Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Is Our Purpose Real...Or Just A Figment Of Our Imagination??

So we do have a greater purpose right....?

There is a higher meaning to what we are about - what we are desperately hoping to achieve. YES. But to my core, there remains a fragility that is neither logical, or rational.

The brain will attempt to function, and at every turn, every obstacle...be overridden by fear and emotion. Thankfully in my case today, that power subsides quickly...in a matter of only minutes or hours.  Three very short years ago, in the depths of clinical depression, I would be frozen by such fear, and so overwhelmed by emotion - that my dysfunctional state could last for weeks...or even months!!

To this day, and through my incredibly loyal following - the tools that helped me shake the BLACK DOG, can be viewed in the public forum of FaceBook...on almost a daily basis. The greatest lesson learned, was the ability to embrace the enemy...before letting go. Many have shared similar experiences, and some have thanked me for sharing this advice, personally experiencing great results from this technique. 

You must understand, previously, through my formative years, teen years, in fact all the way through to 40 years of age - my concept of dealing with something was to try and push it away...and so this constant battle was 'feeding' it, while draining me. Eventually the level of attention had etched the enemy into the brain - like scars from a physical injury. Just like a classic movie, the footage was played internally, on an endless loop. Of course the ongoing effects were obvious to all - creating a storm of emotion, followed by the worst fog haze you will ever imagine.

"Harden up...take a spoonful of cement powder!", the well-wishers will only be too happy to offer such advice. I would suggest that to be about as effective as saying, "Put a band-aid on the leg, to stop the bleeding - where the TIBIA is sticking out through the skin!".

To be honest, my diagnosis, and the subsequent recovery from depression has been the most enlightening life experience I've ever encountered - and is quite literally the catalyst to all that is happening in my life today. When I say I believe all things happen for a reason, that is genuine. While I would never wish the depths of depression, and the despair and hopelessness that goes with - upon anyone...it all makes sense to me now. 

This has been the most critical, formative, and enjoyable part of my life so far. I was simply not equipped to cope with the challenges I now face on a daily basis. My perception is greatly heightened, and an ability to think on the fly continues to astound even myself. Unfortunately, what has come with that has been an increased level of impatience.

My new found purpose? To educate and re-connect city and country people. My message has become increasingly animated in recent times, as I have heard many happenings within the dairy industry...that have shaken even me! The urgency of my message has been accelerated, as we are fast running out of time. Personal decisions must be made NOW, to change our spending habits, to support local business and farms, to work together for a beneficial net outcome.

I stir the pot...I antagonise...I polarise !! But with due respect - I always LISTEN first. My intentions are at times so poorly interpreted by some followers - that they instantly spew venomous remarks straight back at me...and promptly UNLIKE my page - some even stop buying 4REAL MILK. 

Let's play devil's advocate...these people, so disgusted with my lack of sensibility and professionalism - to the point of boycotting everything "FARMER GREGIE" on principle...do maybe some of them drink ICEBREAK? Possibly have a can of COKE a little too often? Pop a can of PRINGLES...or a packet of PEANUT M&M's? I wonder how their personal relationship is going with Craig Garvin, Warwick White, John Bryant and Bill Duncan?

What the?? Well they are the respective company CEO's (so the google search tells me...happy to be corrected due to my lack of research) - so it must make logical sense that my EX followers have formed close personal relationships with all of their food sources? Seriously...I'm not joking! It makes sense right?

OK...joking :) Get a grip people! I've been accused of whingeing and being especially rude or mean-hearted by some. If only they opened their mind to the message, and it's importance. Anytime you see me re-post a message, my intention is not to shame these people - it's their message posted in a public forum...they posted it. The objective is however to analyse their sentiment, and explain just how flawed, unrealistic or unreasonable it is. I feel compelled to offer an alternative view, as a means to an end - education. 

You must understand, that in the past 18 months of running tours on our family farm, hosting thousands of visitors - I've yet to experience the vitriol of some online followers. Our guests are always very receptive of my message, polite in their questions, and without exception...applaud loudly when leaving.

So yes, there is method in my madness...and it works for me. People genuinely fascinate me. Some will continue to make judgement calls and decisions based on hear-say and propaganda. Sadly, a very small number will hide behind their profile pic...or avatar - saying and doing things they would never do, "face to face". Farmer Gregie will remain methodical and analytical...as he dissects the human brain, and its relentless thought processes.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

So Where To For The Bobby Calf ??

It has been a hot topic for farmers to contend with in recent years. Unfortunately there is great confusion caused by 'half truths' and mis-information pedalled by minority groups. Please read on to understand the very real challenges that we as farmers face on a daily basis.

Every decision made at farm level must be based on the impending financial outcome. If we as farmers take actions that will knowingly 'LOSE' money - or are forced by external regulations or lobby groups to do so, the viability of the farm itself is jeopardised. I can tell you from first hand experience, that as farmers scramble...or even fail to stay afloat - one of the first things to suffer is animal health and wellbeing.

It's all very well to point out the problem - and lay blame for its existence. The reality is...we already know the problem. Minority groups with their 'shock' tactics offer no genuine solution.

At the moment one such group is offering the following 'solutions'...
1. buy a stuffed bobby calf to show you support (and fund their business no doubt)
2. vote with your $$ and boycott all dairy products (and help inflict greater hardship onto the farms...where bobby calves will continue to be born)

They state, and I paraphrase, "If the treatment of bobby calves is to improve, it is imperative that the industry becomes accountable and for the public to exercise their consumer power."

Sadly for the bobby calf - the consumer is exercising their power on a daily basis. Through their buying habits, they have in fact sealed the fate of the bobby calf, as an unwanted by-product of the Dairy Industry.

It's a very honourable thing - to want to make a difference - to make a positive and lasting change. But it is much more important, and proactive to do enough research, to be armed with the knowledge and tools, to effectively do so.

While such lobby groups continue to complain loudly about the injustice of reality...farmers are left to cope with the situation at ground level. The very good news is that many farmers make the effort to do what is right. Although the consumer has chosen not to prolong the life of the bobby calf - the farmer will do their best to offer comfort and prevent illness during the 'unwanted' bull calves' short life.

Yes - here at the Dennis family farm, we feed our bull calves on the bottle beyond their day of birth...ensuring that they neither have too much or too little milk. This is critical to their good health, as they are extremely vulnerable - facing life threatening complications during that first (and often only) week of life. After feeding them one last time at about 7 days of age, we then load them onto our own ute - personally responsible for their safe delivery to our local abattoir, only 20 minutes from home. We do aim to minimise stress or suffering experienced by our bull calves at every opportunity.

I like to think personally, that we as farmers, are more about practical solutions. Transparency is important - as the message surrounding our actions is conveyed. So unless the 'activists' have a lasting victory...in their endeavour for you - the consumer - to stop consuming all dairy products immediately, or better still - become vegans...we - the humble dairy farmer, will continue to deal with what is very real, each and every day.

Sad but true - the bobby calf remains...the unwanted by-product of 'consumer demand'.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Scenic Rim 4Real Milk

As we are brought into the world, we all start equal...at zero. With no life experience, no preconceived ideas, no judgement to pass, or standards to follow. So the process begins, as we are molded by those closest to us, and the environment surrounding us. Our personality develops, our confidence grows, our morals and ethics are instilled, remembered and later acted upon - as if almost by reflex.

With such diversity in our own great country, Australia.... of cultures - nationalities - religions - political beliefs, and the wide and varied combination of blends within and across these differences - there's little wonder we as a society don't always agree on everything.  This is very healthy by the way, as it creates the intricate fabric with which our communities are woven. It is as beautiful as it is fascinating!

It is in fact my fascination with people, and my desire to 'save the world', that I find myself drawn to the current phase of my life. With the fast pace of our lives today - so much to do...so little time, that many are neglecting some of life's most critical aspects. As a collective, we're becoming a more and more disposable society. Our desire for financial success, to buy the 'toys' we don't need. Our 'entitlement' mentality is creating complacency, our apathy continues to cause instability. Our lack of time and effort to properly nourish our bodies and stimulate our minds. Our reliance for science and medicine to prolong our lives, artificially.

This lack of balance is now negatively impacting on many aspects of life - but most particularly health. The 'obesity epidemic' spirals out of control, Type 2 Diabetes is now afflicting people in their 20's and 30's, Cardiovascular Disease is growing exponentially and food allergies are on the rise. The severity and number of attacks and subsequent injuries stemming from drug and alcohol use, or those suffering from mental health is an endless stream.

During my own recovery, from a diagnosis of Clinical Depression only 3 years ago, I felt compelled to undertake a 'post-mortem' on my own life, to that point in time - January 2010. My life as I knew it was over...though fortunately not in the literal sense, as I had enlisted the necessary help prior to becoming suicidal. Beyond the 'fog haze', fatigue and nausea that filled my days, I became committed...even obsessed to do whatever it took - to once again feel well.

In years to come, I will possibly look back at those first 6 months of 2010, as the most influential of my life. I already acknowledge quite openly today, that Depression was the best thing that has ever happened to me. Sadly - I'm aware that it does not end so well for many sufferers and their families. But personally, it was that period of analysis, the endless questioning, the search and ultimate discovery of purpose, that found me 'reborn'...as Farmer Gregie!!

I 'see' things. Always have. My ideas are often, well, out there! During my quest to find that absolute purpose, and comprehend the role I must play, I began to see with a clarity I'd not previously experienced. The ideas were not new, but the conviction of belief and the confidence to implement these ideas was quite foreign to me. It has however resulted in some challenging times for other members involved in our family business. Despite my ability to justify all recent projects on farm - they have effectively been 'Executive Decisions', by yours truly. I have carried the burden of scepticizm and uncertainty, keeping the faith that our business will eventually be rewarded.

We are genuinely reaching a critical time in history - that only the future will judge. Here in Australia, we are on the verge of becoming a 'net importer' of food. How is this even possible - with such a small population base in proportion to our fertile agricultural land? The triggers that have always assisted stability in the market-place are no longer working. 'Supply and Demand' has in the past been the driving force in maintaining the necessary equilibrium...whether that be here in Australia - with our domestic market, or Internationally - with exports.

It would appear to me, as a naive country boy, that our supply chain has become as dysfunctional as the legislation that protects it. What we do know for a fact, in my little corner of the world - South East Queensland, is that there is currently a supply shortage of MILK (as of today...not next year), for which your local Dairy Farmers are being rewarded at...below the cost of production.

I much prefer to stick to what I am aware of - so I won't digress into the many other food industries being crippled. But surely there is no problem for the consumer - you are still getting fresh milk every day? The truth is, your fresh milk is being trucked over longer and longer distances up and down the east coast of Australia, to fill the shortfall SEQ is currently experiencing. Particularly disturbing is the reality of this situation - there's every chance that a dairy farmer within an hours drive of your house...is bleeding money every single morning he or she gets out of bed. The situation is not likely to abate (having lost over 10% of Qld's dairy farmers since Australia Day, 2011) as forecasts indicate we may lose almost as many again, in the next 12 months.

You must also understand, that milk is a perishable item. It is a living organism, with a limited shelf life. We can only extend that shelf life, by rendering milk itself completely devoid of life - ah yes...UHT milk! But even if we avoid going to the extreme of Ultra Heat Treating our milk, we are losing precious days in transit...in and out of cold storage, before your 'fresh' milk arrives. There is a fast growing movement of people who believe strongly in getting back to local, fresh, minimally processed foods.

It is absolutely critical - that the general public are aware of the wider ramifications of their buying habits today. To maintain a high level of stability in our local fresh food supply, producers must be rewarded 'fairly' for their product. Without financial viability...more and more of our food will be produced offshore, beyond the controls of Australia's very strict health regulations.

So yes - today I am driven by this desire for the truth to be known, and the knowledge to be shared. Through the recently formed tourism arm of our business - 'Farmer Gregie' is able to share the fragility of the dairy farmers' situation, with the many 1,000's of visitors we have the pleasure of hosting on farm. Scenic Rim Robotic Dairy is also becoming increasingly involved with Schools and Education - our core target audience is intentionally domestic, not international.

This gives us the perfect opportunity explain the potential benefit, of the harmonious co-existence of consumer and farmer, of city and country. As a vocal advocate of the health benefits to you, the consumer, of locally produced fresh food, we are absolutely thrilled with what is about to unfold. A product launch is scheduled for May 2013 - at which point Scenic Rim Robotic Dairy will become the home of SCENIC RIM 4REAL MILK !!

The Dennis family will literally be in control of the entire process of milk production...from the feeding and milking of our Holstein cows one day, to the bottling of milk on site the next, to transporting directly to your local shop....