Who will do it then?

I’ll tell ya this much for free… living on the land is an absolute honour, always has been and always will be. The great open spaces to raise a family, to witness the sun rises and sun sets, the animals, the grass lands, the comradery, the solitude and the ownership. To be a true part of the history of a young and growing nation as you build a life or continue a family tradition carved out of in many cases a rugged bush land – what an absolute treat, a notion to treasure and inner warmth to behold.

But take this on board… this life isn’t for everyone, it isn’t easy and if it were truly profitable and continuously enjoyable less people would be departing the industry in the droves that they presently are. If it were safe, secure and overly healthy or stress free people other than other foreign businesses would be lining up to get involved. The land is hard and often unforgiving, the life can be lonely and on occasion unrewarding, and while most do it by choice… I pause to pose this one very simple question… if not us, then who? Who will do it all?  

Who will feed the millions? Both on this land and abroad… Governments have said in the past when that question was posed, that they’d simply import! I say, From where? And at what cost? And of what value?

Who will clothe the very same millions? Billions even?!

This isn’t a trick question, this is a very simple question, and believe me it’s by no means a question that infers in any way that other folks in other industries don’t bust their hump or work long and hard… but life on the land, making an income, is different, and so I repeat… who will do it all?

Who will till the land and who will tend the animals? And in that, who will endure the heartache and the challenges that just those two aspects of rural enterprise encompass? Who will rise early, toil amongst the elements and return after dark? Who will swallow deep and almost choke on pride to often do the unlikely, the unsavoury and unsettling when required?

Who will sacrifice time with family, time with friends, time alone to recover, to relax or reflect? Who will give up those moments seen or experienced but once and never repeated?

Who will give up sleep, give up health, give up long held dreams and on occasion relationships both near and far? Who’ll stand there when the rains never make it all the way, or last just long enough to not do more harm than good? Who’ll endure each drought as though it were their last to be survived, knowing full well it is one of many, and one true constant of life on the land?

Who out there will go outback? Who will go past the end of the bitumen, long from the lights of town, into the powerline and internet black holes; amongst the timber and the dust, away from the many services often thought to be essentials of modern life? Who does that now and who will do it for years, decades and generations to come?

Who will do this because they have always done it? Not because it is all they know, but because it is what they know they were meant to do… Who will breed kids into a life where the challenges, the dangers and the risks are so very real and the pressures (at times) almost too much to imagine… let alone bare in truth.

This is no sob story nor tilt at self-indulgent pity for gratification… this is a reality check.

The rural industry is not all rolling hills of green dotted with fat cows off the “Dairy Farmers” milk ads and merino sheep with coats of fluffy white wool – just as it’s not all bulldozers and scrub puling chains. It’s not Wrangler Jeans, high top boots and large brim hats; nor is white jeans, striped shirts and days at the local wool and flower show. It’s not just images from poetry or motivation for a national identity, it’s just our heritage or our history on a great untamed land. It’s not big verandas, garden parties and kids born into privilege… that! Most of that… is bullshit!

For many, and on many occasions it’s snake bites and dust storms, it’s massive debts and interest rates or family arrangements that do more harm than good; it’s falls from horses and sun burn, it’s wind chill and wipe outs, it’s busted hands and broken bones, it’s heartbreak and depression from impacts of faraway markets or ill-informed political opinion. It’s mustering accidents in the air or on the ground where not everyone got to go home… It’s families that had to walk away when the load became too much or the guilt from loss of desire bit too hard. It’s tears, both yours and mine, and blood, both hot and cooled from an injury or a life lost.

Of course it’s not all doom and gloom, and of course there are endless happy stories and joyous moments to fill photo albums and memories alike. There are traditions passed on, practices continued and doorways walked through by generation after generation of the very same kin. But it’s not a given, it’s not guaranteed and for many the struggle is real. The good times are often hard won… long sought after and on many occasions left with the echoing question of if it was all worth it.

Each industry and each individual to their own I say and I salute one and all for efforts made no matter what you do… so please don’t pity the bush or the folks that choose this life for them, but don’t take it or them for granted either. Think before you speak… think before you vote… think before you eat or pull on a jumper… and perhaps be happy to pay what food & fibre are really worth, not just what’s cheapest at the cash register.

These people, like this land and the broader industry can only take so much, and once lost… who will do it all then? 

Thanks for reading and for playing along, this is Black Rat’s back chat & you’re welcome. XO JM.


Categories James Blog | Tags: , , , , | Posted on May 1, 2018

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