Sometime late in July I recieved an email from the Manager of Industry Integrity Communications (don't ask me to break that down simply) of Meat and Livestock Austrlaia (MLA) about a competition that they were running at the Brisbane show, otherwise known as the Ekka. The competition was for primary schools and the aim was to decorate a template of a "cow" using the Cattleman's Creed:
We believe the best food is food that’s produced naturally. Pure food, real food, the way nature intended.
We believe the best beef comes from cattle raised on rich natural pastures and nutritious grains.
We’re committed to providing Australians with the highest quality, finest beef in the world.
As caretakers of the land, we have a special responsibility that should not be compromised
– protecting and preserving it for the generations to come.
We’re committed to caring for our cattle and keeping them healthy.
Using the wisdom from the past and the technology of tomorrow, we seek new ways of thinking to improve all that we do.
We respect our rich heritage, and we embrace a way of life that is integral to Australia’s unique spirit and cultural identity.
We’re proud to call ourselves Australia’s cattle farmers – living it and loving it, we’re committed to be the best we can be.
Australia’s cattle farmers
The top eight designs were then invited to the Ekka to put their designs onto a life-sized plaster cow.
Winning Entry from Nashville State School in Brighton, showing aspects of the Northern Beef Industry
Runner Up, Camp Hill State Infants and Primary School, Camp Hill, proudly displaying an Ekka Theme.
So anyway, a part of the prize for the Winner and Runner Up schools was to have a real live cattle farmer come and visit your school for the day. And the email from Deborah, the lovely MLA lady, was asking if I'd do the honour of being the real live cattle farmer. Me? A prize? pfffftttt. I must admit I was very very flattered.
But there were a few problems:
1: I'm not really a cattle farmer. My parents are, my siblings are, I grew up on a farm in North Queensland. But we are only hobby farmers, meaning we only have a little "farm" with a little herd, we can't make a living from it. But to kids in the city, 40 "cows" is a big thing. So that was the first problem solved, I would still pass as a farmer.
2: This was the big problem........how was I going to get there. God forbid I'd have to get in a plane. For those of you who haven't read my blogs before, read about my one and only experience with those flying machines. I have been managing somehow to avoid planes for the last 13 years. I nearly pulled out. I was having trouble sleeping just thinking about it!
But I pulled myself together, I did it when I was a mere 17 year old, I could do it again at the age of 30. I'd done scarier things, like child birth! I must admit I shed a few quiet tears as I walked towards the plane. But quickly got over myself.
So I'm sitting in the plane, so nervous I was fidgeting. So glad I got an aisle seat though, I didn't feel so hemmed in! A young man was sitting next to me, thought I'd better warn him that this was my first flight in "big" plane and to apoligise in advance if I grabbed him or jumped on his lap in sheer terror mid flight. He was very understanding and kind. And guess what? Apart from take off, I enjoyed myself. I wasn't sick on anyone no one was sick near me. All was good!
Next step: Navigating Brisbane Airport. I have only been to Brisbane 6 times in my life, I do not go to large cities very often. I was wondering how I was going to find my way around the airport to find Deborah, the lovely MLA lady! But because Deborah was lovely and knew of my fears (or perhaps paranoia) she was waiting right at the end of the walk way, looking at every woman coming off the plane mouthing "Kylie".
Out to the hire car (not only is Deborah lovely, she is also very capable, can drive in cities all around Australia and has even had a crack at driving in foreign places!) to begin our journey to the hotel. My goodness, the lights, the traffic, the buildings. It was like I was on a different planet. My home town doesn't even have a round-a-bout let alone traffic lights. Then we arrive at the hotel.
Now seeing as I don't travel much I'm no expert on hotels. But I liked this one, it was a bit plush compared to my usual surroundings. And it was quiet, it had no kids and no husband. Just me, all that space for just me!
So day one, we get into the little dinky hire car, with the trusty Nav Lady set to the first school address, Nashville. Nashville got right into the spirit of things and had a "come dressed as a farmer day". Even the admin ladies had checked shirts, pigtails and fake freckles! So I had a full on day, spending time with every grade telling funny stories, serious stories and answering funny questions and serious questions. These kids are so smart. And I was such a rock star, walking through the play ground kids would stop eating and stare at me walking past whispering behind their hands "that's her, that's the farmer........HELLO FARMER KYLIE!"
I must admit I slept well that night and slept with a smile on my face from spending the day with such lovely young people, I wondered if Day Two would be as fun.
So day two dawned bright and early, a lot earlier than I'm used to as Brisbane is further east than where I live. And soon we were off to inner-city Brisbane to Camp Hill. After circling round a few times, Nav Lady got confused on the roadworks, we seemed to be heading in the right direction. OH MY LORD! I can see the Storey Bridge.
OH MY GOODNESS IT'S GETTING CLOSER! HOLY DOOLEY WE ARE ACTUALLY DRIVING OVER THE STORY BRIDGE!
The things that tickle your fancy eh?
So off to Camp Hill for the day, being such a HUGE school, I only got time to spend with the couple of classes who entered the competition. Another great group of kids with lots of clever questions. And then all too soon, my trip to Brisbane was over. I was back on the plane to Townsville, a lot more calmer than the flight down!
Over the next few weeks when my life calms down a bit from all sorts of end of year school stuff for my own kids, I will try a post a few questions and stories I shared with the kids.
I hope that I made a positive impression on the schools, they certainly left one on me, I would love to be offered this opportunity again. Nothing is more satisfying than combining your passions, mine are Agriculture and children.
A big thank you to Deborah, my husband for his support, and especially my mum for looking after the kids. Another big thank you to Em Bradshaw from Wild Fillies Photography who let me use some of her awesome photos and all my lovely Facebook friends who shared their photos as well.