Three Minute Squiz With… Pamela Lawson

Pamela Lawson (or Bundle as she’s known by everyone…) is a modern day farmer. With her husband Pete and their three tin lids, she spends a good part of the week working on their properties and some time in Wagga, NSW working earning some off-farm income. They’re a couple of the best farmers going around – but the drought has put paid to their efforts in the last couple of years. So please welcome and do a rain dance for Bundle as she takes on this week’s Three Minute Squiz. 

How and where do you Squiz? 
Whenever I can! Typically mid-morning when I’ve done the first wave of making lunches, school bus run, feeding animals etc etc. If I go into town I can Squiz on my phone but our mobile coverage in the house is dodgy at best, so I fire up the computer, grab a cup of coffee and get educated!

Geez it’s dry… So first things first – the drought must be a huge mental challenge. Are your holding up ok?
We are holding up OK, largely thanks to very supportive friends and family who we can discuss plans with, bounce ideas off and who know what we are going through as they are in it too. Mental health awareness is so much better than it was even during the millennium drought. Farmers have generally got much better at keeping an eye on each other and seeking help and support if needed, even if that means just having a rant on Facebook!

Us city slickers have heard it’s a bad drought. What does it actually mean for you?
The hardest part is really just the great unknown… It will rain again but when? It becomes a huge juggling act trying to feed and water our remaining breeding stock whilst maintaining groundcover in our paddocks so the soil does not get washed or blown away and pasture will grow again when it does finally rain. There is the constant worry of deciding whether to buy in feed or sell more livestock. Each decision has significant financial ramifications, now and in the future.

You and Pete have three kids. How are they coping and what do you think they’ll remember about this drought?
The kids are definitely aware of the severity of this drought, especially the long, hot summer we’ve just endured. They will certainly remember sweltering through a January where I think the average daytime temperature was 40 degrees and it got to 45 multiple times… lucky we still had a dam to swim in!! They have been a great help though and remain incredibly positive, noticing any signs of impending rain with great excitement!

What do you talk about with your neighbours when you catch up? 
We tend to talk ‘shop’ and things related to the drought as it is so much part of our lives at the moment. But it is usually pretty positive stuff, with lots of discussions and advice (whether asked for or not) about things that might make life during the drought a little easier. There is often a healthy amount of local gossip thrown in too!

If there was one thing you want people to know about farming and/or farmers, what would it be?
It would be how incredibly resilient, innovative and passionate farmers are. Despite the constant gamble that is agriculture, farmers take enormous pride in producing clean, healthy food and fibre in a sustainable way.

Name four people – living or dead – you’d kill to sit down to dinner with. 
Sir David Attenborough, Roger Federer, Sir Elton John and my 104-year old Great Aunt.

Give us one recipe of something that’s on the menu.
I’d love to say something healthy and sophisticated… BUT I have a chocolate brownie recipe that is VERY simple, looks atrocious but ALWAYS tastes great. The kids can now make it for me without the recipe and it is perfect when you are asked to ‘bring a plate’ and it is expected there will be something on it!

Your favourite book/writer? 
James Herriot of All Creatures Great and Small* fame….I might have been a vet in another life.

First album?
Well… it was a cassette of course. Possibly the Beach Boys Greatest Hits? Or 1985 Let’s Go?

What skill or talent do you not have but wish you did?
To be able to sing… That’s despite years of trying and thinking I was great at karaoke!!

The best piece of advice your mother/father gave you?
How little effort it takes to be courteous to people. You never know who they might know or when you might need them!

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Patience. Life’s too short to muck around.

What’s your worst and best habit?
I’m impatient! And I use too many exclamation marks! But I’ll give anything a go.

What would you say is the most currently overlooked news story Australians should know about but don’t?
I think the long-term effect of the flooding in north-west Queensland will quickly be forgotten without ongoing publicity. It is hard to comprehend what those people have been through and how they will recover from devastating stock and infrastructure losses.

*If you buy this book using this link, The Squiz will get a little commission.

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