Thursday, 16 October 2014

Farming: Something to think about

I'm struggling on ideas on how to write this post, I've sorta got the ideas there, but wording them and bringing them all together is what is getting me at the moment. So please, be prepared! And like normal, please be aware that these are my opinions and my thoughts on things, I'm not here to be judged, I'm just here to write down what I'm thinking. Today is one of those kinda typical controversial topics (eek).

I'm gonna talk about farming related things, because currently, there is just so much going on - in Dairy especially. The payout is one thing, issues with the crazy weather at the moment is another. And there are a lot of people dying - either because they're killing themselves from the stress or it's something else like an accident on a quad that probably didn't need to happen. There is a lot of controversy going on; from the townies having a whinge and thinking they know everything there is to know about what we farmers do and are doing to ruin it for everyone else; ACC is running around being politically correct and telling us what to do. The list just goes on, and farming seems to be becoming more based on paperwork than just milking the cows.

What fueled this thought process of mine? It was waking up the other morning after a blissful sleep in, checking my Facebook and seeing a shared news article on yet another quad bike accident - another death. I thought to myself - why? Is it just general stupidity? A member of staff trying to be the hero to show off in front of his colleagues? Maybe the whole day had been utter crap, everything had gone wrong as it does on farms quite often, and this person just thought about what might've been going on at the time, and wasn't really thinking about what was going on around him. As a result, he died. Something to do with a quad and an effluent pond. I don't know the particulars, I'm not one to judge or gossip and bleat about what this person should've done and randomly point my finger at somebody to blame. That's not me. I'm just sitting in bed reading this and feeling absolutely dumbfounded about how easily it can and does happen. That poor family, losing somebody so quickly and having him be one of those "statistics" that there is such a big opinion about. Also, what a kick in the guts for other families who have lost people, to see a list of names of people who have also recently died from quad related accidents. What the heck is this?

I understand that it's good to be proactive and remind people about the dangers involved around four wheelers, but I personally believe that reminding people about the past isn't going to do anything other than bring back more bad memories of when other people had a family member hurt or killed. When Dad rolled his quad a month or so ago it scared the heck out of us. He was fine, sure - one of the lucky ones. But if he'd died, I wouldn't want to be reading an article and seeing his name there as a statistic! Although this is possibly only something little, it is part of the big picture.         
     People are judgmental towards farmers, especially when somebody dies. And I don't think that's fair. If somebody dies from a drunk driver, sure go ahead and be judgmental towards drunk drivers, it needs to be done. But 99.99% of the time, farmers are there doing GOOD THINGS! We don't like our people dying, we are horrified if somebody commits suicide. If our animals break out onto the main road and are killed or injured, I know all I'd want to do is go somewhere and cry - but what about that nasty storm we might've just had? What if they were running because they were scared of what was going on around them? Heaps of our animals have been hurt, those animals that we've worked out butts off to care for, yet the first thing you do is point the finger and us and say "It was YOUR FAULT".
     That would be just like saying to somebody who'd run their child over in a driveway, "Well, maybe if you'd shown more care, then it wouldn't have happened?" You don't blimmen well do that, so why do people do it to farmers? Remember that 99.99% of the time, we do everything in our power to look after our farm and our animals because they are our livelihood, without them we would be nothing. It's the same thing when those 10 calves were hit by trucks recently when they broke onto the road. Who knows what happened for those calves to be up and running wild in the early hours of the morning when generally they'd be asleep? Nobody knows, but what we do know is that 10 happy, healthy calves that have probably recently be weaned are now dead because they got hit by trucks. Marvelous way to die? It's not fair when we work for hours on end in our busiest time of year to raise the calves that will keep food on our tables in a couple years time, to find that a bunch are all dead overnight. An old saying is, "You have live stock, you have dead stock" but it's not fair when straight away people point the fingers at us and tell us that it was lucky nobody (person) died. Because of course it's gonna be our fault! Who else is there to blame?!

People constantly call farmers rich, I know from personal experience from my own townie relatives that they pass judgement on us. The townies are extremely unforgiving and remember everything to a fine detail when we do something wrong. One farmer beating his cows will instantly have the entire industry cowering under the glaring eyes of the animal activists who believe that if one person does it, everyone will. But (heaven forbid) if we do something good....if you're following me you'll understand that there will be no comment at all.

Recently, the country has been getting its eyes opened to all the farmers out there who just can't handle the pressure anymore and decide to just make it stop. It's one of those topics that nobody wants to hear about, but everyone needs to be aware. You know, life isn't all rosy like a lot of people think it is. When everything is going well, when the weather is perfect and the payout is high, we're judged on being "typical rich farmers". But when everything is actually pretty scary, like this year. Many people just turn a blind eye. The weather has been crap across most of the country this winter, the spring has been quite wet so far and knowing our luck we'll probably get a drought for the third season in a row. But to top it all off, the payout has crashed. That's not our fault, it's nobody's fault.      
     But what I'm saying is, a lot of farmers are going to be struggling this season and next and maybe, instead of everyone turning a blind eye because it doesn't affect them, maybe they should actually open their eyes and SEE what is happening and do something about it.
    Yes, it is getting out there...slowly. But maybe if the urban community actually begin to support the farmers of this country, maybe we wouldn't lose so many of our people. It's hard enough getting youth interested and good at farming these days (rather than seeing it as an easy pocket filler), let alone losing the backbone in the older generation sooner than we need to.

So my suggestion is, don't be too quick to judge, don't blame all of us for one person's mistakes and try to be more forgiving. For all it's worth, farmers are just trying to do their best in what is being offered to them, which lately isn't much. And next time you go to your supermarket and buy a bottle of milk or some meat, remember that it isn't synthetic. It was only packaged in factories, but it was grown in the field.


  1. You know, apparently a new statistic is out; 22 farmers a year commit suicide because of the stresses of farming. You poor farmers have it tough. I was born and grew up on a farm so I get it.

  2. My partner could of been one of these statistics recently when he became sucidal and snapped because of the long hours, stress etc etc. Luckily we got to him in time and he is now getting the support he needs but scary stuff and people don't get how this can happen

    1. And unfortunately farmers are the type to keep everything behind closed doors, mask it and then the rest of us would never see it coming :(
      I'm glad that he's on the way up now though. I agree, I've heard of a lot of people attempt to ask for help and although the people they speak to are there for that reason, sometimes they just can't and don't understand the situation and you're back at square one.