This has been one of the biggest years of our dairy life – not that I have been in the industry for long!
First, a quick background…Two years ago in August, we moved from a farm on a floodplain where nine floods in three years had nearly sent us broke. We lost a lot of cattle and a lot of pasture but we learned a lot!
Farm in a good time
Just after we moved we got the biggest flood the valley had seen in a very long time! We were cut off from town, which is a rarity, and a lot of water inundated the farm. Thankfully we hadn’t really started many improvements along the creek and we had plenty of high ground for our cows. The other saving grace was the water got away pretty quickly without ruining feed or bogging up paddocks.If we had still been on the other farm, we wouldn’t be talking about dairy farming now!
January this year started a bit dry, but by the end of February we’d had a massive flood, again being cut off from town but not completely – we could take the scenic route into big town.Two weeks later though, we had another huge downpour. This time we were really cut off from town!! We could get out and look around but all the bridges were closed and many roads were flooded.
Same paddocks in flood
The problem was, that was the last of the rain….
February 2013 Flood
We hadn’t seen a dry month since we started up. In fact, when we were share farming a little further north (not for long) we experienced a massive flood that saw the all the towns in the area on flood alert. The emergency warning signal on the ABC radio was first launched about then and has become way to familiar to us since!
And it just didn’t stop for nearly 5 years!
Until this year. It just got dryer and dryer. We kept expecting it to rain because it always had. We used all our fodder. We were lucky not to loose cows. It was very lucky we were offered a good paddock of Lucerne next door to rent or we would have been in truly dire straights!
All of our water for the troughs – what troughs there are – the dairy and the house come out of the creek. The creek has never stopped flowing in the memory of the owner. This year it came very close.Hubby had dug deeper holes where the foot valve is. Two days before it rained the pump stopped running, the foot valve was out again. This time we’d need to call the excavator in.
It finally rained in October! The feed came back in abundance. We had thought we’d be struggling with the vital dry fodder – silage an hay – that is essential for our enterprise. But we have a start!! We still need at least 450 more bales of silage or hay. And if we get the opportunity we will add more small bales to the 220 cut during this week.
Rain! This picture was uploaded by NSW Country Hour to their Facebook page.
As far as family goes, its been a year of milestones.Our eldest turned 18. He also got his license and a Hilux ute. He stayed for a while, but was offered a job on a feedlot out west that paid actual money. We were glad to see him go but hated seeing him leave. He needs to fend for himself to figure out who he is and what he’s about.
Miss 12 on her year 6 formal night.
Miss 12 started her final year of primary school. She is a very bright child with a love of learning so the teachers all love her!! She has played soccer for a while and was spotted by the local Development Squad coach. She trialed and made it to the under 11’s and then the under 12’s girls Development Squad which saw us travelling often! It was made harder because the games were mostly far away up north, and we had club games on Saturday. There were three girls from the DS on her club team, and a DS boy as well. They played hard all year and won the prize for the least amount of points conceded for the year. We didn’t make the grand final, but not for lack of trying!Her crowning glory for the year has to be winning the Principals Medal at school. Of this I am very proud!
Miss 5-nearly-6 started kindergarten. She loves learning too, but has a different way of showing it!! As a TAFE teacher told me two years ago, world domination isn’t going to be enough for her!She has so much energy and confidence that it becomes an issue! Luckily she has had the best kindi teacher a child like her could ask for! She has a love for the animals though and is always pestering one or more of them!
I was glad they got a year together. It will be interesting to see the change in dynamics next year though.
Miss 5 and her cat Blacky.
Our business has struggled this year big time, but I’m pretty sure we weren’t alone! Our milk price has dropped further and further this year. We (and most the district) came up for contract renewal this year. And a very large Co-op from Victoria came a knocking. It has been a tense six months of meetings, negotiations, more meetings, pleading with our current company to give us a sustainable price to no avail. We have decided to change supplier – again. More about that in the new year after our first milk cheque comes in!
Our plan for a while was to rear Wagyu calves for the Japanese market, but the people we were dealing with treated us like idiots, so that didn’t happen.
The best thing to happen all year to our business was the locals accepted us and realized we were here for the long haul, not the fly-by-nighters they assumed we were. We have made some truly useful connections and even better, friends! The support given to (and I hope by) us in these last eight months of hardship has been invaluable
The worst was having to make the decision to put one of my babies down.
For me personally, its been a strange year!
This time last year I was a rising star in my Nutrimetics team. I had done enough sales to earn me a trip to our big January do. By march I had a tidy little team working under me and was headed for Management! Cars, holidays, the lot!
I had also decided to add running 10k to my list of things to achieve. I’d lost a lot of weight and increased my fitness and was looking for a new challenge. So running was it! And I loved it! I started off with an Ipod on the dirt road here. I figured out pretty quickly the dirt hills were hard!! So I was getting up at 3.30 and going to town to run on the tar, under street lights. I was afraid of being hit by a car so stopped taking my headphones. It was the best move ever! Not only was I preparing my body for the day, my mind had time to sort itself out too!! I highly recommend it. Even once or twice a week.
July, that all changed.
As I mentioned before, our eldest decided to go west. That meant I had to fill the void, leaving no time for my burgeoning business or my running. I got to 8k by the way – not far off it! Now its just too hot!
I have rediscovered my passion for dairy, especially the calves.
Another thing I discovered this year was Twitter. It has saved me from going insane!! I went from contact with other humans that didn’t include talk of cows, to no adult conversation at all in a blink of an eye!! I have made some great twiends that hopefully I get to meet some of in the new year… you know who you are!
I also discovered agripolitics…. this is a subject I am very green on! But I am loving learning all about the way things work, different views and how it all effects me. Thankfully there are some very patient people who really know their stuff who I can’t see roll their eyes at my naivety! This is an area I am hoping to make a difference in some day.
I have also discovered there are actually groups of people who believe the life of a human is less sacred than the life of an animal.
And finally, blogging! This is very recent, but as one twiend said, its good to get it out of your head! I am especially proud of my Mental Health Awareness Month blog – I think its made a difference.
So! What’s on the agenda for the next 12 months?
Hopefully a better milk price and a better season!
I will be attending my first Dairy Australia Conference in February and cannot wait!
Miss 12 will be starting high school – that I can wait for! The attitude is doing my head in already!
What I really want is peace – for those in war torn countries, for women, for the innocent children.
I want peace of mind for my family, knowing the bills will be paid, food on the table and clothes on our backs.
I want to know agriculture is safe from foreign ownership and threat of closure, and disease.
I want to know that if they choose, all of our children will have a chance to follow their hearts into agriculture.
Merry Christmas to you and your families. I hope its a safe one for all.
See you in the new year!!!