites specialists. Despite having a distal retraction of more than 2 cm ( how far the hamstring had moved from the bone) it was decided for people my “age” conservative treatment was the first choice of action.

What have I done and how am I tracking 

I have done all the right things and I am star patient ( even if I do say so myself).

First I consulted a sport physician and orthopaedic specialist whose area of expertise include hamstrings. I have seen an osteopath and a podiatrist to check my gait. I am   currently seeing a physiotherapist one day a week who is doing dry needling  which I can assure you doesn’t hurt but when a nerve accidentally comes in the equation wow is that a funny feeling. I visit a gym and see a rehabilitation specialist personal trainer. I have been doing this four times a week for four months. My routine includes weights, recumbent bike, functional trainer, fit ball exercises, balance exercises, planks and bridges (specialist loves these). I now have my own program under supervision.

Today I walked ( baby steps, no steep hills and no pathways or roads with a cambre)  for an hour, did weight training and balance exercises for one hour and a one hour Chillax* class.

My biggest setback has been the onset of neurpoathic pain. It was really nasty for a while. The pain was bad enough without the ants walking all over you sensation. The specialist prescribed Lyrica. It aint side-effect free but it appears to be helping so I am putting up with the side-effects. I still have trouble sitting for extended periods of time and the dry needling seems to be helping with that. If I hit a roadblock the next step will be Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) treatment

Diet

Diet has played an important role in my recovery. I have an ‘all or nothing’ attitude to supplying my body with the nutrients needed to maintain optimal health and recover from my injury. I am eating a high protein diet to ensure my body gets the essential amino acids to help my satellite cells and new muscle fibers create the protein needed for repair and rebuilding. The experts say the best sources of protein are meat (beef, lamb, fish, chicken et al), dairy products and eggs; second to those are legumes, nuts and high protein vegetables like peas, broccoli and spinach. On a regime like mine it is hard to get all the protein I need from whole foods so I have added whey protein powder to my diet

whey Powder.jpg  Adding whey protein powder to my diet ensures my body gets the essential amino acids to help my satellite cells and new muscle fibers create the protein needed for repair and rebuilding 

Taking in sufficient dietary amino acids, including essential amino acids, ensures your satellite cells and new muscle fibers can create the protein needed for repair and rebuilding. In addition, the branched-chain amino acids – isoleucine, leucine and valine – found in milk products can play a role in making the process more efficient. These amino acids can enhance protein synthesis within your muscles, particularly when you consume them with a carbohydrate.    

A typical breakfast pre-exercise would be cottage cheese and fruit and 20 grams of protein powder dissolved in a glass of water, another 20 grams of protein powder drink post the gym and just before I go to bed. I love cottage cheese which features heavily in my diet as do vegetables, eggs, other dairy products and salmon  .

Often after my walk I will drop into the Hungry Monkey

Hungry Monkey (9) Adore the Veggie Juice

Hungry Monkey (1)

Scrambled Eggs and Avocado and Haloumi – wonder woman food 

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Once in a while I treat myself to the Blueberry Pancakes  

As mentioned above without surgery I will always have a third grade hamstring tear but if my rehabilitation continues at this level I should be able to walk and hike without hamstring pain.  Whether the neuropathic pain  continues is anyone’s guess at this stage

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The road to recovery is one plank at a time 

Footnote*

A Chillax class is designed to help you chill out and relax using stretch, relaxation and breathing techniques.  It is designed to de-stress and unwind

 

My third grade hamstring injury – a right pain in the butt

Its now four months since my right leg hamstrings and the bone they were attached to decided they would like to divorce and get some distance between each other. Now in a way I don’t blame the hamstrings, fancy been attached to something called a ischial tuberosity.

Third grade hamstring tear

Third grade hamstring tears are classified as both ‘rare and serious’. Dr Google was an invaluable source of information and advice  when I found myself both  ‘rare and serious’

Grade 3 Hamstring Tear

A grade 3 hamstring tear is a severe injury involving a tear to half or all of the hamstring muscle. You may need crutches to walk and will feel severe pain and weakness in the muscle. Swelling will be noticeable immediately and bruising will usually appear within 24 hours.

Diagnostic MRI may also be used to specifically identify the grade of hamstring tear and its exact location. Source 

You can imagine I wasn’t too thrilled when Dr Google kept assuring me major surgery was on the horizon. This type of injury normally happens to people who enjoy extreme sports like Mick Fanning or Alberto Tomba  or Alisa Camplin and these people do need surgery if they have any hope of getting back to the sport they love.

 

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Hamstring happily married to Ischial Tuberosity  

Hamstring tear

Hamstring and Ischial Tuberosity Divorced aka Ham off the Bone aka Proximal Hamstring Avulsion 

Having a proximal hamstring avulsion with more that 2 mm of displacement the literature wasn’t very positive for me

If a proximal hamstring avulsion has more than 2 mm of displacement, a surgical consultation for reattachment is recommended. Early surgical repair can yield superior results over both conservative treatment and delayed surgical repair of proximal hamstring avulsions.

The recovery process following surgical repair can take from 6 to 12 months or longer, depending on the severity of the initial injury and required surgical intervention.

As I said it’s a rare injury and not too many orthopaedic surgeons touch it. So I was very grateful to the bloggers who directed me to OrthoSport Victoria where I saw the adorable Brian Devitt and very lucky to have sports physician Dr Paul Bloomfield (who works with David Wood) visiting a town near me fairly regularly.

Because of my “age” (I so hate it when I get classified as elderly. Don’t they know 60 is the new 40) both the surgeon and the physician recommended conservative treatment (that’s the medical term for wait and see)

The reason being

‘The surgery involves an incision that is either vertical or horizontal under the gluteal fold.  After identification and neurolysis of the sciatic nerve, transosseous tendon reinsertion to the pelvis is performed with three or four metal or resorbable suture anchors.’

All this means they cut you open under your bum cheek and apparently healing is dodgy in this area for “elderly” people and they are not crazy about surgery so close to the sciatic nerve Hamstring surgey.jpg.

However there is almost no information available for people like me on what the road to recovery looks like with conservative treatment and as its rare not too many medical professionals have been involved in the rehab process. I have been very lucky to have have wonderful medical support and conservative treatment may just work for me.

So this is Part One of my story to share my road to recovery journey with other “elderly” people and the not so elderly who choose the road less travelled.

and the road to recovery is one plank at a time

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Do our politicians care about us?

Its pretty easy  to think about the world and be cynical. I know at my age I can certainly write a list of the people who have let me down.

But we all know selling despair, ruminating  on the people you wished hadn’t crossed your path and on what could have been gets us nowhere. On the other hand selling hope and focusing on a bright future by engaging and working with the people who share your vision keeps the fire burning in our bellies

I keep the fire burning in my belly by surrounding myself with exciting young people. Young people in schools, young farmers and young activists for social and environmental justice .

Last Friday night  I attended the NSW ACT Young Achiever Awards to support Young Farming Champions Anika Molesworth and Joshua Gilbert who were both finalists in the Environment and Sustainability Category   

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Anika Molesworth Winner of  the Environment and Sustainability Award

Millennials and the generation before them don’t exactly  get the best wrap and are often described as self absorbed .  Reading the bios of the finalists in all categories  certainly drew everyone’s attention to a group of young people and their support networks who are turning  the self absorbed label on its head.

Why theses young people do what they do  and how they do it is both fascinating and inspiring.   Last year’s winner in the opening speech said something that gave me food for serious reflection. This young lady is a very passionate member of AYCC who lobbied their peers to sign up and vote at the last election. She quoted some phenomenal numbers as a testimony to their success.

She expressed her motivation by saying  something along the lines of “politicians don’t care about young people and young people don’t care about politicians”. She went on to say part of the mission of AYCC is to show young people how important it is to care about politicians and what they do and don’t stand for and to vote for the one’s that align with their values

Do politicians care about young people.? Do they care about us?  I think they do but I can certainly understand why people in general wonder what they do stand for. How do we fix a system where it appears that too many of our politicians only care about the needs of big business and the powerful people and not enough about the quality of life and well being of everyday Australians?.

AYCC have got it right. It’s up to everyday Australians to hold our politicians accountable and that starts with making sure we have the right politicians in office and support fiercely the one’s who align with our values.

Congratulations to Anika Molesworth, a fierce campaigner for #youthinag and the viability  and resilience of Australian farmers and social and environmental justice

Anika’s acceptance speech – its easy to see why she is in demand as a keynote speaker 

 

 

Leadership is not for the faint of heart

Over the years I have written a number of posts on leadership and from the robust discussions that followed the vocal majority in agriculture seem to prefer the notion leaders are born not made.

I am currently attending a number of courses/events that pitch themselves as Leadership Courses

It will be hard for them to trump one of the best experiences of my life yesterday which was attending (with 1500 other people ) the Simon Sinek “Start with Why” Leadership forum .

As Simon quite rightly shared with us

“how can we aspire to be a leader when we cant all agree what leadership is?”

Donna Digby who bought 18 women in the agriculture sector a combined 20,000 km to Melbourne to hear their hero Simon speak is the perfect example of the definition of leadership Simon promotes.

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As the motivational speaker and author explained, it really boils down to three things: selflessness, empathy, and an ability to manage anxiety on your team. Here is a look at each trait, and why it is so valuable for you to cultivate. 

1. Selflessness

People like to be around people they trust–it’s as simple as that. “Humans are constantly assessing people and organizations around them, and if they feel they’re selfish, they’ll keep a safe distance,” said Sinek. On the other hand, people tend to want to associate with people and brands characterised by an element of selflessness. Creating that human connection–building trust-is key, though it does take time. Just remember: You’re responsible for setting that tone, Sinek warned. “When the environment is one of a leader who [will] sacrifice, the way people respond is by sacrificing in return. Being a leader is a lifestyle decision; it means you’re willing to take care of others.” 

2. Empathy

Speaking of taking care of others, Sinek added, “the more we do good for each other, the more we want to do good for each other.” He recounted the time he picked up loose papers for a man when he saw them slip out of his bag. The man was grateful, but Sinek said his actions went further than that. They motivated someone who saw them to do something kind. Kindness begets kindness, Sinek went on. It’s holding the door for someone, making a new pot of coffee, and letting someone into your lane. Putting others ahead of yourself-“that is the practice of leadership,” he said. 

3. Grace under fire 

Stress and anxiety are enough to make people dishonest and to sabotage their performance at work. When your body is flooded with cortisol, or the chemical that produces anxiety, “you biologically restrict empathy and trust,” Sinek said. Don’t be that kind of boss–if you’re the one inducing fear and anxiety in your employees, you’re never going to have their trust. The solution is clear: Work on managing your own stress and “be the leader you wish you had,” he said. Your team will appreciate it.  Source 

Simon compared being a leader to being a parent.

‘You accept the responsibility  for the growth of another human being, often  making many thankless sacrifices. Leadership is a hard gig and its not for the faint of heart.’

Wonderful #sketchnote summary of Simon’s talk by the very talented Matthew Magain

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As I watch a lot of the current nastiness on Twitter particularly in the dairy industry I am so saddened to see far too many people creating a toxic environment where people don’t feel safe and the bullies rule. Its time for us all to become leaders and see our role as nurturers of others  and get our buzz not from the hurt generated but take pride in the growth and confidence building of others. Its time to get high on watching others thrive

The TED talk that made Simon a legend

Young people in agriculture lobby for action on stuff that matters to them

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I am a very different person to the person I was when I began my mission ten years ago to have my fellow farmers proud and loud of what they do and the industries they produce food and food and fibre for

I credit that change in the way I think and act to the young people I have met on my journey

I sell hope, they sell hope, together we have started a movement to create a new era of communication and transparency from the agricultural sector between farmers and the community. This allows farmers to raise awareness of the challenges they face to provide Australian families with safe, affordable and healthy food now and in the future.

Our programs and activities open the door for the community to ask questions and receive answers to questions on stuff that matters to them.

We do this because deep down our farmers feel unloved loved and undervalued. Our programs and activities provide matchmaking opportunities – a dating service if you like for farmers to connect with, and partner with the people in the community who love and appreciate them and people in the community who will love and appreciate them when they meet them

We do this by

  • designing and delivering events and activities through partnerships between young people in the agriculture sector and young people in schools using art and technology and two way conversations.
  • building capacity and the confidence of young people in the agriculture sector to share their story and deploy them using innovative vehicles such as The Archibull Prize to deliver agriculture’s key messages in a way that resonates with the audiences they reach with the mantra “People don’t care what you know until they know you care”

Whilst  I am very proud of this legacy, deep down its these young people that light my fire. On their journey they have developed the confidence and courage to share their story and lobby for action on stuff that matters to them

Let me introduce to Anika Molesworth and Kirsty McCormack – two young women in agriculture with a high profile in the media blazing a trail for us all

Farmers believe in climate change, so why don’t the politicians who say they represent them? 

“Anyone sitting in Parliament saying they represent rural and regional Australia should be figuring out how the decisions they make today are going to determine whether our farms are profitable in the years to come.”

“If we want something done about this then we need to do more than whisper across the back fence. It’s time to start shouting, and if our politicians fail to listen and catch up with the times then they risk being left behind.”  Anika Molesworth

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Social Media for the future 

“We’re a generation who don’t want to sit down and read facts and figures, we want to hear from individual people, and hear their stories,” Kirsty McCormack

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#youthinag #stuffthatmatters #YFC #ArchiullPrize