Tuesday, September 20, 2016

You are not alone

Times are tough as a dairy farmer at the moment.  Its wet.  Its muddy.  Milk price is low and confidence is understandably low as well.
Its hard going getting out of bed each morning wondering what the day will bring - what disaster will come upon us to challenge us even more and do we really want to keep going.
I am usually a positive person, but of late Ive been really challenged.  Thankfully Gary is positive and believes there is a future - it would be horrible if both of us were struggling at the same time. This morning I went to check the calving cows and even struggled to walk into the paddock - but I found new life and it was cute!
This brought me to thinking , we recently attended a dairy meeting and met other farmers there.  We got talking (as you do) and were asked - is it hard for you?  How are you dealing with the mud? And the rain? How are your cows producing? How are you keeping going?
And our answers - we are not!  Well we are, but its hard.
And that brings me to the reason for this post - yes its hard, yes its tough but you are not alone.
Most are in the same boat - and at the moment its very hard rowing that boat. This is what our laneways and dairy yard looks like at the moment - and its challenging.  We dont want to walk through it and neither do our cows.  Its hard.

What can be done about this?
If you are a dairy farmer - dont isolate yourself.  Make time to talk to others - your spouse, your family, your neighbour, other dairy farmers.  Give yourself permission to say its tough but also give yourself permission to say "this too will pass".
Seek advice and help - its out there.  Im happy to pass on info for those who need it as are many others.  There is financial help available (and yes its convoluted and time consuming to apply - but do apply).  Go on a farm visit or just go into town for a coffee - even a break of an hour can lift the spirit.
For those of you who are reading this and are not dairy farmers - can I encourage you to make contact with one or two?  Let them know you appreciate what they do to produce the world quality standard milk that you use on your breakfast cereal and in your cuppa.
And buy dairy - any dairy - but in particular branded milk if you can afford it and value added products such as cheese, yoghurt, cream, infant formula.  It does make a difference.
I hope by writing this blog post that I might just be able to make a difference for someone - and if its only just one person then its been worth it.
I might just have to create a new hashtag - I already have #dairylove and #lovewhereIlive and might just have to add #youarenotalone

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Dont find a fault find a remedy

I have recently come across this quote from Henry Ford - and I think it is extremely appropriate at the present time in the Australian Dairy industry.

I believe we are at the cross roads as dairy producers and how we interact with and perceive the processors that we supply milk to.

Many many dairy farmers are angry (and rightly so) at the drop in milk prices which has recently affected us, as well as the claw back conditions attached to this.  We supply Murray Goulburn so our pay back is called Milk Supplier Support Package and results in us having a reduced milk price for the next 3 years until our overpayment has been recovered.  No this is not good, but it is a lot better than some dairy farmers who supply other milk companies - our debt is not a personal debt but a co-operative one and is not applied to individual balance sheets as is happening to many.

However back to the above quote - its all very well and good to be angry and cheesed off and feel like you need to put someones head on a pole - however at the end of the day what will that achieve? Personal satisfaction for the short term, however as dairy farmers we are in it for the long haul. There are cries of Extraordinary General Meetings  which are to involve lawyers who (in my opinion) have the agenda of removing board members and senior management and trying to retrospectively change things back to how they were and although there are also quotes of no cost to sign up - at the end of the day there has to be a cost. Is this achievable or desirable? I dont think so

Why not take the better (and more cohesive) option?  Try and work together with processors and boards and staff and have a working together attitude.

Much more is achieved by working together, warts and all, than fighting against one another.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Australian dairy farmers its time to unite

Since I married my husband 10 years ago, I’ve been a dairy farmer and so a part of the Australian Dairy Industry.  During that time I have seen and experienced many things - drought, flood, plagues of locusts, high and low water, fodder and milk prices and many other things.
I’ve learnt a lot and seen a lot and know I’m proud to be a dairy farmer - that owning and running a dairy business is not an easy thing to do - that there are many challenges thrown our way but somehow we somehow keep going and adapting to continue to farm.
However events in the last few days have seen many of us almost at the end of our tether.  As a dairy farmer in Northern Victoria we are already struggling with high temporary water prices (and water is the life blood of dairying in my region), high fodder prices, little or no rainfall and a general despondency starting to happen.  
Then to cap all of that off, last Wednesday the company that we supply our milk to and are also shareholders of, Murray Goulburn, announced a step down in our milk price and that the affects of this decrease in milk payments would have implications to our business for the next 3 years.  A way forward had been worked out that would see us still continue to receive ok payment for the rest of this financial year - however the cost of the increased payments received by suppliers for the whole of FYI 16 would have to be borne/paid back by continuing suppliers for the next 3 years.
This revelation has hurt and upset many and has led to many farmers saying they are going to leave the industry and/or possibly change milk supply companies.
Yes our operation is hurting from this news - we have just had to let go of one of our staff and are looking at reducing the size of our herd and the amount of litres we will be sending to the factory 
I think now is the time for clear and wise thinking.  Don’t just leap in and say thats it, Im quitting, Im selling my herd, Im leaving Murray Goulburn etc etc.  Take time to make clear and informed decisions.  Seek advice from trusted advisors or if you don’t have one - seek out one.
Do you figures and do them several times using different scenarios.  Look at everything up down and inside out.  Know you business and where it is heading.Then and only then can you make decisions. Once you know the options, then you can choose one. You may decide to stay the same, you may decide to peg back the business and you may even decide it is time sell up. But what ever decision you make, it will be a measured calculated one. You can then move forward with more confidence than before and your head held high.  And it will be your decision.
Stop grumbling and complaining and pointing fingers.  Yes things are going to be tight and tough and yes there are things we cant control.  But there are things we can control and take control of them - cow numbers, feed budgets, feed for your cattle, which milk company to supply and again make wise decisions around those things. 
Don’t bag those in the industry who are prepared to stand up for ALL dairy farmers - e.g. the UDV (United Dairy Farmers of Victoria ) who as soon as the news hit the airwaves made a beeline for every milk company, bank and even the government looking to bring our case to their notice and acting for ALL dairy farmers and not just their members. Same deal with ADF (Australian Dairy Farmers) and DA (Dairy Australia) and their regional development programs - Murray Dairy, WestVic Dairy and GippsDairy. Its easy to say what they aren't doing but have a good hard look at what they ARE doing and support their work.
Don’t like it? Then stand up and be counted like they are prepared to.  Don't grumble and complain - unite and support each other - there is great power in numbers.
Also its easy to blame the MG board and chair and say they haven't done everything properly - perhaps they have and perhaps they haven’t, but all will be revealed in due time.  Many are dairy farmers too and this decision is also hurting their businesses.  
We are the Australian Dairy Industry - dairy farmers doing what we love to supply milk and dairy products to both Australians and overseas.  We will not fail because of this - we will have a good hard united crack at it.  

We need to show others that we are brave strong and resilient.  And if someone offers to help - take it!  Ask others to buy Australian dairy products.  If every Australian added an extra dairy item to their supermarket trolley it would make a huge difference.
Its time for Australian dairy farmers to stand up in a united way and move forward.
Di Bowles, fulltime professional dairy farmer

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Fourth generation quilter?

What a pleasure it is to be a nanna!
My daughter Aimee came with her two girls for two nights but left the older one Mia here for an extra day.  When Mia is here she likes to have nanna time and Gary time.
Of course Gary time is usually spent in the tractor, doing farm work etc and her favourite being a fence (which involves standing with arms wide stopping cattle going somewhere and she is really good at it)
Well this time in nanna time is asked her if she would like to learn to make a little quilt and she was very keen.  Fabrics were chosen by her.  I cut them - she had to iron them and then I sewed a few together and so did she.
By this time her concentration was beginning to wane so I didn't want to push the issue so offered to finish it off for her which I did after she left.  She will be getting it before she heads back to Bendigo as she is currently at her dads in Cohuna.  Looks pretty good for our first effort.
When I told my mum about our effort she was very proud and said that is the fourth generation as her mum (my nan) was a dressmaker and quilter, my mum was too and then me and now Mia.  Who knows one of my girls might take it up and then Mia would be a fifth generation quilter - how cool is that?

Monday, January 11, 2016

A nice cup of tea

Isn't this the most gorgeous tea cup?
As part of eating and drinking much more healthy stuff I've cut right back to only having one cup of coffee a day - at around 4pm and so far so good.  Did have a few withdrawals at the start but now I'm getting in the swing of it.
As I'm not drinking as much coffee I'm very slowly working my way through my very huge supply of herbal teas.  And I've taken a real liking to drinking it from this very gorgeous cup.  No I don't use a saucer.  It's from t2 and I'm pretty sure Sarah gave it to me.  It's a lovely size and lovely to drink from and is a nice distraction from the missing coffee.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Preciousness kal

Over on Ravelry one of the forums I participate in is Aussie karma swaps.
One of the ladies put up a challenge that we were to knit/crochet up one of our precious yarns - hence the title preciousness knit along.
I chose to use up two skeins of art yarns beaded pearl and sequins yarn that I bought in a destash from another raveler.   Yarn is gorgeous - but naughty.  Doesn't like to be wound into a ball and is a pain to knit with and sewing in the ends was extremely challenging.
I'm glad I didn't have a long and complicated pattern to knit with, just a simple drop stitch cowl pattern.  But it did turn out beautifully and drapes in a very lovely way.
So I guess this is now TWO things finished in 2016 - I'm on a roll!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

First finish for the year

Well the stitchery that is picked back up again a few days ago is done and looks lovely imho.  Found that I had the perfect fabric to match for the borders and binding and amazing even a piece of wadding almost exactly the size I needed for it.  How wise I must be to have prepared that earlier.!
So one ufo finished - several more to go!