As a regional journalist for The Land, part of the role is being out and about. It's a great gig for someone who loves to get about the countryside looking across fences at various crops, stock and machinery.
This year is a fine example of what it means to have the opportunity to travel the regions attending sales, writing about topics as diverse as the finest micronned wool in the world to all breed record prices being shattered, and that's only talking about livestock.
Highlights throughout the year have been many.
The Mayne family from Texas Angus, Warialda, sold a yearling bull, Texas Thunderstruck T383, for $360,000 to Mackas Angus at Salt Ash.
What a sight to see as the auctioneer took the audience from a pretty low start through the $100,000, $200,000 and then $300,000 marks to settle at a new all-breeds bull record. It was the first time an Angus topped Australia's all-breeds bull prices.
The north of the state has a large number of cattle studs, and getting to each of their sales is a bonus not only to look at the stock that has been catalogued but also to chat with the people who are putting their money where their mouth is to breed the type of cattle they believe are the most marketable.
There's little doubt of the fantastic ability of the families that breed and prepare these sale cattle for seedstock and the butcher or supermarket trades.
Another highlight was seeing (and touching) a Merino fleece that measured a world record 9.4-micron. It was grown by David and Susan Rowbottom, Rowensville Merinos, St Helens, Victoria, in an area known for high rainfalls and not typically known for super and ultrafine wool production.
Changes in governments at state and federal level have also added a frisson of spark to life in rural and regional NSW. Water buybacks in the Murray Darling Basin will have long-term impacts on either side of the political divide. Changes in funding criteria, such as vouchers to provide travel support for senior community members, are being drawn back.
On the other hand, bouquets where they are due, applause for the federal government to fund more than $34 million to rebuild the critical route between Merriwa and Willow Tree will make life much more accessible for many people.
Renewable energy sources and supplies are the conversation stoppers at barbecues, pubs, country shows, near and wherever large numbers of regional people gather. The widening number of wind and solar factories concerns many who live near these. The rolling out of transmission lines to shift this renewable energy to the massive population areas is also causing much grief. While our coastal mates want sustainable energy supplies, they seem to avoid the heavy lifting that country people must endure.
A series of steer and heifer shows held through the year, from Wingham, Glen Innes, Scone, the Easter Show and in Armidale, is one of the memorable occasions experienced. At the Upper Hunter Beef Bonanza event, there were about 570 students from schools across the state.
I was super-impressed by the focus, the attention to detail, and the application of the students. Any critic of today's young people should be made to sit at ringside to see how these people, who are tomorrow's agricultural practitioners, perform with grace and good humour.
I also want to salute the effort and commitment of the ag teachers and the parents and friends of those who compete in these shows. The ag teachers are the catalyst for student involvement.
A great example was a team from Gunnedah, who practically swept the field in the meat judging section of the Beef Bonanza, closely followed by the crew from Kempsey, who took home ribbons with their cattle, their judging entrants, and their cattle leaders. Kudos to every one of those 570 students who were involved with the Scone event.
In a weekend of positives, the announcement by a major sponsor to offer scholarships or internships to two students to visit their massive herd of Angus on King Island and in the Upper Hunter Valley also deserves mention. It is fantastic to see money where the mouth is, offering and delivering opportunities to encourage young people to seek a vocation in agriculture.
It was also challenging (maybe even heartbreaking) to watch the north and northwest slip from a series of crackerjack seasons to one teetering on a drought again. Most contract harvesters in the north were able to skip through winter cereal crops as yields dived.
During a visit to Agquip in August, it was noteworthy that producers of concrete troughs, feed bunks and pads were doing good business as producers began to prepare for another drought. It is also important to recognise those prepared for the next big dry. Those who put silage and grain into long-term storage pits could begin feeding, even taking advantage of market prices, making a fair impression of bobsleigh in sale yards across the state.
Then, watching the season and attitudes turn around with some pretty decent falls of rain and to see the countryside green up again, it was a relief to mingle among agents, vendors and buyers at selling centres, feeling encouraged by the dramatic turnaround in fortunes. Outside the office, as I write, heavy rain show swiftly the weather changes for granted, will deliver a fabulous Christmas present to the region. It reminds us we can never take for granted how swiftly the weather changes.
Finally, the e-bike cackle. Attending a wedding in the big smoke, I got talking to a mate I hadn't seen for some time, and the discussion turned to how he'd bought an e-bike for his wife to "enjoy" bike riding just like he did.
Up piped the lady of the house, who was particularly chirpy about her new acquisition.
"When he's busting veins and sinews are protruding from his neck on a steep incline, my e-bike just cruises past him," she said.
"And that's when you hear the e-bike cackle," her partner said.