I haven’t written a blog for a while. I made a promise to myself I would only write about things that are important to me and readable and interesting to you, the reader.
I thought about the why/why nots of writing this. But if I can help just one person….. so here I am putting it out there.
Nothing here has been “going to plan”.
We had the drought that was broken by some well timed rain. This meant our cows would have grass, the creek would have water and we could restock our fodder supply.
And we could breath again.
The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray…..
In a conversation with my local vet about the dry and the effect it will have on calving cows he mentioned that cows that have a tough mid trimester will often deliver badly. That is to say, the cow will have problems at birth and/or the calf will be born in a poor condition. The cow and possibly the calf will have health issues and down cows would be an issue.
And that’s exactly what is happening now.
The majority of births are fine. We have a few purchased heifers that may just have been put in calf too early an are having some issues and we have had a couple of older cows get calving paralysis, one of which didn’t get up on their own again and eventually threw the towel in.
The foxes too are back at it. They take advantage of the cows while they’re calving and will chew on the soft areas – the calf’s naval, nose and dew claws and the cows teats and vulva. This I have written about before and can be read here.
But that’s not why I am writing this today.
This is for the other farmers out there doing what we do – just put one foot in front of the other, clean up the mess left by all this, and get up the next day and do it all over again. With dairy farming there isn’t even a day off. No matter what happens, we have to be back here for milking every afternoon and be able to get up and milk in the morning.
This is about the mental health perspective.
I have written before about BDP an the effect it has on me.
I am currently struggling to keep it all together.
We have had to put a few cows down and couple of calves have also had to be destroyed due to never recovering from the traumatic birth or because of the foxes.
Its getting to me. Its getting to both of us.
I am starting not to enjoy anything. Everything I need to do is a mammoth task. Music can’t cheer me up. I’m overeating and with all the wrong foods. Or I’m not eating at all. I find myself sitting in the car in town for 20+ minutes before I get out in case someone wants to ask how the farm is going. How we’re going. Or just interact with me. I get home an do the same except I don’t want to find out what has gone wrong this time.
The only thing I do like is reading, because I can escape into someone else’s world for a while.
I am fully aware these are signs of depression and anxiety taking hold and believe me I am fighting hard so they don’t. The demons that have pursued me my whole life are not going to win. I have skills now to keep this at bay.
And if worst comes to worst, there is always medication. I will resist for as long as I can though because waking with a hangover every day is not fun at all!
I also don’t want this to become a pity party all about me and my issues.
I want the other farmers doing it very tough financially, with the weather, with sick stock, sadness all around them, and a feeling there is no end in sight to know they are not alone! We are all doing it very tough. And that’s not to say what they are feeling isn’t important – it is. We are all going through it but its an individual fight.
The farmers need to recognize that nasty blackness going on underneath all the business in their heads is completely normal and nothing to feel ashamed of.
Seeking help is not failing.
If someone genuinely asks ‘are you ok’, answer honestly. Just sharing can lighten the load.
Visit your GP and let them know. There are services available through them to help.
There are also people you can contact over the phone or internet if going to the Dr is too much.
NSW has Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP) aimed at rural and remote people. They can connect you with services in your local area.
What ever happens, farmers should not ignore what’s going on and just suck it up.
And if you know someone who has changed, become withdrawn, drinking more, angrier than usual, really not coping, ask them are they ok. There isn’t a lot you can do if they lie to you. But you are able to call someone like RAMHP, Lifeline or the metal health professionals in your area and ask what your options are.
Don’t feel like its interfering – you could just save a life and a family from years of torment.
This is a poem by Murray Hartin that has been doing the rounds lately. Everytime I hear it or read it I cry. I’m not sure of its the words or the crying, but I always feel a little better after.
Just know you are doing the best you can with what you have, and don’t be too hard on yourself.