What I have Learned From twEATup

If you have no idea about Borderline Personality Disorder, go here first….

Last Wednesday evening an event occurred that two years ago I would never have attended.

I have been on Twitter now for some time and have ‘met’ some extraordinary people.

I am now ‘friends’ with other dairy farmers in Canada, the US, Ireland, as of this morning Wales, New Zealand and all over Australia!

There are beef and sheep producers all over Australia that have opened my eyes to the Live Export debate and the lengths the ARA’s will go to get their point across.

There are croppers of all things that have shown me what Canola looks like and how its harvested. And who knew there were chickpeas grown right here!

Horticulturist are few and far between in my list so far but I have a couple of them to teach me the ways of growing fruit and vegies and compare the market vagaries with.

There are Agribusiness and Agripolitical  types from whom I have learned a great deal.

But until last Wednesday I had met only one – Kim, a journalist. Though without her I probably wouldn’t have gotten into Twitter like I have.

So… what happened last week that changed everything?

A twEATup, that’s what!

Before I get into that I’d like to tell you what was happening in my brain for about a week beforehand…..

I have a constant internal monologue – it literally never stops! Its always there and occasionally becomes external and at that point I know I’m in strife!

AAAAHHHHHHH WHAT HAVE I DONE I CAN’T DO THIS TWELVE STRANGERS AAAAHHHH OMG HOW WILL I COPE!!!

That was on a loop. Some of it “escaped”. Interspersed with

AAAAHHHHH HOW CAN I GET OUT OF THIS YOU’VE DONE WHAT! BOOKED ACCOMODATION! OH NO NOW YOU HAVE TO GO AAAAHHHHH!!!!

It just goes on and on… you can practice mindfulness exercises to calm yourself down and they do work but its hard! It also means the anxiety attacks that simmer away can explode at any moment.  But knowing makes you aware and self care is the answer.

I have always had issues with crowds. I have walked out of places because the venue or room was half full. Someone might invade my personal space. Someone might talk to me and I will just loose my shit and freak out and embarrass whoever dragged me along – I would never go into a crowded place on my own. I loved going out with myself, but always somewhere safe!

But on Wednesday I put my  big girl panties on and found myself driving to Coffs Harbour to do just that. Be in a crowded room, in a restaurant I’d never seen, in a town I didn’t know to have dinner and possibly drinks with a lot of people whom I’d never met. And walking into said restaurant into said crowded room on my own!

I made a decision that morning that I wasn’t going to drink because I have no off switch. I’d drink till I ran out normally. It’s a coping mechanism I am not proud of. And even though I’m a happy drunk for the most I still know the hard work I’ve done installing a filter system between my brain and my mouth can be worthless.  I also knew the bulk of the people going leaned a different way politically than me and I wanted not to offend but put any point across in a sensible fashion. Moot point really – we had far more fascinating things to talk about than politics!

Wednesday night we all met in a lovely Italian restaurant in Coffs Harbour called Fiasco – well worth a visit if ever you venture that way. Turned out there were over 20 of us!! Some on Twitter together, others friends of other Tweeple.

All the stress and worry I’d had was a complete waste of time!

It was like we all knew each other. And in a way we do. Those you sort of get close to share your happiest times and can be the ones to pick you up and dust you off and can also knock you back to earth where you need to be – like a real friend, only you’ve never set eyes on them. So they know exactly what’s happening in your life. In my case there are people on Twitter that know more than my husband – this blog is a great example (my dirty little secret!). I’m pretty sure I’m not alone!

There’s a couple of people – Liz, a social worker and Paul, a banana farmer – who I chat to a lot.. by a lot I mean others notice how much time we spend chatting! They were the ones I was most eager to meet. And the most worried! (What if they don’t like me? What if I say something and make it awkward? What if I find them odd!) We sat together and got on so well it was insane! Never before had I felt connections click as quickly! Not just with those two – there is Leonie, ex Forester/National Parks person and Brian, a Landcare person that I also chat to about all sorts of amazing things that I was so glad to finally meet!

I also met people in the food writing trade I didn’t follow but now do which is fabulous!

I am looking forward to the time when we can meet again and continue the conversation started at Fiasco!

A huge thanks needs to go to Beth McMillan of Burrawong Gaian for organizing a great evening!! I am looking forward to the next twEATup!  Beth is worth a follow if you aren’t already @BurrawongGaian.

I got to talk to both Beth and Hayden that evening – their adventure into free range poultry is a brilliant story!

Why would I even attempt this now and not two years ago? I have more confidence now as I have put in the work to get my mind on track.  Its not an everyday thing – I ordered takeaway and nearly couldn’t pick it up as the restaurant was packed! it took me three attempts but Iwalked in there – to be told to wait in a crowded corner as it wasn’t ready!  But if I can prepare myself now I can do nearly everything.

So, what did I learn….

1. The days of saying people (loners) who spend too much time on Social Media are, at best, weird, at worst, creepy, are done!

Sure they might still exist but they were not there on Wednesday!

2. I need to stop listening to my brain and start going with the flow!

I can’t believe I nearly talked myself out of this!!

3. There is a whole world of experiences out there that I know very little about!

And most importantly

4. There are fantastic, interesting, vivacious, inspiring and interesting people out there and I am beginning to believe I may be one of them.

I have come back home with a new found sense of belonging. A warm glow that I will be calling on as times on the farm become increasingly difficult.

I am going to the Australian Dairy Conference at the end of February in Geelong on my own and have known about that for a while.

Yes, the same loop has been running about that!

Interestingly, the inner monologue has slowed down to ‘moments of’ instead of ‘continuous’…

Watch this space!

Hosing Musing

Hosing out is a very mundane chore that needs to be done after milking every milking every day! That and the washing out of buckets and calf feeders gives me time to think.

Today I was listening to the news on the local commercial radio station lamenting the fact their newsreaders leave a lot to be desired (I’ll leave that for another time!). One of the reports was about the amnesty on illegal fishing in NSW. The report featured an emotional attack by someone against the amnesty – wasn’t listening that well!

But it got me thinking.

Why is it the news reports about agriculture – good and bad – rarely feature someone actually involved in the industry in question from the start? Most of the reports we hear and see are anti whatevers protesting against whatever it is. Then later rather than sooner an industry rep attempts to tell people that all the lies and innuendo that have been portrayed as truth by a headline hungry media are lies and innuendo.

This is where we are getting it all wrong.

We need to show a united front. We need someone in our corner to stand up from the get-go so we can be on the front foot from the start.

There has been a lot of talk recently on the role of farmer lobby groups. What is there role if its not to jump on these stories as they happen? Why can’t there be a dedicated media department, as there are for other groups, that listen for reports and respond to them straight away?

I also believe commercial mainstream media should have more good news rural stories. They are happy to show the atrocities associated with Live Export, but are they as willing to show how it helps?

And I have said it before and I shall say it again – The ABC Country Hour for each state shouldn’t be restricted to just rural people. It should be on at midday for everyone. Its just one hour five days a week. It might help that city/country divide.

What Does The Fox Say..

My new calf pen has a magnificent view. I can see most of the farm this side of the creek. I have a really good view of the springer paddock too which is handy.

It just so happened a little Jersey cow was calving as I fed the calves on Sunday. She fussed around for a bit, laying down and standing up a few times, making me think I should go check when I finished feeding the babies.

There was no need. She stood up and voila! A little black and white blob was left behind.

We had farming friends from away camping on our creek, and he arrived as I finished up. I pointed the calf out to him and he said he’d go have a look for me when he sorted the kids out.

I was walking back to the dairy and just happened to have one final glance toward the cow.

It was then I saw it – the bain of my existence – a red fox skulking across the paddock toward the fresh cow and calf.

We have lost more than one calf to foxes, and a cow or two.

They seem to smell the birth taking place and wait for their opportunity.

They prefer the cow to be having trouble and will swoop in of she is a little weak or has calving paralysis.

They come in and chew the navel off the calf, and the calf bleeds out.

We found a cow last year having trouble calving in the night (we were watching her at hourly intervals) that had horrific injuries. The calf was big and she did end up with some paralysis. The fox or foxes had eaten the teats off her and started on her vulva. The calf’s navel was gone and she was dead. They had started on the calf’s nose as well. The calf was only half way out when we found it.

The cow had to be put down.

Even with us coming and going the foxes were not deterred.

I called back to my friend and pointed the fox out. He jumped on the bike and went to investigate. The fox just trotted off a little, then sat and watched.

I followed down on foot and between us we bought the cow and calf home.

As it turned out the cow was ill and probably would not have chased the fox away, leaving the calf to be eaten alive.

So that’s what the fox says…. yum yum yum yum fresh calf!

Sydney Fox Rescue

Sydney Fox Rescue is another registered charity that shouldn’t be.

This is from their ‘Facts’ page.

Current fox management strategies and techniques are governed or affected by various Commonwealth, state and territory laws. The first of the listed PDF files describes legislation relating to fox care, management and removal by state. Please note Sydney Fox Rescue does not endorse the shooting or baiting of foxes or the use of snare traps but these methods are legal in some states. This pdf has been listed only to convey the legality of keeping foxes in captivity in New South Wales and the illegal nature of fox release.

“As foxes are not a declared pest under the Rural Lands Protection Act 1998, there is no legal obligation for land managers to control them. Foxes may be kept in captivity, but it is an offence under the  National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974  to release them.”

Further more in New South Wales you do not need a license or permit to own a fox (as a category 5 animal) under the the Non-Indigenous Animals Regulation Act 2012.

This raises another question – why are foxes not considered vermin?

Is it because the are cute? I don’t know.

Ask a sheep farmer what they think of foxes.

Ask a dairy farmer on the North Coast of NSW, where foxes are a contributing factor to abortions in their herd – on top of what I just mentioned.

Ask a free range pig producer about foxes carrying away the little piglets.

Ask the free range chook producer.

Ask people who live in the towns that have plagues of them.

Please share this with those who think we farmers are hard on the foxes. They are more than welcome to come rescue all the foxes from here before they meet their end.