All For Want of Water

Its Friday afternoon, and I am sitting in the hot un-airconditioned cab of an old acco truck trying to read a book. I say trying because there is a hauntingly sad image in front of me, the bleached dried skeleton of an old scrub cow. I knew her by sight, sure she was a wild/feral cow, but we never begrudged her some cottonseed when we were out feeding-she would die without it.. Well, she died anyway, and its upsetting me as I wait in the hot dusty cab of the truck.

Why am I waiting? Well, I am waiting for the old green tank on the back of the truck to fill with water from the nearly empty dam, the one that the old cow died in.

45 minutes to fill, drive to another dry water point, 45 minutes to empty, return, repeat.

At least while the truck is emptying into the tanks and troughs around the property I get a better image to focus on, that is the image of our cattle that are still alive, crowding around for a drink of that precious life giving water.

Without this old acco truck, and the even older green tanker, these cattle would all be dead of thirst.

Although it sounds easy, carting water is one of the hardest jobs to do. Emotionally and mentally it exhausts you, and physically its hard too.

Lifting the pump on and off the back of the truck along with all the pipes needed to move the water around is no small feat for a girl of my size.

Today, I burnt my hand on the hot exhaust pipe of the pump when I tried to unscrew a pipe, I ripped my hand away, and as I did, one of the rings I was wearing caught on the pump, and it was a tug of war to see which would win, the searing heat of the metal, or the ripping sensation of my flesh as I tore the ring off my hand.

The heat won, and I fell back cradling my hand, swelling and bruising was immediate, and I plunged my hand into the muddy water of the dam, burying it deep into the cooling mud.. Crying is not an option out there all alone, so I just sat, waiting for the pain to recede, and the pump to cool before I gave it another go.

Lift it onto the truck, and begin the rounds once more…

I spent all of friday in the truck carting water around, all day. And at the end of the day, I know that around 250 head of cattle will have enough water-for 2 days. We have 600 head of dry thirsty cattle to cart water to.

Carting water is a continuous slow dusty and horrible job. But the reward is in seeing the cattle, old seasoned breeding cows, and their young calves alike enjoying a cool drink of water.

Without this old acco truck and the old green tanker, we would be ruined.

Mentally, emotionally, financially. Ruined.

Some paddocks we can cart enough water to last a couple of days, others that are less set up, we cart water twice a day to. 1000 litres in a tank on the back of the ute, sounds like a lot of water, but often the thirsty cattle waiting around the trough drink it as it flows from the tap. It doesn’t last long, so we go back with another load an hour or so later.

At least with our tanker, we have a hope, it can hold some 40,000 litres, enough to half fill a tank, or a turkeys nest. Whilst ever there is a dam with water still in the bottom we can carry it around to the cattle, sharing it around, rationing it out in some paddocks, but making sure everyone gets a drink. Its hard, but the alternative is worse.

At this time of year, some people look forward to an imaginary red sleigh, with reindeer, its their favourite thing they say.

Well, for me and my family, and our beloved cattle, our favourite thing? Right now? Its the old truck, and its green tanker, the roar of the engine brings cattle running. The slosh of water in its belly, better than any fake sack of goodies in any imaginary sleigh.

This truck, carries life. Carries hope. Carries water.

Because for the want of water, everything would die.

Praise God, for the water he gives us everyday… You never know when it might be gone..

And with only 3 usable dams left in 80 square km, that day might be sooner than we think…. That day for us could be less than 2 weeks away.

Pray God for water, Pray God for strength, Pray as though lives depend upon it. Because in our case, they do.

~ Jillaroo

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