Happy hens – a question of ethics

 

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I recently read The Circle which I note is being released as a movie later this year. You can find Margaret Attwood’s review of the book here  .

I am also watching ‘Conituum” on Netflix – not exactly riveting television but definitely  some very interesting reflections on ethics and what the future could look like depending on the decisions we make in the here and now .

“Look closely at the present you are constructing. It should look like the future you are dreaming.” …… Alice Walker

We are being asked to make many of the decisions now that are being played out in The Circle and Continuum and in movies like Eye in the Sky 

The Happy Hens caged egg scenario is the current example. Its a tough world out there for the hen whether she lives in a cage, a barn or gets to graze on pasture.

Life is risky for her.Being in the situation where I do know the stats – there are genuine reasons to house hens in cages – lets not beat up the farmers who do this well.

Are caged hens happy – would you be happy living in a cage?. Your kidding you say yet lots of us do live in “cages” in fact we probably all do.  We have many restrictions on our everyday lives and everyday those restrictions increase and others are making our decisions for us.

For me its time to stop demonising the farmer and the system and get comfortable about the choices we make everyday. Most of the time there are no right and wrong choices just the best choices at that point in time.

The future isn’t a place we just get to go – it is a place we get to create.  Together.

Change, change your life, take it all

As anyone who reads my blog knows 2017 is the year I have chosen to put myself on the top of my To Do List.

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As is typical of me I have risen to the challenge I have set myself in an over zealous  fashion  with the result being I am now an expert in ramifications of grade 3 hamstring injuries and rehabilitation 

The less physical aspect of my investing in me To Do List involves a number of personal and professional development courses. 2016 finished with me getting a scholarship to undertake the  Women in Advanced Leadership program.

The feedback from my mentors was “awesome Lynne but do you want to do a Women Only course”. I wasn’t sure. But what I found when I attended the first face to face workshop was women are pretty special  people. The was a strong focus on soft skills   and giving every opportunity for the participants to share their story .

What truly resonated with me was the women who had phenomenal personal and professional development challenges  who made the decision early on to decide whether they  wanted to either to sit around and blame the rest of the world or see their journey and all its hardships as  a character building learning platform. It was so inspirational to be surrounded by so many women who had made the decision to not be a victim looking for hero to save them.    

Mastermind is on the back burner but getting ready for it and having a major setback has only inspired me to find a personal trainer and get the rehab I deserve.

Investing in me is turning out to be an “interesting” journey

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Putting yourself at the top of your To Do list

I am have never been much good at the work-life balance thing. Nailed the work side but always struggled to get a life. When I made 2017 the year I invested in me and signed up for a diversity of personal and professional opportunities I was starting to feel very comfortable I might start to nail  ‘get a life’

When Zoe Routh invited me to be part of her new Mastermind program I jumped at the opportunity not just because I am a big admirer of Zoe, the Larapinta Walk component was a huge incentive to get fit. I approached the getfit thing with great gusto. I loved it and the places it introduced me to.

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Serpentine Gorge Larapinta

Three months down the track I now find myself with a very serious hamstring injury  (grade 3 with avulsion), with surgery and a brace looking more likely every day and Larapinta definitely off my agenda. Whatever I have done my scans have peaked the interest of the medicos and I am having no trouble getting into see the experts fast. But enough of the negatives.

When fitness becomes a high priority you rethink everywhere you go and are always looking for opportunities to get some training  in and do it in beautiful places of which Australia has many and it has certainly opened my eyes to how wonderful life can be

Let me share with you some of superb places I have been as a result of my get-fit campaign

Let’s start with the Bombah Point Eco Cottages. In January I had the great pleasure of being the MidCoast region’s Australia Day Ambassador. I had spent almost zero time on the MidCoast and knew very little about the region. So out of respect I decided to take a week and drive up and explore the region.

My first stop was the Bombah Point Eco Cottages  an absolute gem recommended by my business coach. The cottages are located 2.5 hours north of Sydney (4.5 hours drive from my bit of paradise) nestled in the Myall Lakes National Park between Seal Rocks, Hawks Nest/Tea Gardens & Bulahdelah.

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My little cottage

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was located adjacent to the entrance to the walking trails and how good were they. So good even the day it got to 46 degrees as soon as the temp dropped 10 degrees and it started to sprinkle I was out there soaking up the atmosphere and providing fodder for endorphin release

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The Eco Cottages are a new venture for host Duncan and his wife Suzie. As the former environmental manager for Cotton Australia, Duncan has a special affinity with native vegetation and the importance of biodiversity  as central to Australia’s cultural identity. Duncan is determined to get it right using a combination of protection and rehabilitation of remnant vegetation and traditional knowledge transfer. Its clear there is no shortage of passion, commitment and vision.

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Everything about Bombah Eco Cottages is designed to make your visit a lifelong memorable experience, with access to the vegie garden and freshly laid eggs from the chook pen .

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The chook palace

and when you visit don’t forget to take the ferry ride and

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visit

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and

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 the Tea Garden’s Boatshed

My 1st, 2nd and 3rd courses where sooooo divine

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sit and soak up the atmosphere

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From here I headed to Forster where the locals describe it as God’s Country….. mmh I could certainly see why they could lay claim to that. Stay tuned for my pictorial of the Forster Region

In the meantime I am taking inspiration from this quote

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Little vs Big Agriculture – are objective views lacking??

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Foodies I need help.

The Picture You in Agriculture team has paired up with the Intrepid Landcare tribe to create and deliver a program that builds on the success of the Art4agriculture initiatives – The Archibull Prize and the Young Farming Champions to help young people in schools get their heads around the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and take local action

Schools participating in the Kreative Koalas program ( note landing page only at this stage)  will partner with Young Sustainability Ambassadors (Expressions of Interest open here  ) and investigate and reflect on seven of the UN Sustainable Development Goals

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We are finding ‘Responsible Production’ tricky. Coming from generations of primary producers that these days would be seen as Big Agriculture, my mission is to show the Little vs Big Agriculture story is not a binary argument – Good vs Bad or Romantic vs Reality or Sustainable vs Non-Sustainable or Non-Sustainable vs Sustainable but a continuum. I am looking for objective views and some great cases studies on both Little and Big Ag.

Landline is an obvious choice for content but no-one has yet identified OZ food bloggers/journalists of the likes of  Tom Philpot from Mother Jones, Nathanael Johnson from Grist  and  Helena Evich from Politico for me

Do we have food journalists that write level-headed assessments of Australian agricultural systems in plain English?  If the answer is yes – please share them with me

HT Richard Heath and Dr Heather Bray

Nobody is perfect – least of all me

I am a big fan of Will Marre and look forward to having the opportunity to participate in person in one of his seminars.

My post today is a section of his latest newsletter. Its good advice for me and I hope you enjoy it too

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Nobody is perfect . . . at least not by our personal standard of perfection. The most we get in life in anything that we seek is 80% of what we believe we want.  If we are getting 100%, it won’t last. But 80% is a lot.  It’s all we need to be happy and loving.

When we fall in love all that we see is the 80% that we are crazy about.  We ignore the other 20% of annoying habits.  We create the illusion that we have found the perfect person. This wonderful illusion drives us to constantly ask ourselves what can I do to make this person happy. We become faucets of kindness, patience and thoughtfulness. We literally create an ecology of love.

But over time, when the love-fog caused by dopamine and serotonin lifts due to the realities and challenges of life, it is common to start focusing on the 20% of the perceived flaws, faults and imperfections of our beloved.  It isn’t that they have changed. Rather it is how we view them that has changed.  Instead of a faucet, we become a drain.  The whirlpool effect is caused by either silent or vocal judgments, impatience, and criticism.  And what was once sacred can become profane.  Instead of asking “What can I do to make the person I love happy?” we focus on what they can do to make us happy.

Love is verb.  It is what we do that creates love.  The feeling of love is the outcome of a choice to be irrationally positive about the people you deeply love.  Nobody wants to be viewed realistically.  We all want to be valued.  We all need people in our lives who see our highest and best self. And we need to see the highest and best of others. Committing to love someone’s 80% of their best self, and choosing to ignore the 20% of their unfinished self, is a sacred choice.

One last thing.  Finding someone who is 80% perfect for you as a friend or partner is neither easy nor simple.  There’re many people who aren’t even 20% perfect for you.

So, choose carefully.  But as John Legend sings someone’s imperfections are likely to be perfect just for you.

Be the love you seek.

Will

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Creating a buzz around careers in agriculture

Young people who work in the agriculture sector love what they do, they are proud of what they do and they want to inspire other your people to join them.

Getting that message out there has been traditionally tricky and inspired many Nuffield Scholar research projects. I have had the pleasure of meeting a number of scholars from both UK and Canada touring the world looking for initiatives that are kicking goals in this area.

Canadian Scholar Beck Parker has just published her report Inspiring Gen Z to Pursue Careers in Agriculture and Food Its a great read –

Some important learnings from her executive summary include

 Few Gen Zers know about the diversity of careers in agri-food. Many associate agri-food careers ONLY with primary production. Therefore, we must use an edu-marketing approach that focuses on marketing agriculture careers to youth using educational settings and programs. The edu-marketing tactics will build awareness, engagement and commitment to ag careers.

The steps are:

Step 1: Increase exposure of the agri-food sector and the diversity of opportunities available to the general population of youth

Step 2: Provide opportunities for youth to engage with careers through experiential learning (e.g. job shadows, co-op, etc.)

Step 3: Introduce mentors and ambassadors who can offer further positive influence to students who show an interest in agri-food careers

To fully address the labour shortage in agriculture, we need coordinated collaboration between education (schools & education organizations), youth development organizations, and the agrifood sector. Each stakeholder needs to play an essential role and work with the other(s) to ensure that the best possible programming is offered to Gen Z to encourage and inspire them to pursue careers in agri-food.

Collaboration draws on the strengths and resources of each stakeholder, resulting in educational initiatives and programs that excite and engage future agri-food employees.

Again and again this word collaboration comes up. Something we are yet to embrace in Australian agriculture – the capacity to, and realising the power of working together.

The Young Farming Champions (YFC) feature in Becky’s report and we have just published our 2016 YFC Annual Report. This year we had a strong focus on creating a buzz around Careers in Agriculture as part of The Archibull Prize. Becky will be very excited that our research and findings strongly mirror hers

Snapshot

Students were surveyed prior to and at the completion of The Archibull Prize and the results are staggering with a significant shift (from 19% to 52%) in students believing they have a sound knowledge of farming and agriculture.

At the beginning of The Archibull Prize primary school students struggled to identify more than two jobs within agriculture and most suggestions were vague and related to labouring jobs on farm. None of the primary students mentioned science or technical related jobs.

On completion of their projects for The Archibull Prize 64% of the primary students were easily able to nominate up to three different agricultural careers and the jobs they now thought of were more specific (crop duster, farm manager, fashion designer, wool classer etc). The career list also included science based careers such as agronomist, food scientist and veterinarian, which were absent from the entry survey.

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AWI Young Farming Champion Dione Howard explores diversity of careers in the wool industry with Hurlstone Agricultural High School students

Similarly, in the survey prior to The Archibull Prize secondary school students also struggled to identify more than two farming or agricultural jobs, with less than 5% of jobs related to scientific roles. By the end however 30% of the jobs mentioned related to the sciences and other jobs were more specifically labelled. Examples of the range included animal nutritionist, rural real estate agent, crop consultant, geneticist, gin machine operator, horse trainer, banker, food engineer and dog trainer. “There are many other jobs apart from just farming in agriculture,” was one student comment. “You can do anything you want in agriculture,” was another.

Students reported that most of the information about careers in agriculture came from speaking to a Young Farming Champion. Also run by Art4Agriculture the Young Farming Champions Program takes young people working in, and passionate about, agriculture and gives them the skills to communicate and present their story to others. “We had a Young Farming Champion talk to us,” commented one secondary student. “She was an agronomist, which I didn’t know was a profession in agriculture.”

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At The Archibull Awards Ceremony held in Sydney on 22nd November Mr Scott Hansen, Director General of the NSW Department of Primary Industries, also spoke of the assorted careers available. 

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Samuel Carpenter from The Henry Lawson High School at Grenfell won the Professor Jim Pratley award for the case study that accurately portrayed a day in the life of an agronomist – a career he is actively planning for.

Are the Young Farming Champions inspiring young people to take up careers in agriculture. Yes they are and the success stories show the power of collaboration

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Sharna Holman our first YFC who was inspired to follow a career in cotton pathway by a collaboration between Art4Agriculture, RAS of NSW and Cotton Australia

and its creating a domino effect – Sharna has now inspired Emma Longworth

I went to school at Muirfield High School and participated in Art4Agriculture’s The Archibull Prize Program in 2012 as well as the Sydney Royal Easter Show school’s display from 2013-2015. From these opportunities I was given, my passion for science and agriculture definitely commenced.

I graduated from Muirfield in 2015 with an atar of 95.65, 3rd place in the state for Primary Industries and 8th for Agriculture. I’ve always had a love for animals and outdoor adventures and so I followed my next door neighbour, Sharna Holman’s, footsteps by participating in these events and then pursuing a career in agriculture. Unlike Sharna, I chose to move to Armidale and study a Bachelor of Rural Science at UNE and have definitely had the best year of my life.