A CHILDHOOD mate inspired former intelligence officer, Russell Smith, to write a storybook about farming.
The floods, which ripped a path of devastation across the Mid North Coast, moved him to give the book's proceeds to the local dairy industry.
According to Russell, the book serves two purposes - to provide entertaining education for children about where milk comes from, and to help support local dairy farmers.
If two-and-a-half year old Albert Nicholson is anything to go by, Russell seems to have nailed the first part of the brief. Albert takes his copy of the book with him everywhere he goes on his own Jones Island dairy farm, north of Taree.
"Albert reads the book multiple times daily and it does come to the dairy with us," his mother, Rachel Nicholson said. "He loves the name Holly the Holstein and names all his toy cows that."
In regard to the second goal of helping dairy farmers, Russell is well on his way.
"I wanted to do what I could to help and to pay tribute to the industry," Russell said. "When I finished the book, I looked for a dairy cause."
After deciding he wanted the proceeds of the book to go toward delivering support for dairy farmers, he contacted Dairy NSW to find out who needed it most. The answer was the Mid Coast Dairy Advancement Group, aka DAGs.
DAGs started up in 1980 to support the farmers looking improve their practices through innovation, education and collaboration. It's a farmer-led association dedicated to advancing the industry.
I wanted to do what I could to help and to pay tribute to the industry.- Russell Smith
For Gloucester dairy farmer and DAG member Trevor Middlebrook, the group is essential for dairy farmers, the future of the industry, and succession planning.
"The group provides support through knowledge sharing, networking, tours of other regions and other industries, young farmer development and time off the farm," Trevor said.
Along with the many events and activities planned throughout the year across all of DAGs' micro-groups, it also holds an annual dairy farmer dinner - something that has been a bit tricky over the past couple of years due to drought, floods and COVID.
For Trevor, the event is the dairy industry's version of 'RUOK Day'. It gives farmers the chance to take a break from the farm - a 24 hour a day, seven day a week job - to spend time with others who can relate, to socialise and to share their tragedies and triumphs.
"Time off is so important," Trevor said.
At the time of publication, Russell had made a $2000 donation to Mid Coast DAGS.
For more information about DAGs visit www.midcoastdags.com.au.
About the book
Being a former intelligence officer and having spent many years writing briefs that needed to be short, succinct and get the point across as quickly as possible, he figured the same rule applied for writing a children's book. His inspiration for the story came one day when he opened the fridge and saw a picture of a cow on a packet of butter. Having grown up in the Atherton Tablelands in Far North Queensland not far from his good friend, Colin Daley and his dairy farm, he instantly had his main character - Farmer Col.
For more information about the book or to purchase, visit hollytheholstein.com.
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