I’VE known her since the day she was born. This feisty, fabulous female was always going to be a handful. She’s a lot like me. It’s the way we’re wired. A colicky baby, she fought and struggled to breastfeed. She cried a lot. Didn’t like to sleep much, still doesn’t, there’s too much life to be living. Around the age of 3 she insisted I make her a baby kangaroo out of play dough and threatened hell to break loose if a joey was not produced. She’d throw an almighty tantrum and scream at her mother “I’m not a naughty girl” before running out of the room. Even as a little kid, she had a taste for the absurd, able to eat exotic things and laugh at the ridiculous. As a teenager, on holidays, her in one single bed, me in the other, we’d laugh at our similar sleep patterns. She’s a worrier, too, and a lot of people think she looks so much like me, she could be my daughter.
But my niece, Cheneya Freese, was born with cattle breeding in her veins from both sides of the family. Now 17, this is a kid who has worked part-time after school and on weekends, saving her pennies, because she has a big dream. She wants to one day run her own cattle station. Some people would say she is mad, this teenager with this huge dream, in a country of droughts and flooding rains. Where the industry is dying a slow death. But not me. Because I know her. I’ve watched this kid with the fighting spirit from the get-go and know if anyone can do it, it’s her. Things don’t come easily to her, she’s the type of person who has to go and grab life by both hands. Give it a furious shake. Hope something drops from the tree. And just when she thinks it’s not going to happen, when she’s on the verge of quitting, she dusts the bullshit off her jeans and picks herself up.
So determined is Cheneya to realise her big dream, that since she started high school four years ago, she has been undertaking agriculture at school, working with her dad on his property – west of Brisbane – and attending as many local agricultural shows she can. That’s where she met Bevan and Dawn Voight from Warrill Creek. Cheneya was hell bent on breeding Murray Greys, until she met Bevan and Dawn, and discovered the interesting breed, Square Meters. She started building cattle yards, fences and troughs on the family property. Attended meetings with other Square Meaters, helped Bevan and Dawn show their cattle at local shows. And begged her father to let her buy some of her own cattle, and put them on the property.
In the meantime, she also established her own stud name and logo – Serenity Plains. With her savings she bought three cattle – Gone Forever, Ebony Eyes and Hosannah – from Bevan and Dawn. She’s registered her own brand. Bought a ute and got her driver’s licence. Last October, Serenity Plains welcomed its first calf – Jaala. Shortly after, on Boxing Day, another calf called Judge came into the stud. In less than six months, Cheneya’s herd of three increased to five.
But the story doesn’t end there. Last month, Cheneya decided to enter her cattle in the Toowoomba Show. It wasn’t an easy day. After recent rain, the humidity was stifling and the mud up to this young cattle woman’s thighs. One of her cattle was unsettled and as she walked and walked around the ring, tears fell from her eyes. But then, just as you’d think she’d give up, things did their last-minute turnaround for her. And she won Champion Senior Female and Grand Champion Female overall across her breed. Against all the other, older die-hard cattle men and women.
At the end of this year when she finishes school, Cheneya hopes to gain a traineeship within the beef production industry. She’s inching one step closer to that dream. And over the coming years there will be plenty of drought and flooding rains. There will be plenty of tears shed under the Akubra and moments when she’ll want to quit. But I’ve known this young woman since the day she was born. Her plans will tweak and change, but quitting, nah, it’s not an option.
For more information on Serenity Plains or the Square Meters breed, please contact Cheneya Freese on 0458 805 499 http://www.facebook.com.au/SerenityPlainsSquareMeters