Introducing Kylie Stretton from Charters Towers via Burdekin Dam in NQ. Kylie’s powerful story is number 24 in our series of 52 Farming stories celebrating the Australian Year of the Farmer.
Over to you Kylie…
I grew up on a cattle station on the Burdekin Dam in NQ, which ran 6000 head of cattle. It was mostly family run with one stockman most of the time. I did my schooling through Charters Towers School of Distance Education and then went to boarding school for secondary school. After I left school I went to the Northern Territory to be a governess on Gallipoli, an outstation of Alexandria, where I met my husband Shane, who was a stockman there.
We moved around a bit, finally settling back in Charters Towers four years ago with our children Ella-Beth (8) and Clancy (6). Shane is a livestock agent, he works in conjunction with a large company as a contract agent, so essentially we run our own business. We also are running a growing herd of beef cattle (120hd) which we have on agistment. They are mixed breed but mostly brahman. They are trade steers, we’re not properly set up for cows and calves, steers are much easier!
I work relief at the local Kindy and love spending time with the kids there. I take the opportunity to talk to them about farming, which of course they love. I also do the books for our business (well attempt to, bookwork is definitely not my strong point!). My main passion (after my family) is being an advocate for farming especially the northern beef industry. I spend lots of time on Facebook and Twitter trying to reach a broader audience and am co-founder of the Facebook Page Ask An Aussie Farmer.
I don’t have a favourite part of being a farmer, I love it all! It’s certainly not easy (as you can see from MY STORY), but it’s a part of my history and it’s shaped who I am. I love the peace and quiet, I love being able to have so many animals. I love that my kids at such a young age can tell me different types of native trees, birds etc. I am also grateful for the opportunities it provides for my children. They are 8th generation in the agricultural industry which they are very proud of. Ella-Beth and Clancy are already little agvocates taking photos and stories to school and teaching their friends (and teachers!) about food production.
The biggest challenge I feel the northern beef industry is facing is lack of understanding from politicians and the general public about our history, our future and the way we operate today. It’s both a short term challenge (the Live Export Debate) which in turn develops into a long term challenge due to uncertain markets and lack of support from the government and public.
One thing I’d love people to hear is a great quote by Troy Hadrick, Advocate for Agriculture in USA: “Google never grew anything”. Google is a great tool when used correctly but it’s not the be all and end all. If you want to know something about farming, you also need to get it “straight from the horse’s mouth”. Which is why we developed Ask An Aussie Farmer. We are hoping to spread a balanced view of Australian food and fibre production, to help educate and protect our future generations.