Mandy McKeesick has worked as an exploration geologist in the deserts of Western Australia, as a deckhand on a rather small boat on the Tasman Sea and in offices as a bookkeeper and trainee accountant, but today her home is on a cattle property in central Queensland where along with mustering cows and yelling at miniature fox terriers who think they are pig dogs, she is a freelance writer specialising in rural and regional Australia.
Mandy was born onto a dairy farm in southern New South Wales but her dairying experience ended shortly after she was knocked over and partially eaten by a sow defending her piglets. Mandy’s family then moved to a 14acre block and it was not until she was working in the Great Sandy Desert and met a good, keen Kiwi bloke that her thoughts turned once again to a farming life.
The Kiwi bloke, soon after to become her husband, had been a head shepherd, possum trapper and deer hunter in New Zealand and his stories rekindled a desire in her to be part of the land once more. Together they bought a hobby farm while running an abalone business and then 13 years ago made the decision to return to farming full time with the purchase of a
beef property near Tenterfield and then at Coolatai in northern NSW.
With experience in the deserts and on the ocean Mandy thought she would adapt to farming quite easily. She soon found out she was wrong. Mustering on a fractious thoroughbred, training working dogs, cattle husbandry and driving the ancient truck with no power steering all proved to be a steep learning curve and she vented her frustrations in a blog called Rocky Springs Rambles. That most of the last 13 years have been drought added yet another dimension to her world.
Mandy had always enjoyed writing and in the depths of the drought, at age 44, she embarked on yet another career move, this time as a freelance writer, passionately bringing the stories of rural and regional Australia to a wider audience. She has written for national publications such as RM Williams Outback, Australian Geographic and the Sydney Morning Herald, and through her corporate work meets many inspirational people in the world of agriculture.
“I really think it is a privilege to live and work in rural Australia and in agriculture. It gives you a connection to nature and to country not enjoyed by those who live in urban environments. To have the responsibility of caring for livestock while working with the whims of Mother Nature, and to understand what you know will always be exceeded by what you don’t (and to be comfortable with that) is a rare and wonderful way of life. To be able to share the amazing characters and stories within agriculture through words is just icing on the cake.”
We love the way that you have grown and adapted to your surroundings, and found your own way to make your role the primary industries work for you. We truly believe that telling the stories of the primary industries is such a key component in ensuring the industry continues to grow in a positive way. We love what you do Mandy!