MANNING VALLEY farmer Natasha Yarrington says the good always outweighs the bad when it comes to dairy farming, even when it’s looking a bit ugly out the back door.
“We’re great compared to farmers over the range in NSW; we have a bit of green grass and we’re thankful we still have irrigation,” Ms Yarrington said.
But she admits it’s challenging when she looks over mostly dry and brown paddocks and the rainfall gauge shows less than half last year’s tally.
“We’re not in a great position when you couple the conditions with low milk prices and extremely high grain prices,” Ms Yarrington said.
“The next few months are going to be very testing and there are days that try your resilience even more than usual.”
Attending the 2018 Bale Up Women in Dairy conference in September has helped Ms Yarrington build that resilience.
She was supported by Dairy Australia through the Australia’s Legendairy Women’s Network to attend the conference organised by NSW Women in Dairy.
“It’s good to share these challenging times with other women,” she said.
“One of the main themes of the conference was coping through tough times and how to build resilience in ourselves, our families and our communities.
“The best way to cope is to talk about it with someone else who’s going through the same thing.”
Ms Yarrington farms with her husband Rod and their four children Alexis, Rylee, Jack and Layla at Dollys Flat near Wingham in NSW, milking 120 Brown Swiss cows. She is a third-generation farmer and her husband is the sixth generation to farm the land.
Dairying remains a major economic force in the region. There are 140 farms in the Manning Valley producing 135 million litres of milk a year and employing 500 people.
Despite this tough season, Ms Yarrington sees a bright future for the industry and is pleased her children can share it.
Their eldest children are home-schooled, learning about life and farming at the same time.
“The farm is part of their life and it’s good for them, they get up and do their school work and then they learn on the farm,” Ms Yarrington said.
“Seeing my childhood again through their eyes is just beautiful.”
Sharing stories with fellow women farmers has been invaluable for Ms Yarrington as a farmer and a mother.
“Rod and I work together every day, we nut out the problems and solve them together but it’s great to connect with women like me living on a farm with small kids.
“We share our stories, our challenges, our successes and our ideas.
“The fact that we’re raising our children how we were raised is really important to us.”
Ms Yarrington has always been keen to help fellow farmers. She was previously co-ordinator of the local Young Dairy Network and was this year elected chair of the Mid North Coast Dairy Advancement Group, an industry group promoting Dairy NSW events to local farmers.
It also promotes youth in agriculture and organises what has become one of the biggest dairy industry dinners in Australia.
“We had 310 people at the dinner this year; I love that we can come together once a year and ask how’s the farm going — we all have that in common,” Ms Yarrington said.