Cheyanne McKay is one of four ABC Heywire winners

WORK: Cheyanne McKay with her father Rick, the inspiration behind her ABC Heywire article. Photo: Supplied.
WORK: Cheyanne McKay with her father Rick, the inspiration behind her ABC Heywire article. Photo: Supplied.

“It's easy to forget that there are farmers busting their backsides to feed us – day in and day out.”

These are the attention-grabbing nineteen opening words from the ABC Heywire winning piece written by 18-year-old Cheyanne McKay, detailing the work her family does to help feed Australia. 

In December Ms McKay was one of thirty-eight young Australians from regional communities announced as the winners of the 2017 Heywire storytelling competition, where people aged 16-22 share stories and try to make a difference in their communities.

Almost 700 people entered, and the winners were chosen for “telling it like it is” about life in their part of the country.

Ms McKay was inspired to write the story after being told “that farming wasn’t that hard.”

“Someone came up to me and said that farming was just spreading seed, making sure it doesn’t die and then harvesting it,” she said.

“It made me angry and upset and I wanted to help get the message out so hopefully more people could understand how wrong that is.”

Her father Rick operates a farm near Karoonda and she said farmers were “very under-appreciated and under-recognised”, and that was why she wanted to share her story in a public light.

Ms McKay’s piece outlined the physical and and financial hardships of life on the farm, as well as the emotional toll the unpredictable role can have on both the family and the individual:

“It's where your family is trying to cope around the house not seeing their dad or husband. That one empty spot at the dinner table that would normally be occupied.

It's sitting there thinking of your family and hoping they're coping OK without you, and that you're excited for it all to be over.”

Ms McKay was glad to have been recognised as one-of-four winners from South Australia, and hoped the message wouldn’t just be received in the country.

“I know a lot of city folk don’t even think about where the loaf of bread they buy comes from,” she said. “They’d just put the bread in the toaster, get it out and eat it.”

“They wouldn’t think about how much time, hard-work and sacrifice went into making that one loaf.”