As a first generation farmer, having been on our farm (Echo Valley Farms) for just 4 years, this season has created opportunity to reflect… Transparency and honesty are values I believe in. If we had it our way, our animals would be on healthy, diverse green pastures all the time, foraging and experiencing all the joys of nature… but at the moment they’re not. Our paddocks are mostly brown and losing cover, our pigs and chickens are still foraging, but there’s no green pick, our cattle are eating a mix of dry grass (what’s left, and what we can agist) , hay and supplemented feed.
It’s not pretty.
It’s not romantic.
As a farmer, yes experiencing drought, it’s difficult not to just cope with the physical nature of drought – longer hours, animals that require more, paddocks that stand bare and dry – but also to battle the mental challenges it presents.
Do we love our animals? 100%!
Is our farm ideal in its current state? No!
Do we experience guilt, frustration and, yes, despair when we see our animals in the environments as they are? YES!
We acknowledge and realise we don’t have all the answers or the powers (despite all the attempted rain dances)… but as we experience this tough season, we’ve been learning how our landscape reacts and is impacted by our animals and our choices. We’re innovating into waste stream feed for our animals as a sustainable and environmentally supportive feed source and learning to make decisions that move us closer to those ‘healthy, diverse green paddocks ‘ when the season does finally change…
So, as we do this, we ask for support. Support your local farmers, not in handouts, but through understanding, education and buying local!! Despite the season, despite the challenge… Know your farmers, know your food!
Juanita, Randal, Eli and Bridey Breen run Echo Valley Farms – based on a 300 acre property in the Goomburra Valley in South East Queensland. Being first generation farmers, Juanita and Randal approach their farming operation based on the ‘4 Good’ principles – good for the animal, good for the land, good for the farmer and good for you. Find more out about these straight up legends here.
You can find them every Saturday at the Davies Park Markets in West End or they deliver to Wandering Cooks every week – take a look at what they’ve currently got in stock here.
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