Drought is heart wrenchingly difficult for farmers to go though. To see the grass slowly dry out and wither, to see the livestock you love and work for slowly starve to the extent that they have no strength left and die, to hear rain forever predicted on the radio only to be disappointed time and again, not knowing which will happen first – rain or financial ruin, for feeding thousands of sheep is costly and it will all be for nothing if it does not rain. But it’s not all doom and gloom, even in times of drought! We learn to look on the bright side of life in order to cope.
What are the bright things, you may ask? The first thing is the rewards of the country life and your hard work. Feeding stock the way we do is very very hard work, but to know that you are saving their lives by giving them the food they need is the reward! Without us they would be dead by now. Yesterday it was hot, it was soo hot, over 40˚C, that I felt like I could not shovel out one more load of beans without bursting into flames, wishing that I was sitting in a ute load of ice cubes instead of hot beans warmed from the sun. But I did it anyway (and thankfully no spontaneous combustion occurred) and the sheep came running over even in the extreme heat and eagerly ate it all, giving them the sustenance they need to keep them and their lambs going a bit longer. Its a good feeling! Thinking that way about things helps us to get through the everyday jobs. On a side note the bad “bean” jokes run rampant here and someone is always making a pun about them, all we can do is smile, groan and shake our heads about it every time it happens.
Another bright thing is the way the community bands together in times like this, because we are not the only ones suffering in drought, it is the whole community and often large portions of the country. When I go to our local town, to the rural supplies store, there is often a whole bunch of graziers in there yarning about the rain (or lack thereof), the market, the things they’ve been doing. They get moral support from each other which really does make a huge difference, to know that they are not alone. Because the country life can be lonely and it can sometimes feel like you are all alone, and a drought is a huge burden to carry all by yourself. So, if you are a lone drought stricken farmer then getting in touch with people can be of great help. But you are probably not a lone drought stricken farmer (because they don’t tend to read blogs on the internet) but you can help if you know someone in drought, just by letting them know that you’re thinking of them and praying for them because it really does make a huge difference.
The third bright thing is just having fun with things, there is alot of work to be done and it is easy to feel like you are snowed under. A good sense of humour is essential out here and we learn to see the funny side of everything. Like my brother (and he will hate me for telling this story!) was riding along one day on an old ag motorbike (and he tends to ride fast), and he must have been off in dreamland or something because he didn’t even notice the boredrain looming up ahead of him. For those who don’t know – a boredrain is a big ditch with water in it, used for watering the stock. He had completely forgotten that it was there and he hit the boredrain at full speed! He came out the other side okay but the poor old ag would never be the same again. The back suspension was shot to pieces and he rode it home with the back end practically dragging on the ground, but instead of cursing over the broken bike we all laughed about it. The worker we had here at the time saw the whole thing and it was hours before we could get the story out of him, he was laughing so hard! It still comes up in conversation sometimes, when my Dad forgets something and my brother starts ribbing him about it he usually comes back with “well who’s the one who forgot about the massive boredrain in the middle of the road?!” and my brother has not been able to live it down to this day. It was actually a happy day for him when the boredrains dried up, and that is truly looking on the bright side of life!