"Don't be scared of hard work"
Joyce Irene Hatwell -
In this portrait Joyce is holding some of the brightest tomatoes (from the fattest stems) I've ever experienced. These are Roma tomatoes, and she grows these (and others) all year around, from the seeds she germinates in containers atop her wheat heater.
Joyce can be found still on her farm on the Coolamon road at Downside, where she has lived for 71 years, amongst her tomato patch, pride of the vegetable garden which fills her front yard.
She married Harvey Hatwell in 1946 at the age of 24 years. For Joyce, leaving her childhood home at this time provided a new sense of purpose; she found great fulfilment in the support she provided Harvey: successful sheep farmer and businessman, and despite having no children of their own, Joyce values family above all.
Joyce recalled to me the modest beginnings of the property; from fattening lambs for sale, then branching into wool with initially just two stands in their small woodshed, and six weeks of shearing one year, to harvesting clover and clover seed which she called 'black gold'. Her nephew now manages the property but Joyce still has her finger on the pulse, discussing with me the value of 'big machinery' and 'satellite' navigation.
Like so many of the characters I have been fortunate to capture as part of the Breed of Their Own project, Joyce believes in 'rolling with the punches'; taking each day as it comes, not allowing yourself to be overcome with worry, being realistic in your ambitions, yet making the most of your opportunities, your 'luck'!
I recently revisited with Joyce, now 94, to share her 'newfound notoriety' in Outback Magazine and was once again struck by her warmth as she welcomed me in. Joyce and I have no prior connection, yet she reminds me of my own grandmother, perhaps something in her smile. On this visit she confessed that seeing herself through my lens made her feel old, that her wrinkles showed her age, so I had to remind her of her value, to me and to this community.
To me, Joyce epitomises gratitude; she makes her own clothes, couldn't live without her hot water service, and misses her fuel stove. These things all point so strongly to the values she holds; inventiveness, practicality, and tradition, things that I value too.
Another wonderful person in the coffee table book, order online breeedoftheirown.com.au