Yesterday I posted a rant on our facebook page about the mental suffering of grazers and all farmers alike in this terrible drought we are enduring at this time. To illustrate my point, I used a photo of my gorgeous kelpie blue dog cross, Lolli. She was and is suffering from an unknown illness, one that looked like it would take her very life-and still could. This morning she is much improved though, and hopefully she continues to do so, after extremely valuable advice received from Breaker. She even finished her milk this morning, and smacked her lips with a little more life in her eyes.
My point in yesterdays post is that you really cannot know the amount of hardship, and the terrible choices that must be made on a farm in drought unless you have physically been there yourself, and made those choices.
its almost impossible to explain with words the trauma of a decision where your choices are bad, very bad and just plain awful. But one thing I learnt, (the only useful thing I have learnt) from animal activists websites and facebook pages, while I was trying to fight the anti-farmer movement, is this- take a picture, give suffering a face, and people can empathise.
I saw many photos of cattle, maybe a single brahman steer, lovely and quiet looking, they gave it a name, one I know they decided to call ‘Jacob’ and then told a story about how he was brutalized and cruelly murdered in some overseas abbotoir. Then they point the finger at Australian farmers and say ‘its all their fault’ This is not the point of my post today, but its very easy to see how people get so upset about Live Export with such a visual motivator.
So yesterday my motivator was the image of my own wonderful dog suffering, and people have responded! The response has been greater than imagined, although after the response we got from the picture of Bustas empty collar should have given me some sort of clue, seen by over 90,000 people, liked and shared so many times! I wish I could tell our mate how many people have grieved for him.. It would blow his humble doggy mind.
I have turned down many many offers for financial support, people who want to pay the vet fee to save my little dog, and I so appreciate every single one of them! I am not turning them down out of pride, or some misguided sense of martyrdom.. I say no, because I am only one person, only one insignificant farmers daughter in a country filled with people more needy, the grazier who is so broke he cannot afford to buy hay to keep his 5 year old daughters pony from starving. The sheep farmer who has to make a choice to buy more drench for his dying sheep, or putting food in his childrens mouths for one more week.
The man who with $100 left to his name, must decide if he will buy one more bale of hay for his favorite cows, or a carton of bullets to put them all down. Its no wonder so many of these hurting broken men turn the rifle on themselves after the grisly job is done.
If all I can do is share the photos of the things which break our hearts every single day, then see these pictures. A baby lamb named Choppa pulled from a bog hole, the only survivor out of 7 sheep, and 15 kangaroos, Choppa died after 3 days of love and care in the houseyard.
A calf called Geoff, pulled from a dam, where he was stuck beside the dead body of his mother, and named after a wonderful man, born malnourised, he looked more like an 80 year old POW than the 2 week old baby he was. We fought for him so hard, only to lose him 3 weeks later.
An old cow, struggles to stand, she was a much loved old girl, one of our special ‘MJ’ cows.. One day she stood up, the next I helped her up, the day after my little brother dragged her body away. My brother is 19. Why should he have to face that sort of thing, when others his age are partying and living life to the fullest? Other boys are travelling, having fun, getting first jobs and going to uni. My brother is a man beyond his years, he has seen more and suffered more than most men twice his age.
My sister is 21, girls her age are going to the beach and debating whether or not to wear that dress. My sister, doesn’t care what she wears, so long as she doesn’t have to see another animal in distress today.
If seeing these images hurt you, or make you feel sad, only imagine what it does to the minds and emotions of the men and women who see them in real life every day, those who fight to change the inevitable, those who work against all odds, to save a life, or to help an animal who is suffering.
Its difficult enough every day, but to do it with debt, or no money like so many graziers are trying to do right now? impossible. My fathers voice when our pet cow comes to him for food in the paddock, and he rubs her neck and apologises to her softly, ‘I’m so sorry girl, I cannot feed you today’
There is emotional damage occurring in the bush today, and if you can spare a moment, spend a moment.
Buy locally grown, support Aussie beef, Aussie lamb, pay an extra dollar for something direct from the grower.
And most of all, Thank God for the Aussie producer. They do it tough, they feel forgotten, and misunderstood. But every day I see more people standing up to say ‘hey, we see you, we appreciate you, we support you’
That is something we as farmers thank God for.. That encourages us.