The China/Kimberley connection

Ex’seed’ingly dry…
May 10, 2015
Successful Complacency
March 2, 2016
Ex’seed’ingly dry…
May 10, 2015
Successful Complacency
March 2, 2016

As the satellite picture from my last blog indicated the district did get some rain but nowhere near as much as was expected or for that matter needed. The weather apps and websites that farmers use in this modern age are viewed by many to be a double edged sword, while they do give the men (and of course women) on the land some forewarning as to what conditions maybe ahead the fact that rainfall predictions are often way off the mark can cause frustration and in some cases a real sense of disappointment.

With some of this technology having the ability to forecast rain as far as ten days out it is not only the fact that there weren't as many millimetres, inches or 'points' as expected from what had looked liked a very promising cold front but also that according to Metvuw, Weatherzone or the BOM (Bureau of Meteorology) there is unlikely to be any rain for the next week. This in turns increases anxiety around not only the rain we didn't get but also the rain that it doesn't look like we are going to get.

With seeding finished the focus has shifted a little towards the sheep side of the business due to lambing being in full swing and the lamb price being good. This last point has seen Kissa and Wifey decide to sell off a reasonable number of last year's ram lambs with the first stage of the process being the completely unpredictable task of loading the sheep onto the truck.

Owing mainly to a somewhat harrowing experience involving a hefty ewe, a yard post and the part of the anatomy cricket commentators often refer to as "just below the stomach" my first experience of this element of sheep work was not particularly favourable. Despite these initial misgivings I have actually come to quite enjoy the art of trying to persuade sheep of all shapes and sizes to alight a truck to begin their journey towards a prime spot in a butcher's showcase.

As I outlined in one of my very first blogs back in May 2013 when it comes to the time it takes to complete sheep work the following formula can be applied:

(A) = time in minutes you were told it would take to do……..

1. Sheep work = (A) multiplied by 2.75 (3.25 in summer as dogs get tired quicker and are always looking for either water or shade)

This formula proved to be particularly accurate during our last lot of sheep loading which happened to coincide with a camera crew and someone from the Corporate Affairs department of the company I work for visiting Mulga Springs.

Their visit was in relation to a 'Day in the Life' series being produced by the company and while I am still somewhat embarrassed by the attention I am happy that there will be at least for a small amount of time a focus on the fact that people can work for a big multinational company and live in regional Australia.

Our next stop took 'The Crew' to the Kimberley region of WA and more specifically to a remote Aboriginal community called Nookenbah where we were involved with an indigenous suicide prevention workshop called Deadly Thinking. Being part of a project like this was a humbling, awe inspiring and somewhat confronting experience with the opportunity to spend time with three of the community's elders being a highlight.

Due to the fact we flew out to Nookenbah on a chartered plane it was less than two hours after leaving the community that I found myself sitting on the decking of the Mangrove Hotel overlooking Roebuck Bay with a beer in hand contemplating my time there. Suffice to say that in itself was a bit of a surreal experience with the overriding emotion I experienced being that of guilt for the fact I was enjoying the relative luxury of Broome in comparison to the somewhat less salubrious surroundings I had so recently been a part of in Nookenbah.

To my detriment I had been having thoughts such as "Why would people with young children want to live somewhere like that" and "what future will there be for those children" when a memory from a trip to China several years ago forcefully asserted itself in my mind.

I was in a China visiting my best mate DC who was at the time working for the Australian Embassy in Beijing and as any good host would do he had a organised a car and a driver to take us out to a section of the Great Wall (that is the wonder of the world Great Wall not the dodgy 4WD manufacturer Great Wall). On the way out there we stopped at a small farming village to invest in a couple of lukewarm bottles of beer and as I thoughtfully sipped my Tsingtao I saw two women crouched in the rice fields with babies strapped to their backs working away in what looked like a very uncomfortable position. A short time later DC pointed out the communist slogans plastered all over the rundown buildings and commented that the two women probably hadn't seen any foreigners for a couple of years.

A brief conversation ensued:

Me – Look at those two women and how tough that work is they are doing, why would they want to live out here and bring up children living in a village which has essentially nothing.

DC- I wouldn't worry too much about it mate as those two women are probably looking at us and saying "Look at those two idiots who just got out of that big, black car, who would want to be stuck in there when it is such a beautiful day, can you believe they are drinking warm beer? They must be stupid"

Reflecting on my experience in the village that day and comparing it to my journey to Nookenbah I was reminded of the point that DC was making in that it is the height or arrogance to assume that just because it is not how you would want to live it doesn't mean other people can't be fulfilled by where they call home and what they do there.

The program is run by an organisation called the Australasian Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health (ACRRMH) and as well as doing work with indigenous communities they are also heavily involved in providing mental health programs for the agricultural and FIFO sectors. Essentially anyone interested in Mental Health in the regions should take a look at their website http://www.acrrmh.com.au

One of my goals is to get ACRRMH to Northampton to run a workshop or two although I would suggest one way to improve every farmer's mental health instantly would involve reducing the amount of times weather websites are monitored….

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Nookenbah.

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Rob the film star…..

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Kimberley Sunset

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