Sandra Lording on the Mansfield Farm Project

Showcasing the talents of local photographer Sandra Lording which captures the behind scenes of a large working farm in the beautiful area I call home.

Brightside Story Studio

Sandra Lording’s Mansfield Farm Project Photography Exhibition tells the Manning family’s story through images of farming activities, landscapes and people. I spoke to Sandra about the inspiration for the project, how it played out and what she learnt.

The exhibition will be held at St Mary’s Hall, 48 Hunter Street, Mansfield on April 3-7, 2021.

What inspired the Mansfield Farm Project?

When I moved to Mansfield, Victoria, in 2017 (see Sandra Lording, Mansfield Photographer), I had little understanding about farming. Overnight, cattle or sheep appeared in previously empty paddocks, crops sprung from the ground, and the landscape was ever-changing colours. The Mansfield Farm Project was born out of a desire to educate myself about farming and to capture images to inform a wider audience.

I asked for expressions of interest and selected the cattle farm Davilak.

Barawatha Auctions “Barawatha Auctions” January 2020 by Sandra Lee Photography

Can you tell me a…

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Staying home like never before

“Home is where love resides, memories are created, friends and family and laughter never ends.”

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How many of us thought that 2021 would be different to the previous year which was so consumed with the impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic? Here in my home state of Victoria we are currently in a snap five-day hard lockdown with Level 4 restrictions because of issues with the emergence of the UK strain believed to have come from someone in quarantine. After several weeks of doughnut days as per my previous posts we are once again confined to barracks even in regional areas where we have no cases. It came as a shock to many businesses in my rural community and many events were cancelled.

Thankfully, two hours before the announcement, I had stocked up on essentials including toilet paper. Sadly, supermarkets had to implement limits on certain items again because of panic buying. The authorities seem to have the cases under control now but with one more day to go, one can never be sure with such an infectious virus. On the eve of the lockdown, we joined good friends and neighbours for dinner and drinks. If COVID has taught us anything it is better to accept invitations when you can!

My home has certainly become my castle during COVID. I am fortunate to share it with my husband who has plenty to do keeping 25 acres under control and my much indulged cat Rambo. We are surrounded by hills and trees which attract a wide range of native birds and animals such as wombats and kangaroos. There is also plenty of black Angus cattle in our neighbouring paddocks and cows are just starting to calve.

No pandemic will ever be long enough for me to get through all the books on my shelves that are waiting to be read or to complete those craft projects started with good intentions.

I am hoping that as news breaks this week of a vaccination rollout in Australia and overseas, that while life may still be governed by COVID to a certain extent there will be a return to normal activities. That may mean sharing my home with a wider group of family and friends. May your home always be your castle not a prison.

Doughnut economics the way forward

Photo by Ekaterina Bolovtsova on Pexels.com

My previous post espoused the virtues of the doughnut as a way to describe a run of COVID-free days in my home state of Victoria. Unfortunately within 30 minutes of publishing my post that situation had changed because of cases linked to NSW’s community outbreak. Thankfully, we have returned to doughnut days again in Victoria with a run of seven no new community transmissions of the virus. I was reminded over a week ago of another aspect to this popular holey snack because of an article by an economics journalist. The hole truths of the revolutionary Doughnut Economics (thenewdaily.com.au)

It is also almost a year ago since I graduated with BA in Community Development and Sustainable Development. The article was a good reminder to me about a better way of doing business that I learned from my studies. The COVID Pandemic has exposed the flaws in our over-reliance on mass consumerism. Some are still raking in the wealth while others are struggling financially, physically and emotionally to survive these “unprecedented” times. A circular economy makes so much more sense than a linear approach. Check out the video below and see what you think. I am becoming a bigger fan of the humble doughnut!

Doughnut days in abundance!

The humble doughnut has come to represent hope in a time when it was thought the number of coronavirus cases would continue well into the new year here in Victoria following a second wave outbreak in early August. That sweet treat with the all important round hole signals 0 new cases, 0 days without any community transmitted outbreaks and 0 deaths. More than 60 days later we are enjoying triple 0 statistics mostly and a significant easing of restrictions by our government. It is a testament to so many who did follow the rules and were prepared to wear masks when out in public to fight this sneaky enemy.

This sweet treat has come to symbolise the number
of COVID-free days.
Photo by Tijana Drndarski on Pexels.com

While life has returned to some semblance of normality here in our rural retreat the shadow of COVID lingers in the way we interact with one another. I managed a trip across the NSW border two weeks ago before Christmas to visit my Mum for the first time since February.

Four days later I was applying on line for a permit to get back into my home state of Victoria from regional NSW. The second most populous city in Australia which had been COVID-free for some time recorded new community transmissions raising alarm for the state government and health officials. These relatively small number of cases compared to those occurring overseas are connected to clusters in the Northern Beaches area of Sydney and the Central Coast area. In the last 24 hours the number has doubled to 18 with a new cluster discovered. We know too well here in Victoria how quickly the virus spread during the second wave.

Our tourist town is overflowing with visitors this week – I tried to walked down a packed street yesterday. Eateries which are struggling to get enough staff for the busy times, were advising 45 minutes to one hour wait for food due to the sheer number of people and having to abide by COVID safe restrictions. After several months of lock down city people are holidaying closer to home but it is still difficult for many of us locals to adapt to the overwhelming busyness of our small town after almost a year.

The wearing of masks is only mandatory in certain cases but causes confusion for the out of towners. Our supermarkets and hard ware store require the wearing of masks but many shoppers seem to be ignoring this rule. I was told that staff cannot enforce the mask wearing rule. Our shopping centre might be small compared to the huge malls and centres in Melbourne, but our well being in regional Victoria matters too. With the NSW outbreak the coronavirus reminds us that it is not disappearing any time soon.

May we enter the New Year with a sense of gratitude for those good things in our lives and be willing to be kinder and more understanding of fellow humans who are doing it tough. The world needs a huge virtual hug! My other wish for 2021 is doughnut days in abundance across the globe.

PS. Would you believe it, only 30 minutes after I wrote this post, news came through that Victoria had recorded its first three community transmitted cases of COVID in 60 days. These new cases are linked to the Sydney infections. I guess this just reinforces what I was saying about COVID still hanging over all of us. Take care out there.

Cat on the hospital payroll

I usually start my day with a cup of coffee in bed listening to Melbourne ABC radio with morning host Sammy J. As a comedian he provides some levity during a time when media is saturated with Coronavirus coverage. This morning he talked to the owner of Elwood the cat who has become a social media sensation because he spends his days across the road from his inner-suburban home on the steps of the Epworth Hospital. I did an internet search and discovered Elwood’s fame has spread far and wide. For those of us who know the power of cat therapy, this is a feel good story.

A purrfect feel good tale!

Spring chorus brings joy to the soul

While we are in this COVID bubble the arrival of spring brings a sense of a change and maybe a little bit of hope (Cases in Victoria have remained under 100 for the last three days!) One of the many things that makes me happy living in the beautiful high country is the sounds of nature that fill the air. The winter rains have our dams overflowing which attracts the frogs. I can lie in bed at night and hear them croaking loudly. It pays for them to be a bit quieter during the day when the rather large white-faced herons are about! This is a short video I filmed to capture the sounds of my own personal chorus. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Aussie frog chorus in the High Country

Spring is just around the corner…and hope springs eternal

Spring is just around the corner!

The blossoms are blooming, the birds are whistling merrily while others fight for nesting spaces and the sun helps to move the temperature from single digits to double figures. A nice change from the wintery blast. Speaking of numbers; here in the state of Victoria coronavirus infections have fallen to the lowest daily figure since July 5 with 73 new cases overnight. While that is good news, it is tempered with the latest death toll of 44. Most of these fatalities are connected to aged care facilities with half of them occurring in recent days and only just now being reported to the health department. In my rural area there was a report of one confirmed case overnight with no details provided. Today I also learned that a friend of mine in Melbourne and his family have contracted COVID-19 through his wife’s work as nurse. Thankfully, they are slowly recovering but as he says it is not a pleasant thing to get. Meanwhile we continue to live this in bubble designed to keep us safe and well.

During August I set myself the challenge of walking 100kms to raise money for the Fred Hollows Foundation to help restore sight to people who cannot afford the necessary operation. For as little as A$25 this operation can be performed and transform the lives of so many. Fred was a no nonsense get on with the job Aussie bloke. This eye surgeon has inspired others to continue his legacy. I have reached my fundraising target which will see 11 people have their sight restored. My little bit of good during a time of COVID. Follow the link below to learn more about this remarkable man and his work.

https://www.hollows.org/au/home

Despite a freezing cold weekend over a week ago, the payoff is the stunning views of snow-capped mountains and hills set against deep blue skies to enjoy during my walks this week. Makes me appreciate the gift of sight even more. There is a sense of the seasons turning and tomorrow September 1 bringing hope of better things.

Masking up Down Under

In my home amongst the gumtrees in Victoria’s High Country

The Kookaburras laugh from their lofty perches

At the sight of masked humans going about their business.

The state government has mandated face coverings for public forays.

I can make it to the farm gate without covering up my face

But as soon as I cross the cattle grid out comes my mask;

My defence against a world that is playing host to a virus

That has us locked down in a fight against an enemy that doesn’t bear arms.

In a small town where we are use to greeting one another as old friends;

We hog supermarket aisles; as we compare the price of sheep and cattle;

If we are fortunate we can also boast our latest rainfall readings;

Battered hats and well-worn boots can separate the townies from the farming folk;

But a second look is needed as we try to recognise each other wearing such strange attire.

Face coverings come in all shapes and sizes, some in colours and designs;

In a display of the wearer’s fashion sense and personality.

Forced to adopt this strange new ritual we hope to flatten that damn curve.

#

Another Aussie take on this COVID thing is a ballad by comedian Sammy J. Apologies to “Banjo” Paterson who penned the “Man from Snowy River”, a poem that inspired the movie made in the High Country where I live. The Bunnings reference is to a rather large chain of hardware stores popular with do DIY types and tradies. Also apologies to anyone called Karen who may be offended.