Photo: You probably see beautiful blue skies – we see no clouds, no sign of rain, dry paddocks getting barer by the day!
We’re coming up to the middle of the year, and we can say from all of us on McIvor Farm, the year has seen a lot of challenges.
As the drought continues, we’ve seen the price of feed increase and more recently with less feed in the paddocks the pig eat more of the grain mix – a double whammy! Each day we still have to feed our animals, so for now, there is no other option – we must pay the higher price for the lowering yields of grain across the country. Our beautiful green, luscious farm now seems like a barren dustbowl.
As the photo above shows the paddocks are dry and bare so the clear days bring wind which blows across the paddocks as dust.
From personal perspective (or, as personal as you can separate business and life on a working family farm), we’re not feeling as positive as we did a few months back. We’re struggling to feel motivated to interact with those outside our gate, including all of our supporters here, online. We feel your love, and thank each and every one of you who has reached out, liked, shared or commented on our social media – every little bit of support counts.
We don’t want to sound like ‘whinging farmers’, we know that this is the lifestyle we’ve chosen. Though we must say, any lifestyle that relies on weather is inherently stressful, as it’s outside of our control.
Jason and I are working hard, but seeing it all become dust before our eyes is chipping away at our morale. Our eyes well up with tears and we think “stop it, toughen up and get back to work! There’s no time to feel so sad.” So we put on our boots and walk back outside.
A close girlfriend of ours who is also a small business operator said to me yesterday “business can be hard at times, but I shut the door and go home”. For us, there is no shutting the door to keep the problems locked ‘over there’, our business is where we live, it’s our home. I look out the window while eating breakfast and see the dry paddocks and the dust, then like a bath with the plug pulled out, my morning energy and optimism for the new day is drained from me.
The pressure of being a farmer is at times, overwhelming. Like many jobs choices and sacrifices have been made. I’m sure most can relate to being proud of what you do, not showing weakness – but gosh, are we doing it tough!
What can you do to help a farmer in drought?
Keep turning up at the farmers markets, farm gates and produce shops. Your continued support keeps us in business. We’re not sitting on huge piles on gold coins, each pack of sausages or roast you buy from us goes into buying feed for our pigs, putting fuel in our vehicles, running coolrooms, processing animals and paying all the standard operating bills.
We want all of our customers who love locally grown food and want to continue to see food produced in Australian to feel like they’ve got skin in the game. We’re coming to a time of ‘use it or lose it’, once small producers go out of business there will be less competition in the market and fewer options for consumers to eat locally and sustainably.
What are we doing?
We’re in survival mode.
Some days we’re treading water doing the priority of feeding and caring for the pigs, other days we dip below and feel like we’re drowning.
We’re trying to put strategies in place to take out the emotion from decision making.
Turning up to the Farmers Markets – farmers markets really have a mental health aspect to us. Being able to get off the farm, talk about the delicious pork we produce and most of all interacting with people that really appreciate our efforts. We sometimes put on a brave face when you ask ‘how are you going’ – but that’s ok; sometimes best to talk about something us besides the weather and the farm!
Lastly, every day we pray for rain. The forecast this week is promising so after jotting down this blog post we’re all going to lift our chins to the sky in hopes of seeing the clouds roll through and finally getting the soaking we need to make us feel like we’re not drowning.