By Karen Simmons and Michael R. Williams, Longreach Leader Today
Another successful “Paddock Day” took place at Hereward Station on Monday, bringing producers together and fostering deeper connections to the community.
On Monday 10th October around 20 guests gathered in Hereward, 75km west of Longreach, to enjoy smoko and lunch together and to hear from guest speakers Desiree Jackson and Peter Whip.
Paddock Days are hosted by Longreach Baptist Church’s Outback Connect program and supported by Outback Futures and Carinity’s Collaborative Community Projects to strengthen social connections and promote the emotional and psychological well-being of people in rural communities.
Desiree Jackson is a livestock management consultant and said there is a need for these types of events as people have become more independent over the years.
“Once upon a time, people relied on and supported each other,” Ms. Jackson said.
“Especially in the dry season, the drought years that happen over such a long period of time are mentally exhausting.
“It’s about pulling together as a community and not trying to do it alone.”
Ms. Jackson’s role is to help growers manage the feeding of their livestock.
“The idea of the days is to try to improve financial resilience and livestock resilience, but my role is to help with nutritional resilience – it’s a big part of drought years to manage livestock nutrition.”
This week’s Paddock Days theme focused on mental health and wellbeing, provided by Outback Futures
“When people come out of one drought, no one wants to think about the next,” Ms Jackson said.
“It’s a good time for people not to focus on the negative, but to look at what went well and what didn’t go well and what changes they could make to cope better.
“We certainly haven’t had a drought yet, but livestock prices are improving and the pressure is easing.
Guests were taken on a tour of Hereward pastures to observe forage quality, identify species and improve land conditions.
“One of the activities I did with the group was to think about how much feed sheep or cattle can eat each day, collect and weigh some and then think about what changes could be made to improve it .”
The Paddock Days team plans to host additional events in other Central West communities and on new properties.
“Guests get free technical information and real financial information that they can apply immediately.
Paddock Days began in August and aims to build relationships between farmers, with a focus on community-led care to support isolated people.
For the first three paddock days, church pastors traveled over 1,000km to hold events at properties in Winton, Aramac and Yaraka.