Daily Prompt – Object Lesson

Sherlock Holmes had his pipe. Dorothy had her red shoes. Batman had his Batmobile. If we asked your friends what object they most immediately associate with you, what would they answer?

That’s easy – my phone! The very piece of technology I’m using to answer this question!

My phone is my lifeline to the outside world.

Farming and particularly dairy farming can be isolating. A friend of mine posted on Facebook the other day “Dairy farming – ruining social lives since forever!”

The long hours and the need to be there 24/7/365 puts a dampener on most outings. Just as you settle in you need to go home to milk. By the time you’re done you’re too tired to bother and you know you have to get up in the morning and do it all again.

So my social life is really social media!

I discovered Facebook a long time after my friends did. I’m still not convinced, but it has its place.

Twitter has been my true savior! I have found kindred spirits there I would never have known existed. There’s a different type of person on Twitter, but how and why I can’t tell you. It suits my because I think that’s how I talk. 140 characters, straight to the point.

Twitter is where I’ve learnt about dairy farms in different parts of Australia and the world, discovered activism and most importantly found out what a blog was!

Its where I found my ‘home’.

Its the place that I can go for a serious conversation about the goings on in the world or find some bubblegum for my mind.

I have met some of the people I ‘know’ on Twitter. The most extraordinary thing is its like we’ve known each other for years. Its something I’ve written about before.

I do talk to people I know! I text a lot. By a lot I mean A LOT! Its how I and my busy friends get our information out in a way that doesn’t impose. I can ask a question, make a statement, invite or just update in a way that doesn’t stop my friends from doing whatever it might be they’re doing. They can answer when they’re ready. Also gives people time to think before they answer. 

I do make or take the odd actual voice call too!

Without my phone I’d be lost!

Propraganda and How It (Doesn’t Always) Work

The news was broken by PETA yesterday of the abject cruelty endemic in the shearing sheds of Australia.

It came with a video complete with an official sounding voice and emotional music.

Why is a dairy farmer having a rant about this?

I am against the mistreatment of all animals.

And I worked in the industry for about 10 years. So I do have some experience. But that’s a blog for another day.

I have seen the behavior depicted in this video, but I didn’t stand back and watch. I had a shearer sacked for treating sheep like that. I made enough noise in two other situations for the overseer and the grower to see what was happening and moved those horrid excuses for human beings on. I walked away from what would have been a lucrative job as a contractor allowed this sort of abuse to occur because the shearer was a ‘gun’ (lots of sheep shorn in a day) and even moved 800km’s away just to find a new team after basically being blacklisted where I was for it. All in all, I probably saw seven shearers act with such contempt for another living creature. They don’t get a lot of work.

Here is the video. Watch with an open but curious mind…

So here are a few of the problems I have with this video.

Firstly, why (again!) was the footage held for 12 months without prosecution of the shearers involved? This is something we see regularly from so called animal welfare advocates.

Some of the filming was obviously done with the full knowledge of the person being filmed. This can mean a few things. It could be a set up. It could be a mate filming a mate and that video has been used inappropriately.

A question that has been bubbling in the back of my mind is who has a hammer on their stand and why? Its not a normal part of a shearers kit.

Not surprisingly, some of the images were taken out of context.

The sewing up of a sheep is something that needs to be done from time to time. It has little to do with the per sheep payment system as reported by PETA. The reason a sheep ends up with a cut like that are varied but rarely does it lead to the death of the sheep. And no, pain relief is not used. PETA again are using emotion without facts. They are comparing human skin to that of an animal that has evolved to have less nerve endings in areas prone to damage.

There is also footage of a shearer with his foot on the sheep’s neck. To me it doesn’t look like much downward pressure is being used. Experience tells me its being held still so the sheep doesn’t kick and then need to be sewn up.

And lastly, who installed the cameras and was it done with full knowledge of the owners of the sheds involved.

If these groups had there way, every livestock enterprise in Australia would be under constant video surveillance with open to the public feeds over the internet. Nothing should be hidden in their view.

Agroterrorism is being used in this country by these groups to obtain footage they can then cut and paste to suit their own agenda. This is what I believe has happened here. Imagine what they would do with live feeds.

This picture was on the Weekly Times report about the video. I feel I should comment on this picture. Its out there for all the world to see. I have no idea where this picture came from but it doesn’t help anyone but PETA.

Or does it?

It shows a sheep with some blood. I do feel bad for this sheep. But looking at the picture I notice the sheep isn’t very cleanly shorn. There’s wool left on the rump. This indicates the shearer was probably a learner.

But the more interesting thing I notice is, except a tiny patch on the bottom left, the lack of blood on the fleece.

Could be a lucky shot… make your own assumptions.

Source: PETA

I am also guessing you have more question. And you should! All of the material shown by ARA’s needs to be dissected and any cruelty that we can stop needs to be stopped!

But if you want information from people who know and understand, ask a farmer! They are the people with the hands on experience in animal welfare.

There are lots of farmers from all over the world to be found on Facebook and Twitter and most are more than willing to let you in on the workings of their enterprise.

Feel free to leave questions and comments. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll probably know someone who will.

Thanks for reading.

No Toilet Paper. Goodbye Socks!

Today, quite by accident, I performed a little social experiment.
In the last week or so, I have posted and shared a few what I consider interesting links on my Facebook page.
These are some of them;

Animal Welfare: A Wyndham Station Perspective

An Open Letter From Dylan Farrow

EXCLUSIVE: The Danger Of Outrageous Outrage

Live-Ex Comes Home To Roost

All very interesting and informative reads that, in my opinion, everyone should read.  I had three “likes” and two comments for all of those articles.

Today I was having a rare read of my Facebook feed when I came across this doozy from an old friend I shall call Spud – because that’s what we called him at Tocal.

No toilet paper. goodbye socks !!
  • You and 5 others like this.
  • Alison Germon
    Write a comment…
    Of course I “like”ed it! It sounded very Spud-like!
    It was a trick. Within seconds I received this via chat….
    You’re in trouble! Lol! A friend did this to me, its a game. You shouldnt have liked or commented on my status. Choose one of the following:
    1. Damn diarrohea!
    2. Just used my boobs to get out of a speeding ticket.
    3. Anyone got tampons? Im desperate.
    4. How do you get rid of foot fungus?
    5. Why is it no one is around5. Why is it no one is around when Im horny?
    6. No toilet paper. Goodbye socks!!
    7. Is it too early for a whiskey?
    8. What a day, can’t wait till my husband gets home!
    9. I just feel like running naked in the garden.
    10. Does liver and peanut butter make a good sandwich filling?
    Dont explain on the status, just send this message. Your turn!
    I looked at the list for a while and decided on 2.

    Just used my boobs to get out of a speeding ticket….
    Like · · Promote · Share
    It was the most plausible post there. 9 was tempting and had it been raining I would probably have put that one on.
    As I write this, 17 people have clicked “like” and nine have commented.
    I haven’t shared the fact I blog with my Facebook world – too many of them know hubby and I’m not ready for him to know.  But I am tempted!
    Maybe this is what we need to do to promote farming – make it low and degrading. I doubt it.
    We Australian farmers have a lot to be proud of. We are the cleanest food producers in the world.  We are at the forefront of animal welfare standards.  We feed and clothe everyone in Australia and millions of people world wide.
    Why is it then I am taken more seriously when I post something about my boobs and nobody listens when I  share the stories of our lives?
    This is another reason I haven’t bothered sharing my inner most secrets with Facebook.
    But it does beg the question – if my boobs and those of others are so damn interesting, why are more people not interested in what’s happening in the  dairy industry?

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!