As a daughter of a dairy farmer growing up on the family farm in Maroon, South East Queensland, there were a few certainties in my life – the cows would be milked twice a day everyday and no matter what was going on at the time, everyone had to stop what they were doing and listen to the weather man on the nightly news.
When is it going to rain? Have we got time to get that last patch of lucerne mowed and baled before a storm potentially rolls in at the end of the week? Walks down the main street of Boonah with mum and only very occasionally dad meant lots of stopping to talk to others about the weather and if it was going to be kind or another tough season ahead.
Jump forward quite a few years now and I’m no longer at the farm, I’m recently married, living in Brisbane, enjoying working in the Horticulture industry and about to start a big adventure – following my husband Rob to Canberra as he embarks on a career in the Army. Well what an adventure this turned out to be with a posting up to Darwin in the NT – we ended up living there for four years before a posting back south meant we were back in Canberra. With two young children now along for the ride it was time to start fresh and see what we could make of these two years in Australia’s capital city. Quite a significant thing happened here – I stumbled across an employment opportunity with the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation. With a rural background and a father in law who had completed the Australian Rural Leadership Program back in the day (Course 4), it all seemed meant to be and while now working in an office in Canberra I was being drawn back in part closer to my rural beginnings.
Whilst 2020 saw a new posting and a family move back to south-east Queensland I have continued my role with the ARLF and now am in then enviable position of being able to drive an hour and forty minutes from my home in north Brisbane back to my family and their farm in Maroon on the weekends.
I can take my two children to enjoy doing the things I did growing up – building forts and playing in the hay shed, “helping” with the chores – feeding hay to cattle and milk to calves and having a ride down the creek on the motorbike. I can get back in the dairy and change a few sets of cups and then sit down with my Dad at the end of another milking and just enjoy that feeling of being with family at the end of another day on the farm, chatting about how many heifer calves have been born lately and you guessed it – what’s going to happen with the weather!
I am proud to say I am part of the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation team and look forward to the exciting things ahead as we continue to contribute to the future prosperity of rural and regional Australia. And while I’m in the office, chasing some receipts or following up on payments, I’m also looking out the window at the blue sky and you can guarantee part of my heart is back out at Burnett Creek and hoping for some much needed rain to fall in the right places. Yep, I’m still a country girl!
Stacey Pyke, ARLF Bookkeeper