#Strongwomen. "I write about the power of trying, because I want to be okay with failing. I write about generosity because I battle selfishness. I write about joy because I know sorrow. I write about faith because I almost lost mine, and I know what it is to be broken and in need of redemption. I write about gratitude because I am thankful – for all of it." Kristin Armstrong
Author: Lynne Strong
I am a 6th generation farmer who loves surrounding myself with optimistic, courageous people who believe in inclusion, diversity and equality and embrace the power of collaboration. I am the founder of Picture You in Agriculture. Our team design and deliver programs that inspire pride in Australian agriculture and support young people to thrive in business and life
This week the milking cows are taking their morning feed (4am to 12 noon) in the paddocks in front of my house. I so look forward to this part of the grazing rotation which at this time of the year comes around every 14 to 18 days.
Now the cows seem to know I have a new camera and are doing their best to provide the rural idyll but this morning things were a little too perfect.
Firstly there was this
that was fine. Then there was long lingering looks like this
Then there was thousands (never let the facts get in the way of a good story) of looks like this
Quick turn on of the tap at the kitchen sink confirms my suspicions lots of thirsty looking cows means broken water trough. Michael to the rescue once again
I am a sixth generation farmer but I don’t like snakes, rats and spiders any more than your average city person
I grew up in NSW heartland and saw plenty of brown snakes that knew to keep well away from my father and his shotgun.
At Clover Hill there are no shotguns but plenty of red belly black snakes and no shortage of pythons including the one that has been living in the Illawarra Flame tree just outside my kitchen window scaring the bejesus out of my visitors when he/she suns him/herself on my front steps and my chooks 24/7
Yesterday I was enjoying a freshly made latte with milk straight from the udder so to speak before joining my sister for a Foodscape Tour and looking out the kitchen window I spotted what was causing all the commotion in the chook pen
Now I didn’t have time to take pictures of this snake let alone video footage ( yes I did that too) and then discover this snake was indeed stuck in the netting and in desperate need of rescue.
So who do you call? WIRES of course and who was the best person for this job at this time? Michael of course. Though not happy that I thought he had more time than me to do this.
But its not just about time is it? In this case he was the person who could lend a hand if necessary (and there was no way in the world I was going to wear that hat) and besides I had a Foodscape Tour to join
So what happened to “Clover” the snake you ask. Yes Hugh from WIRES called our snake Clover
Find out if here if there is a happy ending for Clover
Hugh from WIRES and Clover our friendly python who ate too many rats at once–thank god it wasn’t my chickens
When people ask me where I live I invariably reply I live in paradise and I am using this post as one of many to give you pictorial reasoning for this claim.
Clover Hill Dairies is located on two farms in the Jamberoo Valley the birthplace of the Australian dairy industry but more famous today as the place “where you control the action”
The home farm is located on the north east face of Saddleback Mountain in very steep rainforest country. In fact 50% of the farm is rainforest so when you run possibly the most intensive pasture based dairying operation in Australia and farm in this very precious environment you feel a huge responsibility to do what is right for the landscape, the cows and the wider community.
There is no denying it is a challenge but oh so worthwhile.
On Friday the cows where outside my house between the 4am and the 12 noon milking. My camera captured their noon stroll to the milking shed.
View from my front verandah. This becomes below when the cows move in.
Michael begins the midday milking roundup
There is no rush. Always time for a two way pose.
And no shortage of cows with plenty of attitude. 1453 is called Mandelyn Storm Favourite and she looks like she has been in the good paddock a bit too long not that she is complaining.
Michael has discovered why the cows are taking a bit longer than usual. There seems to be some silly woman standing in front of them taking pictures
He just shakes his head and gives me one of his cheeky grins
This week has been huge I have been everywhere but on farm ( hugs and kisses to the people who milk the cows. Thank god they don’t need to rely on me to wear that hat).
Yesterday was one of those blissful days where you come home elated (albeit very sunburnt. Note to self. Buy sunscreen for handbag)
What bought on this feeling of euphoria you ask? Well the answer to that is easy my sister Kerrie and I joined Jacqueline Weiley of Foodscape Tours on their South Coast Indulgence tour to Berry & Beyond.
Jacqueline Weiley is one of those wonderful people who not only wakes up everyday and says “I thank a farmer today” she spends her spare time spruiking regional farmers and produce far and wide in every way imaginable.
Love your work Jac
Here is a little background from the Foodscape Tours website
With a shared passion for food and a friendship spanning over 17 years, Jacqueline and business partner Karen launched Foodscape Tours in 2009 to acknowledge and celebrate regional food. Karen and her husband moved to Byron Bay in 2003 for a change of lifestyle. Karen saw an opportunity to leave a corporate marketing and communications career behind and follow one of her passions – food. She began working with a local food manufacturing company and soon became part of the growing Northern Rivers food industry.
Jacqueline began her marketing career working for a small consultancy offering marketing, public relations and distribution advice to gourmet food producers from Tasmania, igniting a life-long passion for food and quality produce. In 2009 she moved to the NSW South Coast to be closer to her family where she got to know the local producers. She soon discovered they were hungry to get involved with Foodscape Tours on the South Coast.
Kerrie and I were met in Gerringong at 8.30 am by Jac and her gorgeous dad Gordon who drives the bus
Our first port of call was to be the Berry Tea Shop where we sampled artisan teas in one of Berry’s most beautiful specialty retail stores
Owners Paulina and Cliff Collier say “Tea brings people together and has a beautiful sense of warmth and hospitality. It is something you can sit down with and enjoy with friends. There is also an important ritual around it – you are boiling the kettle, putting the leaves in the pot and letting it steep and, in our busy lives, it is something that brings you back to the present, even if just for 10 minutes of your day. And it’s great for your health – we should all drink to that!”
Kerrie says I will drink to that
Not only tea but every kind of tea pot and tea cup you could ever imagine
Christmas pudding tea cosies to boot
MMMMh interesting imagery on this tea pot
and Cliff produced scones to die for
Just ask Kerrie ( and I had two)
Are you really buying all those things Kerrie?
“Yes she is” says Paulina
“Its Christmas and my friends and family deserve the best of the best” says Kerrie
How excited was I to be out and about with my new Canon camera and 70-300mm zoom lens ( about which I know nothing about both) and get to watch an expert photographer in action
Kerrie and Jac with Penny and Philip from South Coast Style Magazine share tales of the Shoalhaven River with Neil from Riverside Strawberries
Next stop was South Coast Providores. It was great to catch up with the dynamic duo that is Carole Rutta and Ian Grey of South Coast Providores. Ian and Carole have a “local” philosophy on food and source over 85% of their ingredients from local farmers and growers. They also sell local produce every Friday at their “Locavore Friday” market.
Carole also played a key role in the bringing the South Coast Harvest Experience to our region and she and Ian are another great example of the exciting sea changers who are moving to our region and using their considerable talents to promote local food and the people who grow it
Kerrie’s friends are going to shout with glee when they see the South Coast Providores delicacies she bought for them and mine are going to tuck into roasted beetroot and red wine relish when they drop by for Christmas cheer and cheese
We then jumped back on the bus and took the road to Terrara where we would meet the first of the local producers Jo and Neil from Riverside Strawberries and Citrus.
But this story will have to wait until next time. First rule of blogging “keep your posts short and sweet” and you must admit this post had lots of sweets on offer
For information on Foodscape Tours contact. (I feel some gift vouchers coming on)
My name is Lynne Strong and I am a woman with many, many hats. Some I wear better than others I readily admit.
The one I wear most proudly though is my farmer hat. I will be the first to admit it isn’t a hat that I saw myself wearing as a little girl.
I grew up on a farm and even though I enjoyed being hands on in the day to day running of the farm and the lifestyle that comes with it the idea of being a farmer was most definitely not on my list of top 10 professions.
I farm today because the people I most care about in the world farm and they are in it for the long haul.
Farming today is no walk in the park. Feeding, clothing and housing the world now and in the next 50 years is going to require an extraordinary effort. This means we need extraordinary people to take up the challenge. My husband Michael, my son Nick and our farm team (and our cows) have put their hands up to take on the challenge and I want to work side by side with these extraordinary people.
So why write a blog. Well my family have been farming in the Jamberoo Valley on the South Coast of New South Wales since 1831 (and in Ireland and Scotland probably for centuries before that). That is 7 generations of farming families and 180 years of blood sweat, tears, passion and commitment that have gone into what is now producing milk for 50,000 Australians everyday
That’s 180 years of great stories waiting to be told. And I knew from my interactions with our friends and neighbours that the community wanted to hear those stories.
They just needed the right vehicle. So Art4Agriculture was conceived and Art4Agriculuture has its own entire wardrobe of hats.
But people keep telling me there was still a gap missing, we need more farmers to share their stories to help provide the community with real farmers they can relate to.
Writing a blog is indeed a great way to open the door to our farms, share our ups and downs, the frustrations and challenges, the passion and commitment but most of all show the community that the faith they have in Australian farm produce is warranted.
I am writing this blog to join other inspiring farmers who are opening thier farmgates and help inspire other farming men and women to share their stories. To help show them the community does love farmers, that they do want to hear our stories but they maybe a bit concerned about modern farming practices and whether the way we farm today fits into their rural idyll.
Lets not forget farmers are people and not all people are perfect but there is a whole nation of Australian farmers who get up everyday and say “today I want to move one step closer to being being a perfect farmer”.
What is the definition of perfect farming? That’s the challenge – that’s the two way conversation I would like to have with my readers.
I will put this one out there as a definition this morning “We believe that responsible farming is not only about ‘doing the right thing’ but makes sense – for our animals, our landscape, our people and our communities”.
So lets start the conversation I invite my readers to write me a mission statement for their “perfect” farm