Bit long between drinks (sounds like my blogs)
I’ve been meaning to write this next blog for ages, but watching Australian Story the other night, which I felt was just so inspirational, touched me so, for many reasons. Hats off to you Brian & Nerida Egan your selflessness, courage and motivation it’s just so hard to describe the huge measure of appreciation, what a wonderful job you both do. I have heard of Aussie Helpers, no doubt Retweeted and shared links on social media but didn’t know the story behind it.
Well I had written most of this blog about my experience with drought, from memory when I thought “I know where I would get some info, my annual newsy Christmas letter” low and behold I found my March 2012 blog in my New Year’s Letter 2009 (I know this most likely relates to when someone brings out their slides from their once in a lifetime trip, but it says it all, so please bear with me)
Dear Friends, 3 January 2009
We have by no means had a bad year, we have all been healthy which, by any standard is a major blessing, also all our love ones are still with us, nothing drastically has gone wrong, if for just one thing and that is RAIN or the very lack of it. I hear you say those on the land should just have to deal with this, which is true.
Oh we received lovely wonderful relief rain, the creeks ran, but not what the weather people said we would anticipate.
In 18months we registered 8mm at Goodwood; it was the first time in living memory that the whole shire, 61,000 sq km, was drought declared. Rick put out a survey to all land holders in the shire, 28 of the estimated 32 properties responded, and came up with these results; the shire which usually runs on avg 180,000 head of cattle was running below 7000, the properties had received 5.2% of their annual rainfall. Rick estimated that between the end of March to the end of June 22 triple roadtrains left the Boulia Shire per day. (our main bitumen road is a single lane “beef road”)
It just irked Rick and most people out here so much that when there is a natural disaster,
there is help from the government, as there should be, our drought, like all droughts around the country isn’t classed as such. You have to jump hoops and blow whistles to get any sort of acknowledgement from the powers that be that the shire and all those trying to make a living inside are doing it tough. No one is asking for handouts we all know that the land is prone to drought but a bit of leniency while trying to cope with it would be so beneficial.
The beginning of November we measured an inch over a day, it was magic rain, I was so excited, and we have measured a couple of 4 or 5mm since. The country has responded so well, but with cattle running out of feed on our agistment block (at Kynuna) and not enough feed to bring them all home. Rick was talking of selling all of the cattle except the youngest ones, a decision made with his head and not his heart and as usual a logical
and business sensible one. I cried at the thought but knew it would be better than them dying. Peter (Rick’s brother that has land around Winton) offered to take most of them on but he needed rain to do that also. So we just thought between Boulia, Kynuna and Winton one place would get rain.
All the calves off the agistment cattle were sold over the year to help pay the agistment as soon as they were buy diclofenac online weanable, if there is such a word. We luckily took 12 decks of cows and calves home to the Mountain and Lucknow (two of our blocks) which had measured more rain than Goodwood and good runs in the creeks, carefully drafted so the poorest got to travel on the bottom decks, not having to negotiate the ramp or movement of the top deck. Our wonderful cows all walked off the truck to green pick most likely knowing they were home again.
Our agistment block at Kynuna, were we had a couple of paddocks agisted 06/07, we have had the whole place of around 50,000acres agisted since March last year for 12months, that we can be so thankful for as many of our friends and neighbours struggled with finding agistment for their cattle and then only able to hold the agistment for 3 to 4 months than having to start the procedure all over again.
This taking them away from their homes for lengthy times, separating “mum and dad” as one would stay home or be with one lot of cattle and the other with another lot of cattle. Trying to keep up with neighbours, busy moving their cattle on agistment to keep them alive and wondering how their state of mind was isn’t the easiest thing on your mind. Thankfully these neighbours have received more rain than us, you couldn’t wipe the smile off their faces and could just hear their happiest in their voices when talking on the phone.
I won’t torture with the rest of the Christmas letter, but this is how I signed off: I wish you all a Happy and Healthy 2009, if we don’t have good health and aren’t happy, not much else matters, rain or no rain we have to get on with our lives and make the most of what we are given and be thankful for waking every morning.
Three things money can’t buy 1) health (yes it may help) or 2) happiness (or some think that it can, comfortable yes, happiness I don’t think so) or 3) what the weather will do tomorrow and let us thank our lucky stars that this is so.
The day after I wrote this letter and just days before we were to muster our beloved girls and start selling them off, the cloud we had been seeing for days, in the north, smelling the moisture, moving slowly slowly towards us, hearing reports of good falls from our neighbours, made hope bubble under our skin, it rained, like proper proper rain. We have had three fantastic years, the body of feed has been unlike anything Rick has ever seen.
If I never see another drought like it I will be truly blessed, but I don’t think I will ever forget the emotional feeling felt throughout that year and sympathise with those dealing with drought. I am always grateful for rain, thankfully we have never experienced too much. I found this poem (thoughts really) too that I remembered while gathering info, I won’t ever forget when I got to live the last sentence either, the thought still brings moisture to my eyes.
I wish, I hope and pray that soon there will be a day
When my nostrils fill with the smell of wet earth
When roos hop effortlessly across the flat not leaving tell-tale signs of puffs of dust with each bound
When sheer joy sings on the voices of our neighbours relaying over the phone how much they have measured
When the magical drumming on our tin roof hasn’t let up for hours
When life’s blood creeps along dry water ways filling up cracks, gathering speed and momentum, growing bigger with masses amounts of foam
When I stand outside and the tears of overwhelming relief flowing down my cheeks mix with the rejuvenating liquid falling from the sky
By Ann Britton 28/08/2008