Saturday, January 31, 2015

A lesson in leadership

I was recently asked to write a blog post for the Loddon Murray Community Leadership program - here it is below :)

A lesson in leadership ….

Dianne and Gary Bowles from Cohuna are strong advocates for the dairy industry.
Dianne and Gary Bowles from Cohuna are strong advocates for the dairy industry.
Dianne Bowles of Cohuna describes herself as a professional dairy farmer, a Board Member at the North Central Catchment Management Authority, and a Director of Murray Dairy. She is also a graduate of the Loddon Murray Community Leadership Program (2012).
Over and beyond her many public roles she recently discovered that her leadership skills were required closer to home.   Di is our first guest blogger for 2015 and we thank her for sharing her story.

Sometimes just one little thing can cause you to lose focus on what you are trying to achieve.
My husband Gary and I own and run a dairy farm in Northern Victoria. Gary has lived here all his life, me for only the last 9 years when I married him. Consequently even though I have learnt an awful lot about dairy farming, there are still things I can’t (or choose NOT) to do.
Recently, Gary became ill with chest pains while we were doing a routine vaccination program with our calves. He kept placing his hand on his chest and looked quite pale.
Naturally as a caring wife I kept nagging him to stop and that I would take him to the hospital. Of course as a stoic farmer – he wanted to keep going and get the job done!
Thankfully caring wife won and we headed into our local hospital.
Cohuna District Hospital is a great facility with caring staff and we also have a fabulous GP in Dr Peter Barker. He met us at the hospital as I had rung through, and after several tests diagnosed pleurisy and not a heart attack – which I was MOST relieved about. However he recommended that Gary stay in hospital until late evening when further test results would be back. This meant that he wouldn’t be home to milk and to do various other jobs that were required. Also his blood tests had to be driven to Kerang (20 minutes drive away) for urgent testing.
For those who also know me – I’m an organiser. I was delegated the job of driving the blood to Kerang which was fine – in the time it took me to drive there and then back home, I had organised all I needed to – both in my head and by a couple of phone calls (yes I used hands free). Arrived back home feeling confident and organised – I can do this I thought to myself.
Thankfully a friend had fed out hay for me and fetched cows from the paddock ready for milking. Our Saturday night milker arrived to help with the milking and I set the shed up once as the cows arrived. I don’t think I mentioned that it was 43 degrees on the day so needless to say I arrived with the cows hot and sweaty. I had also fed calves and set up electric fence in the paddock for that nights feed for the milkers.
So as you can see although busy I was ticking off my list nicely and I was feeling quite proud of myself. The herd arrived at the dairy and I went to turn on the sprinklers to cool the cows down and couldn’t work out how to do it- Gary had recently changed the set up for this and I didn’t know how to do it.
For some reason this was the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back”. I had got this far quite confidently but now it seemed to me all was lost. Now I’ve completed the leadership program, led groups, chaired some pretty volatile meetings and couldn’t managed to wet my cows back on a hot day – FAIL!
So what did I do? Sat down on the step and cried. Worker came to ask if I was ok – said I couldn’t work out sprinklers – he had a look and couldn’t work it out either. He then asked me what to do?
There must have still been a small spark of leadership somewhere left in my brain – as I racked it for what to do. Finally came up with what we had done in the past before sprinkler system was installed – I turned on the hose and manually hosed down the cows (whilst crying and receiving sympathy from the cows)
For me this was a real lesson in our leadership journeys – we think we are travelling along well – we are ticking off our lists and boxes and achieving what we want to when quite often all of a sudden one little thing shakes our resolve and we feel like throwing in the towel.
My message to you is – don’t let it! Think of a plan B, C or even D and carry on! You never know what can be achieved unless you try.
And yes Gary is ok – tired but ok, and I now know how to use the sprinklers (it was just a lever).Di Bowles cows portraitNB:  And for any other aspiring dairy farmers in the North-Central region of Victoria, please note that dairy scholarships are generously offered by the Gardiner Foundation each year to the Loddon Murray Community Leadership Program. http://www.cllm.org.au/apply.htm

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas 2014

Well here it is two days before Christmas and its 4 am in the morning – and I am finally getting around to writing my Christmas letter.  This is typical of the year that we have had this year – lots done. but where has the time gone and constantly chasing our tails!
Farmwise things are now going well – we had a huge setback earlier in the year when our autumn calving cows and heifers were on agistment and were not being looked after properly and ended up with salmonella – this meant bring them back here to the farm early and spending a lot of $ to get them back in good condition – however Praise God they are now healthy and well.  We have employed a worker 3 days a week to help out and this has eased the burden a bit.
Gary continues to enjoy being a dairy farmer with all the joys and challenges it brings and has recently been helping our builder reroof our home – it looks great!  He promises to take me fishing in our “spare time” which hasn’t quite happened yet!
I (Dianne) seem to never be home that much unfortunately but love it when I am here- who would want to be anywhere else?  I am now a board member of two boards – North Central Catchment Management Authority and Murray Dairy which involves lots of meetings and travel but is very fulfilling.  I graduated from the Company Directors Course this year as well.
Family wise- Adam continues to live and work in Mildura and has bought his own fishing boat and a new ute to tow it – although he is yet to catch a really big fish.
Holly and Daryl, together with Addison and Imogene are enjoying their new to them home in Cardross, near Mildura.  They had a set back earlier in the year with the house flooding, but due to that have a virtually completely renovated home to live in and enjoy.
Aimee and Jason, together with Mia and Maddison have just moved to a new home in Bendigo and are enjoying finally having a backyard.  Aimee is back at work and Jason is almost completed his bakery apprenticeship.  Mia has just finished grade 1 and Maddison enjoys going to day care twice a week.
Sarah is presently in England for a month, so won’t be home for Christmas.  She has had a promotion at her work, the Wine Bank in Bendigo and is the day manager.  She has also been increasing the amount of photography work she has been getting.
Megan has moved to a new unit in Bendigo and is now sharing with 2 other girls.  She has a job working at a pizza restaurant several days a week and is now an expert pizza maker and cutter!
She is hoping to get work as a motor mechanic and continues to apply for jobs for this.

Yes life is busy – but we are blessed

God continues to lead and guide our steps and we look forward to what is in store for us in 2015

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter 2014


Things have been moving along here on the farm - we now dont have sick cows -we have sick calves :(
So... lots of long long days feeding each calf very carefully with the best colustrum milk we have (freshly calved cows milk) and also giving them antibiotics etc and lots of love etc - sadly we have lost 6 heifer calves and 3 bull calves - hopefully no more though!
BUT on a positive note - we had lovely visitors at easter time (see below!) Mia and Maddison and their parents Aimee and Jason came - its lovely to have kids around and to watch their joy at just being on the farm - things that were sad to us, seen in different eyes have given us a new perspective - and they give pretty good hugs too!
I also managed to get a little quilting done - this cute little wallhanging was a kit I was given from my secret pal who lives somewhere overseas (I think America) and she send me a giftie each month - its a part of the Dear Jane group of which Im part of - I send gifts to someone else overseas as well. Its so much fun receiving something each month in the mail!


Monday, March 31, 2014

this is NOT a box of chocolates at the moment

I've been hesitant to post this but feel that others might gain from it - so here I go!
At the moment life here on the farm is in short terrible. We have had a real  set back and its hard to see an easy or a quick solution.
We had agisted our cows that are due to calve in autumn (in the next few weeks) with someone who had done it for us the past several years.  We had been very happy in the past with how our cattle were fed and looked after and we probably became complacent. Anyway the downside is that when Gary went to collect the cows due to calve soonish he was confronted with a disaster - our cattle were in terrible condition and didnt appear to have been fed much at all.  This photo is one of the worst cows - and when I saw her I just cried. We love and care about our cattle and for this to happen is just heart breaking.
We face many challenges now - these cattle will be hard to get back to being well and looking good and its certainly not going to happen before they calve - therefore extra stress on them and their calves.  They will not milk well due lack of feed etc and will be hard to get into calf again at joining time.  One cow has already died - two more are close to it.All we have to keep us going are some great understanding friends and our faith and trust in God - only a miracle can fix this


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Happy 2nd birthday Maddison


Its hard to believe that two years have passed since Maddison Dorothy Rivett joined our family.
She is growing into a gorgeous girl - has her own mind and is definately going to go places!
A very happy birthday to you Maddison and we look forward to celebrating many more to come with you!

Monday, February 24, 2014

another finish and one that Im pretty happy with

Ive just finally finished this quilt - and I must say Im really pleased with how it has turned out.  It was a lot of cutting (and HUGE amount of cutting - although I did cut too much fabric and have heaps left over), lots of sewing and then I stippled it myself on my domestic sewing machine.  I had to piece the back so thought I would use up more of the left over strips to join them together - I think it makes it look like it was meant to be.
And the black and white fabric used in the binding was an afterthought and it think it fits in really well with the brightness and freshness of the quilt.