This week I want to briefly re-visit the drought situation that is still occurring in parts of NSW and Queensland…
As with all things in the media, stories are here today and gone tomorrow, but drought still rages unabated in some areas and the rain that fell in the north-west of the state at the end of March was patchy at best.
In our house gauge we received around 110mls but across the road (maybe 2/3klms) we had 130+mls with twice that further east in places and less than half, only 10klms west. Travelling home from a wedding in Dubbo, when we couldn’t traverse dirt roads because they were too wet, the dust was still flying between Coonamble and Walgett.
Whilst we have been provided with some respite from the constant, daily grind of feeding, others are still faced with sourcing feed at huge expense and delivering it to starving animals. Many have de-stocked, others have been able to find agistment which provides relief from the endless and monotonous routine, but not for the bank balance. The rain we received, whilst adequate to produce some feed, is about a third of what we will need to produce a crop and without more rain VERY soon the window will also close, for another year, on income from that source.
Some might say at least we are a third of the way in front of those croppers who have had no rain and they would be right, to a degree. As the weeds sprang to life in our cultivations and the boys launched into spraying (to conserve the valuable moisture) I commented on the irony of it all when only a week or so before we had been depressed at the constantly desolate and dry outlook. This euphoric state and renewed optimism was not to last though and we had to call a halt to the spray regime because the ground was so dry that the moisture virtually sank out of sight and chemicals were no longer required to dispatch those sweet green shoots.
Those who did not receive rain can be assured that constant feelings of guilt have pervaded my lifted spirits knowing that you have not had this all too brief change from dust bowl to feed bowl, as you look out your kitchen window.
I can only hope some of you benefited from a share of the donation CWA of NSW forwarded to the Rural Financial Counselling Services to be distributed to drought affected families across the state earlier this year. I wish it could have been more because my understanding is that successful applications, for some government assistance measures, have been few and far between.
Eternal optimism can usually be found lurking somewhere in the psyche of most “Aussie battlers” and the fact that rain fell fairly generally elsewhere will be offering some hope that our turn in the north-west might be in the next change. But just in case, if you know a farmer and haven’t spoken to them in a while, pick up the phone and ask “Are you ok, mate?”