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