Dairy queen keen on big career
SHE left school with dreams of a career in agriculture and despite a battle with Q-Fever, breaking three ribs in an altercation with an impatient bull and falling milk prices, Christine Ranger remains determined.
There is no question this 20-year-old has had her share of testing moments in the three years since she left school, but it hasn't altered her chosen path.
I believe there is a future in agriculture for young women like me. If you are prepared to work hard and you love it; then there has to be a place for us because we are committed to the business of feeding people.
Instead the eldest daughter of Pilton dairy farmers John and Robyn Ranger is more strongly committed than ever to create a future for herself working on the family's 365ha property.
"If we weren't dairying I wouldn't know what to do with myself at 3am," she laughed.
"Seriously though I love it.
"I love working with cattle, I enjoy dairying and despite the terrible milk prices I would still like to believe there is a future in the industry."
She worries about the slim margins though: it currently costs her family 45c a litre to produce milk, while processors are paying 53c a litre.
Last week the family's corn and forage sorghum crops were shredded in a hail storm and while sections of crop may recover they are now facing the prospect of buying in grain.
"There's no margin in dairying when we grow our own crops, so if we are forced to buy in grain we have to question the point of staying in the industry," she explained.
She knows urban people are tired of farmers protesting about supermarket price wars, yet if she had her way she'd be encouraging shoppers to venture into the paddock.
"We need to educate city people so they realise milk doesn't come out of a fridge, it comes from a farm."
It's a point she's been keenly aware of since she started trailing behind her father on the property as a three-year-old.
"I've been milking since I was eight.
"These days though I do the AI (artificial insemination) program too, as well as the feed mixes, tractor work and breeding my own beef cattle.
"I think more women are becoming actively involved in agriculture, across all areas, from offices to farms to produce stores."
While Christine has never been afraid of getting her hands dirty, being practical has had its downside.
In 2011 she contracted Q-Fever (an illness caused by a bacteria commonly found in cattle) and was hospitalised for nearly two weeks, she has since battled almost annual relapses of high temperatures, aching joints and fatigue.
The following year she broke three ribs after being "head-butted by a bull" and struggled with even simple physical tasks for close to six months.
"It was very frustrating at the time; I nearly went insane not being able to do anything," she said.
"I am now a staunch advocate of getting vaccinated.
"If you are working with cattle you should definitely be vaccinated for Q-Fever; the ironic thing was I had booked in to have mine when I actually got sick with the illness."
Yet it hasn't deterred her from farm work.
If anything the two incidents have made her more determined than ever to make it in her chosen field.
"I believe there is a future in agriculture for young women like me," she said.
"If you are prepared to work hard and you love it; then there has to be a place for us because we are committed to the business of feeding people."
However if should be said this engaging young farmer isn't totally focused on work.
"I always take time out to get my hair and nails done and it's just to remind myself of my girly side.
"You can still be feminine and work in agriculture."