Suzie - Farmer's daughter, farmer's wife, and farmer, Streaky Bay SA

My picture of the struggle in farmer mental health is:

The continual battle of staying mentally strong when the external elements that I have no control of (such as weather, grain/livestock prices, financial reporting obligations) could easily get me down. We have survived through all the ups and downs of farming in a marginal cropping area (but solid sheep farming area) and have many years’ experience in managing our farming business, but I think the hardest part for me is coping with the very little to no control to set our own price for our own commodities. Basically, we have to take what we can get. A quote by John F Kennedy: “The farmer is the only man in our economy who buys everything at retail, sells everything at wholesale, and pays the freight both ways.”

Some of the glimmer/joyful moments that reflect farmer mental health for me:

The things that have strengthened me over the years to be able to stay riding the farming roller coaster are: regardless of what happens externally - always taking full responsibility for my choices - for example: we chose to plant the crop this year knowing full well it may not rain, so we are choosing to take the risk. This gives a sense of control - even when drought comes, we must have back up plans for the worst case scenario and the foresight that it’s actually not “if” it’s “when” stressful events occur we will survive (both from a business perspective and mentally).

Also GRATITUDE! Consciously shifting my mindset to what I do have instead of focusing on the immediate stress that is occurring in my life - big picture thinking. And there is no doubt offering as much support to each other as possible help to strengthen us too - sometimes this is just by showing up and taking a genuine interest so we don’t feel like we are doing this all alone, we are in it together. Even though drafting sheep in the dust, heat and flies isn’t my favourite - it certainly does earn me some brownie points!

A little more about Suzie:

Sheep & Cereal farm at Piednippie near Streaky Bay (Western Eyre Peninsula SA). So happy to have been asked to be part of this project because I have worked in farming for 23 years and as a Mindset Coach for the last 10 - helping other farming men and women not just survive but thrive in an industry that is unique and challenging. I am about to release a book aimed at strengthening the individual so they can then ripple their strength and talents out to their family and community to create a positive impact in their region.


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