by Karen Weller, Winton New South Wales
What devastation we have experienced statewide in this current drought! It is hard to even comprehend how widespread this particular drought has been to primary producers this year. It is tiring us out physically and wearing us down mentally. Some rain may have given us a slight breather, but it is far from over. My story is a true example of something positive emerging from this drought. It is hard to be optimistic, but I am living proof that through my emotional journey, depression and health concerns, I finally discovered my real purpose in life. My new blog “Country Heart Spark” is telling the real story, with raw emotion and bringing a valuable agricultural connection to all.
My name is Karen Weller and I have a unique passion to promote and sustain the agricultural industry in Australia and unite city and country. I value the significance of our industry to feed and clothe our nation into the future. The connection in our community is paramount for survival of the industry.
I also have an inner enthusiasm to inspire others to find their own inner strength through openly and honestly sharing my stories on the land. I hope to not only guide my own personal growth, but encourage and motivate others to find their own contentment in the process.
I have been involved in the farming industry all of my life. I grew up on a small property on the Mid North Coast with my parents and siblings. I then married a farmer, which kept me in the industry, allowing my passion to develop further and somewhat vary. My husband and I have owned farming properties in the New England and Central West regions, before settling on a 2803 acre farm 30km west of Tamworth about 2 years ago. We run beef cattle and sheep and also produce stud Hereford bulls.
I am shy but friendly and value the importance of inner harmony. My strong family values and strong work ethic is at the forefront of my mind and my self-motivation drives me daily. I am devoted to my husband Peter and married for 24 years. We have 2 wonderful adult sons, Andrew and Glen, independently living their own lives. But I valued my time spent raising our children to adulthood, a job I was whole-heartedly committed to. I was determined to raise great men. So when they were toddlers I decided to study Child Psychology, which gave me an inside seat to the workings within. I loved being a Mum with dependent children and I cherished this very important role. Now they have grown-up and my job is “complete”.
This is when the emotional turmoil started. I was not satisfied with just the business of farming, so was feeling overwhelmed and “lost” with trying to discover my new purpose in life as well. Health concerns arose for me, so I was stressed to my limit. With the help of my GP and specialists, they discovered that I had sleep apnea which was a root cause of my other ongoing health problems. I then started CPAP therapy to keep me breathing while sleeping, and it was quite an adjustment and confronting, in my forties, to have to deal with this.
We were then in drought, feeling physically exhausted, financially strained and emotionally I fell in a heap. My life role had changed, suffering from “empty-nest syndrome” and farming was not entirely meeting my bigger need in life. The drought just tipped me over the edge. It was then that I found enough courage to visit my GP to discuss the topic that nobody wants to admit… that depression was at my door.
I felt terrible and unable to cope, embarrassed, yet I knew that I needed to be open with my family about my depression/anxiety. I had to set an example to my sons, that it is OK to talk about depression, it is not a taboo subject. We need to lose the stigma attached to depression. It is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign that we have been too strong for too long. My GP put me on medication for depression/anxiety and sent me for a few visits to a psychologist. I would not talk of this to anyone, except my family. I wanted to hide it… but why?
Now I can say, it has worked for me. I am still on medication but feeling so much better, more focused and able to deal with the struggles on-farm. I have changed my outlook, have shifted my mindset successfully and feeling almost at the top of my game. I am a little philosophical and believe things happen for a reason. Depression needed to hit me, so I can now share my story to help others. Now, I am not afraid to admit that I had depression/anxiety and are still being treated as such. I am not weak and I have nothing to be ashamed of.
So my life started to get back on track, with the help of my GP, specialists and my own commitment to improve my health. With CPAP therapy, I quickly realized how this little machine then became my “night partner” and the health benefits started. My blood pressure came back to normal immediately, then slowly other things happened over time. I had more energy, my muscles stopped aching and I could think clearer. My brain and body were now getting the oxygen it needed. This avoided any medication for high blood pressure which was a bonus.
I enjoy the quiet lifestyle that farming provides and value the hard-work on-farm. Unfortunately, the drought has stretched our resilience quite a bit this year. This drought is different to other droughts experienced over the years. It is so widespread, that agistment of livestock is not even an option this year. Livestock numbers have been reduced to only our core breeding stock. We needed to ensure we could save 25 years of breeding genetics in our stud herd. We only have about 260 head of cattle remaining on our property.
Hay and fodder needs to be transported from quite a distance interstate and prices have become exuberant. To give you an example, a load of hay was costing us about $13,000 and now with the price-war about $24,000. Farm loans have been increased and massive interest is being paid. Let’s just hope the drought breaks before we do.
My background is in Agribusiness Management, financial and office management. I see farming as my business but not my sole purpose in life. Now my children have grown up, it is time for me to reconnect with my purpose and share my passion with the world. I have discovered my passion for writing and sharing my stories to connect with others.
My recent blog and web page “Country Heart Spark” has been my voice to promote the importance of the agricultural industry and help people find their own inner strength to survive in this world generally. I provide inspiration and share my personal stories, from my family, farm life, a husband surviving a Quad-bike accident and breaking his back, to my support of the Country Women’s Association (CWA) at all levels.
My blog also provides me a platform to relieve some everyday stress and it brings me a sense of calmness and contentment. By sharing my emotional thoughts and stories, with the intention of connecting with others, I hope to inspire a journey of personal growth for all. I also have a vision for the near future to write my first book on self-awareness and acceptance of self. My passion has been sparked and this will be my new purpose.
I also feel strongly that Australian’s care about our domestic food chain and sustaining the farming industry. So by educating and understanding, I hope to connect all people regardless of whether they live in the city or country. Our jobs may all differ, our lives may be very different, but we are all human and empathy is our second nature.
I would like to invite you to follow my blog at countryheartspark.com and share my life journey and inspiration. You will feel inspired to believe in yourself, find happiness within, accept our differences and understand that we are all in this together.