It is common knowledge that behind every man, no matter how financially successful, there is more often than not, the support and driving force of an extremely capable woman.
I have always thought that farming wives and partners are an extraordinary breed of women and I had the great pleasure of meeting two such women recently; Norco milk suppliers, Ali Duckworth from the north coast Grafton area, and Nicole Nicholls from the far north coast Kyogle area. Ali and Nicole are both dairying wives who share the same passion, which is to help, support and empower as many Australian Dairy farming women as they can.
Ali grew up on the banks of the Clarence River in Grafton and when the time came, moved away to pursue her career working in the corporate arena, both in Australia and overseas. One might say she has gone full circle and is back in the Grafton area on the land with her husband Joe, her two children, five year old Talia and two year old Joshua and her beloved animals. Even though her grandparents had stopped dairying before Ali was born, some of her fondest memories are of her visits to the old dairy. It is safe to say that the life of a dairy farmer had already slipped into Ali’s heart.
Ali attributes her desire to help, care, support and motivate people to the inspirational women in her life; they are her grandmother, her mother and her elder sister. Over three generations these three women have endured their share of challenges and setbacks throughout their individual journey’s and sometimes at an enormous cost to health and well being; but they all emerged with an unwavering generosity of spirit with the determination to share it. Ali says “I come from a line of strong, working women so not pursuing a career, was never an option”. One thing for sure she has the skills to pass on all the positivity that she received as a child to her own children.
Nicole grew up in South Australia on a Beef cattle property and after traveling, married into a dairy family. Nicole says “marrying into and working in the family business overtime gave me a first-hand view of the workings of a dairy family farming business”
Nicole farms with her husband (Murray) and daughters (Catherine and Heidi) at Rukenvale, 20km north of Kyogle. They milk about 200 cows, crop approx 200 acres of corn and soya beans in summer and triticale and rye in winter to harvest for silage as well as run a small beef herd.
The thread that binds these two passionate women together is the desire to connect, educate, support, inspire and encourage dairy women to be the best they wish to be in whatever they choose to achieve. Both Ali and Nicole have made it possible to share their own experiences by supplying a platform where women can feel comfortable and confident to share and communicate with other women in similar situations. The platform is a non profit group called ‘Women in Dairy Australia’. www.WIDA.info Their motto is to laugh lots, make some great new friends and most importantly, to make a difference in the industry that they both love.
Women have been juggling home, children and career for many years, and in this day and age where the pace of life is getting faster instead of slower, it is no secret that in a single day farming women cover the roles of mother, wife, career, farm hand, vet, nurse, bookkeeper, chef, housekeeper, taxi driver; are you exhausted yet because the list goes on; ‘WIDA’ endeavours to link as many of these amazing women together as possible
I was invited to sit in on the inaugural meeting of the WIDA at Casino in February and was really pleased to see women of all ages, sharing the same goal which is to encourage and support each other. Everyone has something to offer but sometimes a little reminder is needed, which is what ‘WIDA’ is all about.
I heard of the challenges felt by new dairy wives and partners and the isolation that can be experienced; it is a life that people who are not on the land have no conception of. Women bring many skills to farming which no doubt are appreciated by husbands and partners, but because women are busy ensuring that everyone and everything is ok before attending to, or even acknowledging their own needs they sometimes lose sight of who they are. I came away feeling that Ali and Nicole have made it possible for these women to appreciate themselves, have a laugh, take a breath and enjoy each day by knowing that they are not alone.
As Ali says “I hope that as more and more people recognise the role and importance of rural Australia, small family farms like ours will start to increase rather than decline.”
I couldn’t help thinking about our pioneer farming women who were most definitely isolated and on their own, working alongside their husbands as they raised the next generation of farmers. Although the farming women of today have many challenges and pressures in their lives, they have the distinct advantage of never being too far from a friend which is made possible by today’s technology with so many lines of communication accessible.
The group plans to meet every two months; I encourage you to jump online and join www.WIDA.info or by calling Ali on 0448 854 554 or Nicole on 0427 364 155.
Meet some new friends, have some laughs, feel empowered and make a difference.
Both Ali and Nicole would like to thank their husbands Joe and Murray for the encouragement and support that they offer for WIDA