Passionate About Australian Agriculture
To me, it’s always interesting to hear about farming in different parts of the country. But to listen to someones story of their farm from a different hemisphere is totally enthralling. Bess emailed me saying she was sorry about sending me her answers so late because they had just started planting this week when we just started harvesting. I am amazed at how small the internet has made the world. Bess tells her farm’s story at Tales of a Cotton Wife.
1. Tell a little about you and your operation.
I’m Bess, I’m 25 and my partner Andrew is 27. He’s been the manager of the farm where we live since he was 21 and I have been a stay-at-home-housewife and extra pair of farmhands since moving here 3 years ago. Andrew and I both lived our early childhoods in the country but our families moved to Brisbane, Queensland, when we were in early primary school.
We both lived and worked on and off in Brisbane. I worked in administration in the inner-city from the time I finished high school and Andrew went to Agricultural college at 15 knowing that farming was in his blood and what he needed to do.
We lived only minutes from each other and travelled the same roads to work daily but never met until the week of my 23rd birthday.
A friend introduced us and I never would have imagined meeting someone and barely 12 weeks later quitting my job on the spot and moving 600kms away to be with him.
I never believed in the ‘when you find the one you’ll just know’ mumbo-jumbo but when it happened I certainly did. That was 3 years ago and looking back now it was a little crazy but it’s as perfect now as it was the day I arrived on the farm for the first time.
Operationally: we’re irrigated cotton growers located 40kms SE of Mungindi, NSW, Australia (about 720kms NNW of Sydney).
Our property consists of around 10,000 acres in total, which is split into:
3,800acres of flood irrigated row crop country
350acres of dryland cropping
425acres of on farm water storage dams (holding approx 10,000megalitres or 8,100acre-feet at full capacity)
700acres of roads, channels and drains etc.
4,700acres of scrubby cattle country.
We run around 400head of cattle that are mixed bred but predominantly hereford, limousine and angus.
We grow some of the highest yielding cotton on earth ranging anywhere from 4.5-5.9bales per acre with a steady average of 5.25bales/acre.
We personally grow almost 100% conventional cotton though 98% of the cotton grown in Australia is genetically modified (e.g.. round-up ready, bollgard).
We also grow dryland cotton as well as wheat, barley, sorghum and some other crops as rotations.
We are no-till farmers and also meet all BMP (best management practice) criteria.
2. What made you want to start your blog?
We are absolutely passionate about our industry and Australian Agriculture as a whole.
We believe our country is lagging behind the world in the push to maintain and further food security and protect agriculture.
Here in Australia, farmers are not subsidized at all, we are under constant threat from laws which make coal mining and coal seam gas extraction allowable anywhere, with limited negotiation and compensation to landholders, we are subject to extremely stringent land clearing and development laws and currently we are also facing a massive battle to secure the future of water for irrigation in the driest country on earth.
Australia has a landmass of mass of approximately 7,692,030 km ² (or 1,900,742,007acres) with a population of 22million, more than 70% of which is concentrated in the 10 largest cities most of those are again concentrated along the east coast. We believe many people in our city-centric country have lost touch and understanding in where their food & fibre comes from and just how much goes into providing it.
These days there are millions of people world wide prepared to advocate for their beliefs in animal rights, veganism and environmentalism (naming only a few). Yet these same people are not self sufficient and still rely on the ‘providers of the picnic and the blanket’ for survival. Even more alarmingly there ARE NOT millions of farmers and their supporters fighting back to safeguard the image, livelihoods and rights of our industries.
Through our blog we hope to offer a snap shot of just how much goes into growing jeans and t-shirts and why we do things the way we do, in the hope that by changing one mind about our industry we might start a ripple effect.
3. What has been the biggest surprise since you started? or something you didn’t expect:
We literally only started ‘Advocating a few months ago after Troy and Stacy Hadrick did a fabulous interview on our national agricultural news program. It was a kick up the pants for us to get in and start doing something. So after having a Blog and Twitter account sit there for 2 years, thinking no one would want to hear us we got in, boots and all, and made a start.
So far, we’ve been a little overwhelmed with the response from people all around the world. We were aiming at reaching reasonably local Australian communities and over shot the mark to touch the globe. We also didn’t think that we would get anywhere near as much enjoyment out of sharing our greatest love, cotton, as what we are.
4. What is your favorite post and why?
It’s a tie between this one: How Does Your Cotton Grow Like This
I had an absolute ball making it and it has also provided a great little tool for explaining the very minimal basics of growing cotton.
And this one: CMC Is Loving this Country and US
We had an absolutely amazing time with the guys from CMC (Country Music Channel) being interviewed and sharing our story.
5. What obstacles have you met and how did you overcome them?
We’ve been struggling to find time to keep up with all our social media in recent weeks as our pre-season work is so busy. But, some long nights and help from close friends has helped us start to catch up a little bit now. It’s also been a little tricky to remember that nearly everyone knows nothing about what we do so we have to explain everything.. But I think we’re getting there; slowly but surely.
What do you think of Bess’ story from down under?