This Drought

The drought that is currently gripping many parts of the country is no secret.  When I step out of our garden gate I am greeted by swirling red dust and bare ground.  Not too far from the house is an enormous, empty hole in the ground that is normally our house ground tank (dam).  But for now it is just a hole hooked up to a pump system, waiting for rain.

Up to this point I have chosen not to share much of this reality on my blog or Instagram.   I would be horrified to think that I sounded like a whinging farmer or that I seemed ungrateful for everything we have.  We are the sort of people who just get on with things, but with no rain in sight some days call for a bit of extra resilience and strength.

On Friday morning my husband headed off to investigate a frustrating machinery break down while I headed off to check a ground tank that is going dry.  Immediately I noticed a weak lamb that had been drinking and become stuck in the mud.  I struggled to get him free as his little body had created suction in the filthy mud.  Once he was free I put a gentle hand on his head and said a few kind words, knowing that his chances of survival were slim.  Sadly, there are many lambs that just haven’t made it this year, despite the best efforts of the brave ewes.  The wind and dust started to whip up in the north with that unmistakable feel of a dust storm approaching, signalling it was time for me to move on.

As farmers we are constantly faced with the reality of death and the cycle of life but at the moment the lack of feed for our animals is amplifying the emotion of the situation.

I feel as if the media coverage of the drought is at saturation point and I find most of it too morbid to listen to.  Perhaps right now I am adding to the saturation! When I hear of various charity efforts directed at farmers I tend to cringe.  Not because I am ungrateful but because I see cold, hungry homeless people in our local town and feel they are more worthy of charity than us.  But perhaps it is just that the idea of charity is uncomfortable in an industry and community that is full of proud and resourceful people.

As a family farming business we have made decisions along the way to minimise the impact of this situation.  We have proactively de-stocked many of our sheep and cattle and we continue to supplementary feed our breeding stock.  Going forward, a weather crystal ball would make every decision much easier.

Now, more than ever I am grateful to have some side projects.  Not because I want to ignore this drought but because side projects keep me connected with a different outside world.  Experimenting with recipes and photography and baking for The Silly Goat all give my life another purpose while adding an extra element to our farming life.

This post has a few more words than normal so if you are still with me, thank you.  We are all ok, farming has been very good to us for several generations through all sorts of ups and downs, now it is time to ride out this difficult patch.

Happy Sunday, friends x

44 Comments

  1. Reply

    Anne Bartholomaeus

    August 5, 2018

    Oh well said Jane. It is certainly a very trying time for everyone. At times like this I hear the Dorothea McKellar poem in my head…..I love a sunburnt country !

    • Reply

      Jane S

      August 5, 2018

      Yes indeed Annie, good old Dorothea! x

  2. Reply

    Kate B

    August 5, 2018

    Resilience and patience… and a little worry thrown in for good measure. I hope those tough decisions you have had to make pay off Jane and that we see some rain sooner rather than later xx

    • Reply

      Jane S

      August 5, 2018

      Thanks Kate! It must be getting closer x

  3. Reply

    Sue Heward

    August 5, 2018

    Jane, I’ve been thinking about you a lot. I don’t really know what to write except to say my thoughts are with you everyday. We are madly collecting any drop of rain here but expecting to be declared a drought come Summer if there is no rain in between. What else can we do to help you and your community?
    ❤️❤️❤️ Sue

    • Reply

      Jane S

      August 5, 2018

      Thank you Sue, you are kind. Really this is part of what we do, but this time it so widespread that the options we sometimes have available (sending our stock on agistment for example) are limited. Hopefully we all get a few drops of rain soon x

  4. Reply

    Narelle Hetherington

    August 5, 2018

    Finding the joy in the down cycle builds such resilience.
    Our ancestors had similar experiences and were much less connected to the outside world of expression.
    It’s from their show of strength during such times that enable us to cope today.
    Keep capturing the hard times so that others can draw strength from your perspective, you have such an talent for image and emotion Jane.
    Our thoughts and love are with you and your family, draw strength from our pioneers and keep on nurturing.
    X

    • Reply

      Jane S

      August 5, 2018

      Beautifully said Narelle, thank you x

  5. Reply

    Kate

    August 5, 2018

    Thankyou Jane for sharing your reality with us. I’m in Tasmania so have limited experience of drought in the way that you experience.
    Cheers Kate

    • Reply

      Jane S

      August 5, 2018

      Thank you for calling in Kate.

  6. Reply

    Amanda

    August 5, 2018

    Beautifully written Jane. I am a bit further east than you and it is tough for sure, but I find myself cringing a lot too with the media saturation.
    A crystal ball would be fantastic but I am sure it will rain again soon, I can feel it in my waters! Side projects are so good for the mental health, I have been keeping busy (when not feeding sheep 😬) completely rejigging my garden, tidying up and putting extra attention into my veggie patch. My husband has been helping too.
    Hope you get some decent rain soon

    • Reply

      Jane S

      August 5, 2018

      Thank you Amanda, yes I am working towards rejigging my garden too, now seems like a good time for that. I appreciate your comment.

  7. Reply

    Maria

    August 5, 2018

    I am also finding the media getting me down. We do what needs doing and I agree on finding something else to break the monotony – and working on a dry garden seems to give hope. One day at a time and praying for rain.

    • Reply

      Jane S

      August 5, 2018

      Exactly Maria, thank you!

  8. Reply

    Lynda

    August 5, 2018

    Well said Jane. We are east of you & drought is slowly settling in. I try to remain positive… trying each day to find those little things that bring so much beauty to our land. It will rain one day… just wishing it was sooner rather than later.

    • Reply

      Jane S

      August 6, 2018

      Well said Lynda, thank you.

  9. Reply

    Mark

    August 5, 2018

    Its a pity our politicians have no back bone……during the 80’s a WA pollie ( Ernie Bridge) wanted to dam the Fitzroy River in the Kimberleys ( which would hold many times more water than the Ord scheme) and run a pipe line down thru the centre of Australia topping up existing dams and rivers and supplying water for agriculture either side of the pipe line. The cost was equivalent to the Snowy River scheme at the days $$$$……but they all howled about the cost. So 30 – 40 years later they spend billions building Desal plants around the country…..the most expensive way to make drinking water…..and only available to those that live nearby. How life saving that pipe line would be today?……makes me so angry grrrrrrrr!

    • Reply

      Jane S

      August 6, 2018

      Thanks for your comment Mark.

  10. Reply

    hanne

    August 5, 2018

    Hi, Jane

    I am so sorry for your bad Situation with the drought. We have travelled through your Country and Broken Hill 2015 and were so excited of it. We had seen the landscape as a Tourist but in our thoughts we are realzing thats only one side of the medal. The Farmers there have to work hard and strong with the klimate. Here in Germany this year we have now the dryest hardest summer since 1881 weather recording with temperatures by 40 Degrees and no rain. But we`ll get soon rain may be next weeks. And so ist even not so hard as yours. The climate exchange has begun for a long time and the hole world have to think about it.
    Our thoughts are with you and your hope for rain. You have all our strong support.

    Greetings vom Germany ,

    Hanne

    • Reply

      Jane S

      August 6, 2018

      Thank you so much Hanne, I appreciate your comments.

  11. Reply

    Sam

    August 5, 2018

    Hi Jane, gosh – I didn’t realise you had such a serious drought going on. News of things like that doesn’t filter to the UK. It sounds as though the farming life has given you all an in-built resilience and strong outlook but it must be incredibly tough if you’re losing animals. (Makes my niggling over the lack of rain in my garden seem ridiculous!) I’m glad to hear you have side-projects to keep your mind occupied. Thank you for sharing an insight into your life. Here’s hoping for rain for you and plenty of it. Sam x

    • Reply

      Jane S

      August 6, 2018

      I niggle over the lack of rain in my garden constantly too Sam! This situation really is part of what we do and where we choose to live but this time it is unusually widespread. I appreciate your kind thoughts and comments. Jane x

  12. Reply

    Anne

    August 5, 2018

    Thought provoking words and photos Jane. I think it’s important that you record these days here; far from adding to the saturation, you give a very personal insight. We’ve had a dry, hot summer over here and though it’s not half as extreme as yours (and we had a wet spring, which means our rivers were well filled) I completely understand your frustration. Farmers are good at getting on with things and making the most of their resources, but I’m not sure that everyone understands exactly how dependent we are on the weather and how impotent you can feel when you need rain/sun and it just doesn’t come.

    Reading your post, I wonder how it must have been for the first settlers in Australia. How did they cope going from the mild climate of home to the dry and unrelenting heat of Australia? No wonder you’re a tough bunch.

    • Reply

      Jane S

      August 6, 2018

      I often wonder about our ancestors and the early settlers also Anne. Even my grandmother’s generation had very basic facilities, raising large families in isolated areas of the outback. These thoughts always help to keep things in perspective and give me strength. Thank you for your thoughtful comments and constant support.

  13. Reply

    Christine

    August 5, 2018

    I know that Australia is in a drought. I’m sure with generations of farming there have been many ups and downs, still does not make it any easier. I think all the rain came here, although in the 90’s f it has rained almost everyday for ages, my garden and lawn have never looked so lush this time of year, PA, USA. Today I am flying off to UK, where I will be greeted with brown, no green and pleasant pastures, they’re in a drought too, of course nothing like yours.

    Some time you must write your family farm history, would love to read that.

    • Reply

      Jane S

      August 6, 2018

      Thank you so much Christine. Safe travels to the UK.

  14. Reply

    The Napoli Alert

    August 6, 2018

    “More worthy” – is there such a thing in hardship? My boys’ school is a boarding school and has many country students, the school is certainly doing what it can for those families. Big hugs to you and your incredible resilience.

    • Reply

      Jane S

      August 6, 2018

      Thank you! I appreciate your comments.

  15. Reply

    Jodie

    August 6, 2018

    Oh Jane, such a perfectly written post!
    We made the hard decision to destock at the end of last year as there was no promising rain on the horizon and my farmer’s health was not great. Like you, I am also grateful for side projects to keep me connected to the ‘outside’ world.
    I too cringe a little, for the same reasons as yourself, when I hear (and read) of the charity efforts directed at farmers.
    Terry and yourself are doing an amazing job Jane, hang in there. xx

    • Reply

      Jane S

      August 6, 2018

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment Jodie, I think of you and your family often. Take care xx

  16. Reply

    Kate W

    August 6, 2018

    Oh Jane,
    Us city folk probably don’t appreciate the conditions. I so do admire you and your family. No farmers, no food.
    I hope the little lamb survived.
    Kate W

    • Reply

      Jane S

      August 12, 2018

      Thank you Kate, I appreciate you calling in.

  17. Reply

    Lenore

    August 7, 2018

    Thinking of you and all the farmers living through this drought. I can sympathise having lived through droughts in the. Central West. It’s heart breaking when there isn’t enough stock feed and sometimes the only option is to put them out of their misery. Each day you hang on knowing you are one day closer to rain. Xxx

    • Reply

      Jane S

      August 12, 2018

      Thank you Lenore, yes we must be getting closer to the rain!

  18. Reply

    CJ

    August 7, 2018

    So sorry things are so tough for you at the moment, I hope it eases soon. It is an agonising situation, and you’re in my thoughts.

    • Reply

      Jane S

      August 12, 2018

      Thank you CJ, lovely to hear from you.

  19. Reply

    Sally

    August 7, 2018

    Hi Jane, Well you always write a beautiful post, no matter the subject, but this time you nailed it..! I have so much admiration for these words of yours. It’s so typical of the considerate, resourceful, and courageous person that you are. Cheers!

    • Reply

      Jane S

      August 12, 2018

      Thank you so much Sally, you are very kind. x

  20. Reply

    Cindy

    August 7, 2018

    So nice to meet you Jane. How I wish your drought would improve and I will be praying for your area. I don’t watch the news anymore because it is too depressing here in the States, and did not realize Australia was also experiencing a drought. It seems to be this years’ theme throughout the world. Love you writing, honesty, and beautiful photos.

    • Reply

      Jane S

      August 12, 2018

      Thank you so much Cindy, I appreciate you calling in.

  21. Reply

    Stacey

    August 10, 2018

    It’s been hard for me to see the struggle, and hearing how bad this drought is compared to previous droughts. It must seem like the end is never in sight. Will get onto that crystal ball for you x

    • Reply

      Jane S

      August 12, 2018

      Thank you Stacey, I appreciate you calling in! x

  22. Reply

    Bec

    August 11, 2018

    You have raised so many valid points here Jane. All of which I agree with. It’s a precarious storyline. Many are quick to judge. But they have nothing to offer in return. It’s so important to keep a positive outlook. Every day throws something at you, some days it seems pointless, but MOST days remind you of what’s important. May there be more days reminding us all of our strengths & our resilience.

    • Reply

      Jane S

      August 12, 2018

      Thank you Bec, I do appreciate your comment. It is part of what we do isn’t it? x

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