I know I promised to regularly update my blog (and my website for that matter), but as tends to happen, I have been bogged down in life in the store and on the farm and before I knew it, almost 12 months passed by with little to no updates, for this I am sorry.
But this post isn't about 'picking the best colour for your nursery' (a very topical point in our home at the moment), this post is a little more personal!
I was well aware of the drought when I moved to the farm and while we had no significant rains last year, Hamish produced; from what I could see, a reasonable yield on his crops, expanded the farm into livestock and to my knowledge, has successfully run a small feedlot.
Something that cropped up in conversation a lot as the feedlot grew, was the price of stock being sold north of us...because of the drought. I understood it was pretty dire, but ignorantly assumed that it was just marginally worse than what we were experiencing, and so continued on with my farm life.
When I opened the doors to the store, and had a feeling I would appeal to the wives and girlfriends of farmers or those whose livelihood is reliant upon the land rather than the people living in town and wasn't wrong in my assumptions.
I started talking about rain in the same way I use to talk about the daily work commute in Sydney...you know the question you ask but you already know the answer to; 'shit house'.
I have made a point of stocking and supplying Australian made products, or those that are ethically sourced or manufactured by small business owners to capitalise on the market I was targeting and despite being extremely juvenile in this regional retail field and the fact I am by no means setting the world on fire I have managed to establish wonderful relationships with many farming families, all the while being aware of the drought that surrounds me and not doing anything to acknowledge it or support it.
As the partner of a farmer, on a farm in regional NSW, about to introduce a new generation of farmers to life on the land I am fortunate enough to be located in the 2% of NSW that is currently not in drought; not yet that is. I have the means to be able to make people aware of the state of the State and I feel obliged to give back to the community that has so far supported me.
You may not be aware as the daily news fails to adequately highlight the issues affecting rural Australia; but 100's of 1000's of livestock are dying or being killed on a daily bases across eastern Australia. Water supplies are at critical levels and the cost of buying and supplying feed is more than most farmers can afford. Inability to cope with these conditions has led to an increase in what is an already disturbingly high number of farming related suicides and it breaks my heart to see young children living without proper food or water because their families have no means to support them. I am guilty of the out of sight, out of mind mentality but this is a crisis, it should be considered a natural disaster and whether you know it or not, it does affect people far from the regional communities living through this.
For the month of August I will be setting up the physical and online store with some new products, including some original artworks and prints, locally made timber wares and a range of other goods to then host a drought relief fundraiser on the first weekend in September. I know its a seemly small gesture or one that is mutually beneficial but my aim is not to personally profit, it is to encourage people to sit up and take note, to give a little back to the industry that directly or indirectly has supported so many of us.
If you are not good with computers or don't live within a 500km radius of Echuca, but want to help anyway jump on this site https://www.ruralaid.org.au and make a donation. I will keep you all updated over the next 4 weeks and of course let you know what contribution is made in September. XX