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I am 7th Generation in the Australian Cattle Industry. I grew up on a cattle station in North Queensland. My husband and I run a Livestock Agency (hence the reference to mobile phones)as well as a small hobby farm with our two young children.

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Sunday, 6 October 2013

Inspiring the Little People in my life

My Children Have the Best Role Models
A couple of weeks ago, I was having a discussion with Pip Courtney from ABC Landline about why my kids loved Landline (when we have a chance to watch it).

She asked their ages (they are 7 and 9) and why did I think they liked Landline.  Being a Twitter conversation I only had 140 characters to answer Pip, I simply said “They like to see all types of farming”.  But it goes so much further than that… Why do they love farming?

Ella-Beth and Clancy getting up close to their steers

So I thought about it and promptly forgot about it again, until this morning with another Twitter conversation about what poor role models certain NRL players are, but the League continues to reward them regardless of their off field behaviour.  I mentioned that I was glad that my kids have some pretty excellent role models.

So I thought I’d give a shout out to these people who my kids look up to (besides those fantastic role models in our family).  Before I start I should mention that Clancy wants to be a Cotton/Beef Farmer, a football player and chopper pilot (possibly crop dusting, but maybe mustering) and Ella-Beth wants to be an Agriculture Teacher, so that she can teach children all about farming.

Clancy’s love of cotton (unusual when we’re in the middle of beef country) started when he saw the  video “How Does Cotton Grow In Australia”  by Bess Gairns, from Cotton Wife.  He was fascinated and this little spark has been nurtured by Bess and her partner Andrew, who take the time to send the kids cotton, and Andrew has answered questions from Clancy on Twitter, mainly about the size of irrigation pipes!
Bess and Andrew

Bess and Andrew and their little bundle of joy Eddison (or Noodle as he is known to my kids) not only inspire my kids (and Shane and I as well) on farm, but in their “other life” as well.  Just after receiving the cotton in the mail (and cementing a huge bond via Facebook), Bess went into spontaneous labour with Eddison at around three months early and the kids followed his fight for life and still celebrate any little milestone he makes.  They were most excited when they first got to meet him (and Bess and briefly Andrew) last year.  Knowing that Eddison was born just before cotton picking, Ella-Beth was asking how far away Bess and Andrew lived, and if there was any way we could help them.   But Bess and Andrew aren’t the only ones who inspire my children. 

Eddison's inspiring journey

Last year the kids and I drove to St George (some 1200km away) to attend the Queensland Rural, Regional and Remote Women’s Network  (QRRRWN) conference.  Along the way, we stopped overnight with Sherrill, who I’d never met, but had formed a strong friendship on Facebook with.  Sherrill runs (oh, with her husband) a feedlot and she has CROPS!!  This was exciting, because even I couldn't recall being so close to crops!

Two of Sherrill's gorgeous boys, Charlie and Eddie with Ella-Beth, Clancy and I in the oats

We traveled on to St George, and we were to partake in a bus tour of some local farms.  The bus was full so I said I would follow along in the car, and QRRRWN President, Georgie Somerset said she’d come with us.  Georgie made a lasting impression on the kids as well, even if Clancy can’t remember her name and just refers to her as “The Boss Lady”.  I think it helped that Georgie had a whisper in the ear of the bloke at The Vanderfield Dealer and cotton farmer, Glen Rogan about the kids love of cotton and Clancy’s obsession with John Deere because the kids were presented with little bits of merchandise and allowed to climb all over the million dollar balers!

We made the trek to Roma again this year in March, to stay at Sherrill’s and attend Influetional Women with Catherine Marriott (or Mazz as she’s fondly known as).   More about Mazz later!

Ella-Beth and Clancy finally got to meet Steph Grills!  I’d met up with Steph a few times as Young Farming Champions, so the kids were glad to meet her finally!  They love seeing photos of Steph come up on Facebook, her easy laugh endeared her to them
Steph and her sheep

We also got to meet Lisa Wood!  Lisa lives in Indonesia and works with exporters, feedlots and abattoirs to help them meet high animal welfare standards.  Lisa brought her laptop with hundreds of photos and she lay on the floor, surrounded by four kids aged between 3 and 8 and had them absolutely enthralled by pictures from her world. The big hit was the Hello Kitty Car!
Lisa captured the attention of Ella-Beth, Clancy, Archie and Charlie (Two of Sherrill's boys) for ages!

And Mazz…. Well, holey dooly, didn't Mazz’s vivaciousness leave a lasting impression on Ella-Beth and Clancy.  Like all who come into contact with her, the kids spent most of their time with Mazz shaking their heads in bemusement or letting out big old belly laughs.  I had Landline’s recent segment  on the latest QRRRWN conference playing the other day and Mazz’s voice boomed out, bringing the kids running to the TV yelling “IT’S MAZZ, IT’S MAZZ!!”.

Mazz's love for life touches us all

And just after Mazz in the segment came the beautiful smile of one of Ag’s loveliest Angels, Alison Fairleigh who travelled a couple of hours to visit us earlier in the year.  While Mazz’s laugh is infectious, Ali has a smile that lights up the whole room.  The kids, sensing a soft but strong heart, were instantly drawn to Ali (like we all are).  I hope that one day when they are old enough, they will understand the truly amazing work that Ali does for Rural Australia.

Alison has a smile that lights up the room

Towards the end of last year, at the ripe old age of six, Clancy was struggling  with all he wanted to be.  Could he really be a beef AND a cotton farmer? Then came along the Young Farming Champion Richie Quigley with his video.  After watching it twice, Clancy turned to me just beaming with excitement “Mum, I CAN be everything I want to be, because Richie is everything I want to be”.  Richie continues to inspire young fellas, and I must admit he’s a pretty good role model!  Speaking of YFC’s, the kids were also very taken with Stephanie Tarlinton’s sweet nature when she passed through town last year.  Her YFC video “Farm Girls Love Shoes Too” is another big hit in our house!

It’s not just these people, it’s the Lynne Strong’s from Art4Agriculture of this world who has given me the opportunity to meet most of these people through Young Farming Champion, otherwise my kids would never be exposed to them.  It’s people like Bessie from Bessie at Burragan and Melissa from Quebon Coloured Sheep who take the time to mail the kids wool.  It’s theFarmer Bron’s of this world who when we visit, spends just as much time talking to the kids as to me! 

And all the others, the men who stop to shake Clancy’s hand at the Saleyards. It’s the Manager of our local Landmark office, Taisha who is a female under thirty giving it a great go despite tough times in the North,  in what was very recently known as a man’s world. You show Ella-Beth that girls can do anything (and Clancy's pretty rapt in your love for lego too).   

The list goes on and on, it takes the whole farming community to raise our next generation of farmers and support industries.. 

So, thanks to all of you who inspire my kids. You might get some knockers, but when it seems that the world is against you, just remember that there are two little people who look up to you.  And to them, they can be their “everything”  because they see you doing it.

And I’ve just realised something… these people don’t only inspire and provide fantastic role models for my kids… they are my heroes too

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