What a week! Last Saturday afternoon I was looking forward to being in Canberra this week playing golf with forty equally golf mad women and having a bit of time away from the daily grind. I packed my bags, transferred the golf clubs into the travel golf bag (it’s skinny and has wheels), did the grocery shopping and embarked on a few outside chores to alleviate the ‘having fun in harvest’ guilt. (My husband works long hours outdoors, 7 days a week at a grain receival depot during harvest).

And then fate intervened. The electrics on our ride on mower failed yet again. Time and patience saw me admit defeat for now, unhook the ‘tiny tuff tipper’ trailer and pushed the mower back to its shed. Then it was the trailers turn to be dragged to the shed but for some reason I dropped it. On my foot! Ouch!

The foot blew up and was still up when the bus to Canberra was leaving Sunday morning. Being Captain Sensible, (well sometimes), I withdrew from the trip. As my buddies hit the Capital, I waited in Emergency for way too long then got a come back tomorrow, (a bit inconvenient, just like a Dusty don’t argue). I fixed the mower and got the lawns done in between icing the foot- It was MICE (Mow Ice Compression Elevation) instead of RICE.

On Monday as the girls finished their first round of golf, I got the good news it’s not broken but nonetheless was a tad miffed that I was in Echuca and not golfing and gas bagging with the gang.

In reality the universe was probably kind to me. After a few internal thought  arguments I was pretty thankful to be home this week. Yesterday was a Code Red fire day. Think 42 degrees Celsius  and 40 to 60 kph Northerly winds with mega gusts whistling from very early morning. We live in a fire prone area near Echuca. When Thursday’s Code Red was called Wednesday, the anxiety rose somewhat. We prepared as best we could and thought through the worst case scenario including what would trigger us to leave.

As Thursday played out, we had fires to the North, West and South at different times of day from 7am, all within 30 km. The North and West fires were controlled quickly. The southern fire was not a threat to us. It was serious though and burnt over 600 Ha and a home. Irrigation districts can burn too. The cricket was on, the air conditioner worked and there was plenty of Think Agri work to do. It was hard to focus in between checking the Fires Near Me app.

Yesterday was also National Agriculture Day. I’ve been trying to decide if it’s fitting or ironic that National Ag Day fell on the hottest November day for 100 years. I landed with fitting. It was a stark reminder that the business of farming is a long haul game. There are difficult periods, some longer than others, as parts of Australia are experiencing right now. There are difficult days, such as yesterday with awful consequences for some and strokes of luck for others. There are good times too. 2019 is shaping up to be one of those years in Victoria’s Wimmera and Southern Mallee despite well below average Spring rain. It’s these good times that make us love it.

And amongst these cycles over many years, one trend is consistent. Several studies have shown that high performing farms return about twice that of the average within their sector. Some of the standout traits identified are- timely operations, a flexible approach and financial and commercial acumen. The decision makers are astute under pressure, they reframe setbacks and find practical solutions to manage their way out of difficult circumstances. They have a good team around them, be it family, non-family employees, their peers and trusted service providers, yet they recognise the responsibility ultimately sits with them.

So despite what Mother Nature dishes up, high performing farm businesses can weather the impact in tough times and reap the rewards in favourable seasons. And amazingly, returns are less volatile than the stock market and in the same realm as other assets classes. The investment community is cottoning on and Agriculture is now recognised as an investment asset class. (Sorry, not sorry for these meagre puns).

The girls are now on the bus returning from Canberra and probably a bit tired from all the social excitement. We are safe, so is our home and our garden is okay. The foot should recover enough to take the intellectual weight of next week’s Thought Leaders Business School in Sydney. I am refreshed and the astute decision makers in Agriculture keep on making astute farm business decisions.

We’re excited to be launching Think Agri Insights, our new digital print and audio communications service. Through this platform, we’ll take a much deeper look into the controllable factors that drive returns and the implications for both experienced farmers and investment professionals. The findings may surprise you.

For an annual investment of  $360 + GST, ten episodes will be available from the Think Agri members lounge throughout 2020 and a bonus December 2019 edition is due out early next month. Sign up and tell us the topics you’d like explored via the Expressions of Interest link at thinkagri.com.au.

So far you’ve told us you want to hear more on decision making, dealing with people and yourself, making input decisions mid season and business planning after difficult seasons. We’ll cover these topics and more. Happy Friday and a belated Happy National Ag Day.