The Glass is Half Full

Host: Yougawalla Station
Written by: Jane Sale – Manager, Yougawalla Pastoral Company.

Agriculture is a “glass half full” industry. An industry of optimists. There is always at least one uncertainty to deter you taking a risk with your money, but for love of what we do, we put it all on the line anyway.

The weather is the most obvious gamble we have, which is why our friends in Queensland are suffering from the drought at the moment. This suffering is much worse for them financially than it would normally be because of another unpredictable element that effects our management, government decisions. Our industry has been affected so badly by that one snap government decision to put an immediate halt to the supply of cattle to our closest neighbours back in 2011 that even with good seasons here in the Kimberley we have struggled to find feed and water for our cattle meant for markets that have not been saleable since. This is the reason why Queensland properties in the drought areas have been hit extra hard. And why anyone involved in the industry have had a feeling of uncertainty and lack of support ever since.

However, on the last day of February, in Broome something pretty special happened. Farmers,  industry stakeholders and representatives travelled from all over Australia to attend The Northern Beef Forum. A different venue was organised as the number of attendants far overflowed what was first predicted. These industry get togethers are a great chance to catch up with friends that isolated lives keep us from, but in the last few years have usually been necessary to sort out industry problems so not very motivating.

IMG_1130Northern Beef Forum Ministers Cooperating for the good of the Live Export Industry.  

This time there was a feeling of confidence for our future both short term and long term. The meeting was attended by many industry leaders. Indonesian government and business representatives and an unprecedented attendance by minsters for the industry from right across the North of Australia, federal Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce and state agriculture ministers Ken Baston (WA), Willem Westra Van Holthe (NT), and John McVeigh (Qld). These ministers expressed their commitment to work together to support our industry. The gathering gave the producers and industry stakeholders a direct line to decision makers and the feeling Haydn and I had from these meetings was relief.

Barnaby Joyce made a statement using an earlier speakers’ analogy, referring to the way the industry had been treated in the past and how he intends moving forward, “we have to always be on the front foot and say no matter what you have, if you find something on the road where something is wrong you deal with that issue, you don’t close down the highway, and that has been my approach to this industry and what I intend to do.”

We feel like the industry representatives have our back and we can concentrate on doing what we do. This does not mean we will bury our heads in work and become complacent, this means we will keep working hard to manage our cattle and our land. We will keep talking to and pushing our government and industry representatives to invest and research in the industry and its markets. We will market our cattle to those who do the best job of looking after them using transparent systems so we know they are being treated to the best standards. We will keep telling our story and hopefully help people not involved understand what it is we do . . .

The strengthening of the cattle Live Export trade with record cattle export numbers predicted this year due to rising demand in Indonesia and other new countries such as Vietnam and China means we are beginning the year with a positive vibe and that resonated through the crowd in Broome last week.

Yougawalla & Bohemia Kids making the most of the WetBohemia and Yougawalla kids making the most of the water while its running.

Tamara teaching the kids to fishTamara teaching the kids to Fish.

Cooking the PerchCooking the Perch.

Tamara with SmokoTamara at Smoko Time.

Lots of fun has been had and it’s time for us to get on with the year ahead. We have our crew arriving this coming week and it’s always exciting to meet our new crew and welcome our old friends home. We have some exciting additions too. The kids have a very sweet new friend travelling in April. Beau, Gus and Tilly’s new Welsh pony we met in Capel, WA and it was love at first sight. Especially since he shares his name with my first pony, there was a bit of nostalgia involved in that decision.


I have had my day with two wheeler motorbikes and would go down as the most uncoordinated rider in history. Many a day I have been spent mustering and face-planting. By the end of the day trying to move slowly behind the mob in sand is hard work for someone getting on in years. Last fall I had left a sand angel behind on the ground and I finished the muster running behind and was much happier for it.

So I decided I need a significant vehicle that I can take off track on these long days when it is too far for a horse, a vehicle which I can use in the scrub when I need to pull up a runaway from the mob, but can also putt along behind at a steady pace without stalling.

So Lochie from Lochon Contracting is converting an old short wheel base Landcruiser to make me up a bull buggy. The only issue we have had in the past with buggies is staff, male especially, jumping in and driving them too hard and wrecking them. So how do I deter young males from going near it?

Paint it Pink - Proper Barbie PinkPaint it pink of course – a proper Barbie pink!

I will post a completed shot on the Facebook page when “Pink Lady” (yes I am a “Grease” fan) arrives at Yougawalla and has all her bar work complete. Lochie has even left the back seats in for me to pop the kid’s booster seats in and spend a day out with Mum. Haydn shoudn’t have too much trouble spotting us from the air either.

So we are all well rested, our holding paddocks, our cattle, our staff, and family. I know the paddock I have been in over the wet has expanded my waistline just like our cattle, so it won’t hurt me to do some days running around in the yards or hopping back on my horses. It’s going to hurt physically, yet, I have confidence that it won’t be too tough emotionally this year. But hey, I am in agriculture and a “glass half full” type of girl!

Afternoon outing to check waters by helicopter.