An Ode to the Quiet Farmer

Josie Angus

I lament the quiet farmer,The farmer who is not on Facebook, not at a three day course, not chained to his computer filling out an eternal pile of quality assurance forms.As the quiet farmer rides into a 1000 acre scrub and then out the other side with 100 bullocks padding gently in a line behind him – a group of faceless people behind a desk work out how to “fix” animal welfare. As people gather to debate grazing management , the quiet farmer sees every herb and grass that will grow from his cherished soil, he can tell you which one the season suited most this year and last and he smiles thinking of those special years when the flinders can fatten a crowbar. The quiet farmer sees all of earths creatures that share his land, he knows where to look, how to track them. He listens to them, they generally know a lot more about what is going on than the BOM. The quiet farmer stares down drought and flood, they’ve come before, they’ll come again, he stares them down, firm in the knowledge his resilience is only outstripped by that of his land, his home for generations. His strength comes from the knowledge that in that good season the bounty and beauty of his land will once again hold him in awe and heal the wounds of those tougher years.The quiet Farmer doesn’t make a big song and dance about change. He quietly takes on those things that work, and discards those that won’t. He responded to the call to cease tilling, that cultivating was bad, he now ponders the debate that spraying is bad, the same spraying that bought him no-till and even cover crops, but he tends to find his land will speak the loudest in the end. The quiet farmer has patience, he has seen many a Government come and go. He has driven the Bureaucrats around in his ute, had them tell him he needed to pull more trees to maintain his lease, only to have them decide five years later that he pulled too many. He patiently watches his scrub thicken, watches the large trees struggle with a mess of undergrowth, he mutters, shakes his head and carries on in the knowledge that a scientist will cotton on to the carbon potential in looking after those grand old trees sooner or later and the regulatory wheel will turn full circle, one day.The quiet farmer has watched dams be built to forge a nation, dams not be built to save the environment and even dams be drained to restore “environmental flows”. From building leaky dams and slowing water to restore water tables and hydrate the landscape, to a national plan that demands we empty lakes and have wild rivers to get as much water to the sea as quickly as possible, the quiet farmer has seen it all.He listens to people lament the lack of financial literacy in the bush as he quietly acquires more land, he’s seen many a corporate come and go. They talk about innovation and the lack of uptake, he scratches his head and wonders who they are talking about, innovate and adapt is all that he and his peers have ever known, with a falling real price and ever increasing cost and regulation, he ponders that people don’t tend to last too long out here without innovating. The quiet farmer sees the headline talking about this massive degradation of soil, he wonders where that data came from, he’s never had someone knock on the door to evaluate his soil, his land’s biodiversity or to see the results of all that legume seed he put out last year, those fences and troughs he built, maybe if he had asked for a Government hand out, they might have noticed the work he had done. You might imagine the quiet farmer to be an old man with brown cracked hands and weathered face, but the quiet farmer is young, old, man or woman, the quiet farmer represents most of us. At your next round table, pull up a chair for the quiet farmer. Leave it empty, he won’t make it today, he’ll be in his paddock, “doing” the stuff that is written on your agenda. If you are a bureaucrat, a representative or a consultant, consider that your place at the table exists because of the quiet farmer. Unfortunately many of you perpetuate your existence by feeding the myth that the quiet farmer is destroying our environment. After you finish your meeting, make sure you head out and visit a quiet farmer, he’ll always offer you a cuppa, take a drive with him through his paddocks, listen to him, learn from him, observe his land and his livestock, you might just be surprised.

May be an image of 1 person, standing, horse, nature and grass

Published by Nelle

I am interested in writing short stories for my pleasure and my family's but although I have published four family books I will not go down that path again but still want what I write out there so I will see how this goes

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