Pat Coleby was one of the pioneers of natural farming in Australia. She has died at the age of 87 on June 1st 2015 after a lifelong love of looking after the wellbeing of farm animals. She was passionate to share her discoveries and fortunately for all of us Pat has left a living legacy in the form of books.
Hugo and I were privileged to get to know Pat well and to discuss ways to help farmers without the use of synthetic fertilizers and other toxic products. We first had the pleasure of meeting Pat when we discovered her book Farming Naturally and Organic Animal Care in 1991 when we were selling animal stock supplements at our farm supply store, Greenfields of Lilydale.
We felt strongly that animals needed to be self selecting natural minerals and when Pat found out that we were selling them she would always put us in the index of her books as they were hard to source. In total Pat wrote 7 books which were reprinted many times and translated into other languages – all books are well indexed and referenced and provide excellent resources for any farmer and/or animal lover.
Her writings are all based on her extensive experience in the animal and farming world. Pat didn’t just make a decision about animal health she was a keen observer of animals and when animals died, in the early days she would take them to Werribee Animal Research farm where the animal was dissected and she would work out where the cause of death originated.
Pat’s knowledge spread far and wide and over the decades she received thousands of calls from all over the world from people seeking advice (and remember this is in the days before the Internet.) When she started she was one of the first ever to make sense to people who knew that they wanted to support animals the best they could without conventional treatments and grow their crops and pastures without synthetic fertilizers and weedicides. In fact Pat highly recommended seaweed and other naturally occurring minerals to correct many common ailments.
Her recommendation to treat snakebite with Vitamin C whilst highly successful was ridiculed by the establishment. It is now an acknowledged course of action.
When Hugo and I would visit Pat the phone would ring frequently and you would hear Pat answering. After listening to the reason they called, her 1st question would be “Have you read my book?” If the answer was yes she would then say go to page such and such you’ll find the answer. She was happy to talk to the person and help, often suggesting a soil test from SWEP laboratories as well as making available a range of free choice minerals. However if they hadn’t read the book she would become quite short with a person and tell them to read the book before they wasted any more of her time on the phone! Fair enough, we thought.
This ensured keeping some time for herself. Pat was busy always reading more books, newspapers and following up consultations with her 1000’s of clients. Pat thoroughly researched all matters of interest and I can remember her extensive records on every conceivable mineral that was known in existence at that time. With her passing it is a great loss to all of the natural carers of our lands and our animals. On behalf of all who came to know and love Pat and her teachings we say “Thank You!!!!!”
Finally from Pat in the conclusion of her 1st Book: Farming Naturally and Organic Animal Care “I would like to take this opportunity to support you, the reader, in your quest for a better system of farming and consequently healthier environment. Hopefully the information in this book will have helped you in that important search”.
A clever person solves problems – A wise one prevents them
Pat took this quote from Dr Stuart Hill when he addressed a talk on organic agriculture in 1993. She went on to say that “I think that describes my approach to agriculture in general and animal care in particular, very well.”
The philosophy of prevention being better than a cure is a recurring theme throughout all her writings.