Reign

Growing up on the land, country people are often surrounded by many animals. They become so attached to the animals they see each day, whether it be a cow in the paddock rearing calves for profit or an old dog, done with his use, but spending his days of retirement happily kicking around the house paddock.

Because of their attachment to the animals, farmers will often do whatever necessary for an animal that is sick. Even if that animal can give very little to nothing back. With the hardship of drought, and bad markets, you have to have a genuine love of the land and the animals you work with to stay out here. If you just wanted the money, a day job in town would be far more logical.

I would like to share a story, from July 2013, which depicts just that. When an animal is sick, we do everything we can to help it regain health. Obviously there are times when the kindest thing is to put the animal out of its misery, but if there is hope, we fight for it!

Being self-sufficient is a dream I have had most of my life, so I was after some good milking goats to help with that dream. The reason goats were chosen over cows was they are better suited to our country and are less messy to milk. The particular breed I chose was the Anglo Nubian, for their high cream content.

So when I saw a mob of does advertised, all in kid to a purebred buck I jumped at it. My husband and I drove down and picked up four. We checked their teeth for their age, made sure they seemed healthy, and took them home.

The first doe to bag up was my favorite, and I hoped so much that she would produce a girl. The morning the kids were born, I came out to find she had had twin girls. A fantastic way to build a great little milking heard! Unfortunately, it was not fantastic at all; instead it was a sight of devastation.

There was a sickly grey kid staggering after its mother, whose bag had obviously not been sucked, the kid’s eyes were off focus, and it was weak. Her sister was still lying where she had been born; she was still wet and covered in mucus. She was bleating for help, and seemed to be paralyzed and could not lift her head. I went straight to her, and felt for broken bones. My mind was racing, trying to come up with an explanation. Her neck caught my attention. It was bent, like a ‘C’. Had the mother trodden on her neck just after birth? I felt for the break, however it was solid, as if there was only one bone in the neck.

Image

This is a photo of the kid after I dried her out and placed her on a mat in the sun to warm up. She could not lift her head, and I rolled her over to the other side every few hours. I milked out her mother and hand fed her colostrum from a bottle. In the meantime, trying to fit in other property work and the animals, as it was while my husband was away working, I was also web searching her symptoms, only to come up with wry-neck. I rang a goat specialist vet in Melbourne, who when I told her what was wrong and described the sick kid, asked me if I really wanted to try to save her. She had no solution, but said to massage the neck as I was doing and to keep going with the colostrum.

Devastated, watching her move her little hooves and her eyes, she was just so helpless and really, so was I. I decided the only option was to put her down. She could not enjoy life paralyzed the way she was. Her sister wasn’t in a very good way either, although she could walk, she wasn’t improving, she could not suck from her mother and I was caring for both of them.  I could not bring myself to do it that day however. I have had to put down many animals on the property that are too injured to help, but I thought I would give her just a few days, to see if there was the slightest improvement.

The first night of the 2 kids lives, I made a bed of towels and shirts in a quad tyre in the living room. I heated a hot water bottle and left them there. I set my alarm for 2am, as it was winter and this is when it gets cold. At 2am, I re heated the hot water bottle, fed them both and went back to bed at 3am with the alarm set for 5.

The next day was the same. Trying desperately for a cure for the poor black kid, and why the grey kid was so weak and sickly also. I started advertising for goat experts on the Facebook buy swap sells, saying I had a kid with a bent neck, unable to stand and if anyone had ever seen this. Amazingly, people had, some had reared the kids with the bent neck and they had eventually learned to walk, some had goats with bent necks of 4 years old! I was shocked. It was final, she would not be destroyed, if there was hope of her walking and enjoying life, I would fight for her to have that chance, even if there was no cure.

That night was the same as the night before, with a 2am feed and bottle re-heat. The next day, someone had posted that she had goat polio, and needed a B1 injection. A CURE!! I was so excited, though I didn’t have a B1 injection, and living 2hours from town, I asked the lady if it were possible to give her berocca, the soluble vitamin supplement. “Yes” was the awesome answer. So I started dissolving Berocca in the little goats bottles.

Image

By that afternoon, the little goat whom I named Reign, could put her head up.

The grey kid, whom I named Storm was getting better too. She was starting to run and jump, like a normal goat kid. Considering the does had all came from the same place, I assumed the rest could be deficient, and result in kids with the same problems. So I made up syringes of berocca and drenched the other does who had yet to kid. I did not want to have to deal with 3 more sets of twins this ill!

That night was incredible, while Storm was exploring the house with her new energy and better health, Reign started to try and sit up. She started with trying to get her legs tucked under her. I was beside myself with excitement, and sat near the tyre, wanting so much to help her, but knowing she had to do it on her own. Once she struggled with her legs, that had been starting to respond to her more and more throughout the day, and had them under her, she wanted to get up. She pushed her front legs out in front of her, and pushed herself back until she was against the tyre, then, as she pushed, her rump slid up the tyre and rested over the top. She was almost standing! Her front legs where supporting weight, while her back legs dangled. It was so incredible. I thought I would see improvements slowly, over the next couple of days. I began to cry as I stroked her. She was so amazing, her tiny body was starting to listen, and her determination pushed her to do everything in her power to live.

My 5am start the next morning, despite I was starting to feel extremely tiered, was very exciting. She had stood with her rump sitting on the edge of the tyre for her bottle at the 2am feed. I took her out into the sun after her breakfast with Storm and lay her near my guinea pig cage. Reign was at it straight away, pushing herself backwards, trying to get up. Each feed of berocca milk seemed to be improving this kid so dramatically I wouldn’t have believed it if I had not witnessed with my own eyes.

Then, that morning, 4 days old, Reign stood, unassisted. It was very emotional for me, after the long nights and toiling with if I should even try to keep her alive and trying to find what was so wrong with her.

Image

This is Reign standing. As you can see her neck is quite bent. As she learnt to walk, this often put her off balance and she would fall regularly. She would always be struggling back to her feet and trying to walk again. The improvements in Storm where also fantastic, she was drinking off her mother now, and the mother took her back as her own, despite I had kept her inside out of the cold and bottle fed her for 3 days while she was sick.

Image

Reign drinking her bottle, her twisted neck affecting her less and less with the more vitamins and strength she had.

Image

Reign and Storm with my dog, Shadrack, as they explored outside the house yard fence.

Image

As Reign grew, the bend in her neck became less pronounced. I continued to feed her berocca daily, and it was evident that she would possibly end up with the normal form of a goat.

The other goats had their kids, and although they were slow and not completely healthy, none where as sick as Reign, I gave them all a first feed of Berocca and their mothers reared them with no more complications.

As someone with plenty of goats, including 100 odd paddock goats and 20 milkers (including Reign and her siblings) I am a strong believer in supplements. For the past 4 years on our property, we never leave a paddock without a trace element lick in it so that if the animals need it they can get it. We also regularly check our stock for signs of deficiencies, something I do automatically when I see an animal in the paddock. If one animal looks B12 deficient, chances are, the others aren’t far off, and its time to muster and inject. With this drought, we have had a lot get sick due to vitamin A deficiency, with watery eyes, dull coats and bad eyesight. We have had to inject with an ADE injection into the muscle.

 ImageImage

Today, Reign is a healthy 6 month old Kid. She lives with the other goats, always friendly to us and loves attention. We are still unsure if this will have affected her fertility. I hope not, it would be nice to have little Reign kids, but even if she can never give us anything saleable for the effort put into her, she provided an invaluable learning experience. She will be allowed to live out her days with us, regardless of what she can give back.

~Breaker

Advertisements

Breaking point; from a Breaker’s point of view

When my husband and I set out on this hard working adventure to earn our own land, we were well aware of many of the hardships we would be battling. The horrendous cost of infrastructure, the task of developing the land, stocking costs as well as choosing the best breeds of sheep and cattle for the land we bought.

 

Drought, flash floods, disease and deficiencies are all things you are aware of when you have lived on the land, and you do as much as you can to prepare for the worst, while hoping for the best.

 

One thing we were not completely prepared for, was just how much the Government and the Shires would pull together to make our journey so much harder and more draining.

 

I am not 100% if all the costs we face are the same as other states, but I will give you a couple examples of the ridiculous ways the government rips off the hard working Farmer.

 

Our property had not been farmed or lived on for 20 years when we bought it, it was run down and the fences were all flat on the ground, no house and no stock yards. There was an old access road up the back of the property that we could only find on an old Google map, it possibly had not been used for 30 or more years and was definitely not accessible any more. We have to pay rent to the government of over $400 a year, on a road that is no longer there. We can buy it, after putting in an application and then paying $4000, so we no longer have to rent a road that doesn’t exist and cannot be used.

 

Another cost, in the tax on the livestock, it is about $1.50 a head per year. This isn’t the worst of it; we also have a tax on the potential stock we possibly could be running in a good season. So for the ¾ of our property that we have not yet been able to afford to fence and therefore use, we are still paying money on the livestock that could possibly be there!

 

Should I even go into the garbage collection fee in the rates, when the closest the garbage truck comes is over 60km away?

 

These are just a few little costs of injustice that we personally face, As do many farmers. The little things that make important development like laying Polly pipe for a good watering systems, near impossible. The amount of bills that come in each year, to drain us of any hope to stock up on feed when prices are low, to fence more paddocks so we can rotational graze to improve the land.

 

Often on the land, you feel you are climbing up a cliff, with no safety harness, and at the top of the cliff you have the Greens, the government and big animal welfare groups hurling rocks and boulders at you, often hitting you and making you fall back to the bottom. So many farmers are starting to give up. And why shouldn’t they? The support is getting scarcer and country troubles are being pointed at them so frequently.

 

Only yesterday did I hear of any news of the government having a plan for drought assistance. Maybe I have been too busy battling the drought to have heard earlier, but until then, I thought they had forgotten us. While helping other countries to secure allies, they had forgotten to support the legs they stand on.

 

We have been offered rebates here in NSW, $2000 for yard upgrades and $2000 for water set up to help with the drought. Its no good to us however, as we have to spend the money on the materials, then apply to get it back and it is not guaranteed. If we had $2000 to put into setting up water, we would have done it months ago.

 

So many cattle graziers and farmers are in the same boat, offered rebates, only after they have spent the money they don’t have, and given no guarantee of getting that money back, and no time frame it may be given after the application is submitted.

 

Up until 3 weeks ago, our spring fed dam was holding up well, the spring was filling it each night and our main concern was feed. However, the day I saw the dam had not risen during the night I felt my heart sink. If we run out of water, it will be over for all out current stock.  We will have to put any animals we cannot sell to sleep. And we will have to leave. There is no other option.

 

Until I saw the comments and how many followers we have on this page, I honestly thought that the rest of the population of Australia was with the government and Greens, throwing rocks at the people who provide food for their families. Now I have seen that there are people out there that not only have compassion for the sweat and tears we shed, but actually want to help. This has touched my fellow country girls and me. To know that there is someone there at the top of the cliff that will try to throw a rope, to aid the farmer that is battling the cliff of bills, heart ache, starving animals and feed costs too high to even consider.

 

The unfortunate thing is despite there is no income in the drought, when the market flops, the bills don’t stop.

 

Not only will we loose the farmers that have had to destroy all their livestock, and had nothing left. But we will lose the farmers that can no longer pay their bills, and instead of being shown understanding and compassion, they will have their land taken from them by the banks. Leaving them nothing for the years and years of hard work they have put in.

 

Thank you to everyone who is following our blog, and for the kind comments and words of encouragement.

 

I hope the drought breaks before we see another farmer fall.

 

-Breaker

Link

Save the Working dog in Victoria!

<a href="Save the Working Dog in Victoria Petition | GoPetition” title=”Save the Working dog in Victoria!”>Save the Working dog in Victoria!

Working dogs are iconic, they are Australian, and they are an irreplaceable part of farm life.

What a dog can do on four paws is more than a man on horse or bike can achieve and I know on our farm with our 9 working dogs, they are more valuable than words can express.

We love our canine mates and care for them deeply. The training Dad puts into them, the love he lavishes them with. If nothing else, the company they give us while we are doing lonely jobs on the farm-the value is above words!

And now, I have been made aware of a new ‘code of practice’ that legislates against us in so many ways! These laws if they come into effect will make criminals of every man who uses the loyal kelpie to muster his stock! It will affect the welfare of dogs in rural Aus, and destroy an icon.

Right now, they are only talking Victoria, but how long before this takes over Australia? sign and share this petition for the sake of the working dog in our country.

 

~Jillaroo

Objective Achieved

Image

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.

Image

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.

Image

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.

IMG_8677

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.

IMG_8814

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’

IMG_1576

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.

 

~Jillaroo

Introducing… A new countrygirl!! :D

Well ladies and gents, Jillaroo and Rouseabout are rather proud to announce and present the first of what might be a series of guest posts, from friends and family.

Meet Breaker, our dear friend (even though she does live in New South Wales) One tough mudder, this countrygirl is going through drought in a different way to us. Often alone on her farm, with far too much work to be done, and too little time to do it in. And unlike Jill and Rousie she doesn’t have her family close by to help with all the work She is a expert horse handler, hence the tag line, Breaker, and we hope to make her a permanent contributor to our little space, so please make her feel welcome. Image

 

 

Hi everyone. My experience as a farmer is a little different from most. My husband and I didn’t inherit our land, but instead, are in the process of buying. It’s a struggle to get even a house of your own with today’s market, let alone buy a property (even a small one like ours) and try to fence, build a house, set up water, build yards and stock the property. My husband has put everything he has into making this work, he works away for over 2 weeks of the month, then works flat out on the property to try and make a dent in the mammoth job we have to get it going.

At the moment here its a full time job feeding livestock, checking fences and frantically watching the receding dam level…

There is no grass left, very little water and the long term forecast shows no rain for at least 6 months. To sell our livestock now would be making a huge loss, but to keep them would be a far greater loss. We have no back up water, so even if we could get feed, the water issue leaves us little options.

We hope like heck the rain comes soon, that would end our water issue, and we hope it ends the water issue for all farmers. But it won’t end the feed issue, not quickly.

Even if we get 4 inches of rain tomorrow, there will still be no feed, and we will have to continue to provide feed. And a week after that, when all the green pick starts coming through, most of the animals will lose even more weight as they run around trying to get all the new shoots of grass to restore the vitamins lost during the drought. There’s no quick fix for a long, heart wrenching drought. But some good steady rain to soak the ground and fill the dams would end this week beautifully

~Breaker

Married to a Raincloud.

So, I’m sitting on top of a tank, pumps going beneath my feet and I’m watching the water as it sloshes into the tank. My hands are dry from the mud that I work in, my face is sunburnt, and my shoulders are sore from lifting the pumps and pipes around. (My foot is pretty sore too, because it seems I am continually dropping the pump on it these days)

Just in front of me the hopeful structure of our big windmill stands tall, still semi-naked the blades are only half on, and Dad will be down later to install more piping deep into the ground to find the water.

Surrounding this scene is maybe 100 head of cows and calves, thirsty and hungry, watching me with big expectant eyes, they know that I am bringing water with me when I come. I can almost hear them asking me to share the licorice I am chewing on… yes cows like licorice, so do horses incidentally, but today I’m not sharing.

 

I’ve been thinking long and hard about what to write next on our blog and I keep coming back to water. Maybe its because thats what my life is revolving around at the moment. Water-which cows have it, which cows need it, and where am I going to get my next load from. cripes our dams are so empty right now-there is only one left to take water from and its not going to last much longer.

We need rain so badly its hard to put in words.

 

But I’ve come up with a theory, bear with me while I take you for a walk around my mind.

I’m 24 years old, I’m a farm kid and dirty most of the time, if there is any mud to be had I’m likely to be covered in it.

But I’m also single, and at an age where it seems many of my friends are settling down, changing Facebook status to ‘in a relationship’ getting married and some even having children,
My mother despairs over me, she tells me she was married with kids at my age, and plenty of people have plenty of advice and opinions on why I’m single and how to fix the ‘problem’

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining! And I’m not unhappy, and I certainly don’t need anymore people reading this and giving me advice about it..

I also do have a point here..

See my dad always says, if you just knew when ‘The One’ was going to come you wouldn’t worry about it nearly so much, (unless you were creepy and desperate and booked the wedding venue cakes and flowers 3 years in advance)
 You would cease to worry about the ‘what if it doesn’t happen’ and be able to better prepare for the when it does. You might budget your time better, focus a bit more on other things, maybe travel more in the time you are single, and do other things that you might otherwise not consider while waiting and worrying about location and timing of the when will it happen.

 

But we don’t know, so (us girls at least) spend time worrying about it, biting our nails and doing our hair-just in case we meet him today! 0_o  And then you finally meet him and in hindsight a lot of the things you did while waiting now seem silly, and you can see the mistakes you made, (and all too often you go around giving unwarranted advice to others about how being single is waaaaay better anyway-seriously? some people are so not qualified to give that kind of advice) 
I digress..

 

Now at this point I have a couple of really good friends who will be rolling their eyes and shaking their heads at me, not naming names but you know who you are..

But I think, maybe waiting on rain is a little similar in some ways. Obviously it is much more heartbreaking and serious, I’m not comparing the two ideas. But we worry huge amounts about the rain, when will it fall, what if it doesn’t. we bite our nails to the quick and work til our hands bleed.

But we also make bad choices, relying on rain to come sooner, we buy a months worth of feed rather than 6 months, and then at the end of the month we curse the empty skies and must buy more feed at dramatically increased cost. Some say its bad business, and our own fault, but without a faith in rain falling soon, however could we go on? Or if we buy 6 months worth of cattle feed, and it rains next week, how do we store the rest? can we store the rest?

Wouldn’t it be so good if at the beginning of each year you recieved a calendar from the heavens with days marked with big red X’s and on those days the rain would fall, you could budget and plan, and it would all be ok. But we don’t know, and we cannot know, so, its like waiting on ‘Mr Right’ to appear.

I hear some people talking about being married to their jobs, or lifestyles or iPhones, or whatever.

But My dad, well actually my whole family right now.. We are married to a rain cloud, and waiting for her to come is painful beyond belief. Heartbreaking, heartrending, and at times it seems like it will never happen and we will be in drought forever.

The desperation eats at your heart, and sears scars into your mind and emotions that will never go away. A few days time will be the 2 year anniversary of the neighbor who hung himself in his shed, the sound of a lone rifle shot while dad is at the shed late at night desperatly trying to fix a machine we need to feed cattle, These things haunt my dreams. They wake me up at night. Those who have been in drought will understand.

 

But I know, that in time, our bride will come! The rain will fall, and graziers all around will dance in the clean fresh air. And if tears mingle with the drops of rain falling on their faces, nobody will care.

The grass will grow back, the cattle that survive will enjoy a fresh pick. And somehow, the men and women who pioneer our great harsh land, will find in themselves to continue, even though right now, many wish they were anywhere but here. Some will not have made it, some will leave, some have already gone. But those who remain will see reward for their hard work, and broken hearts.

 

I hope, that when the rain falls, we will still be here, I hope that my family is able to stay until the rain falls, and I hope, that when it does nobody is around taking photos of me, while I dance barefoot in the puddles.

 

~Jillaroo

Please Sir, I want some more…

How on earth can we say that after all that we have been given already.. It sounds so ungrateful..

Allow me to explain, the last couple of days has seen our family inundated with gifts, help, and most of all encouragement!
From emails and prayers from friends and strangers, gifts of huge amounts of food for our family-flour, fruits, veges, even handcream for our dry and cracked skin, a man who drove 660km round trip to deliver a small VW truckload of lucerne hay-specially instructed to be fed to our cows only, (the milking cow is having a ball, thankyou sir!) to the 7 men who just left today after working their hearts out in 40+ temperatures to give us what we most desperately need right now.

WATER!!

These 7 men, and others drove as far as 5 hours to be with us for a few days, working as hard as men can to build what is becoming jokingly known as the biggest windmill in the southern hemisphere. 50 feet high, over a 1800 meter deep artesian bore.

We have had this bore for ever, but it has never been particularly useful, and flows only just enough water each day to give a drink to 46 cows. We have been carting water from our drying dams trying to give everyone a drink. But now, with this windmill, standing tall about our bore, still not fully equipped yet, but within 3 weeks at most, it will be providing enough water to slate the thirst of 500 plus head of cattle, plus sheep, and native wildlife such as kangaroos and emus.

Our house dam is now empty, and Dad is today working to change the supply to another dam, which is only slightly less dry, soon I will go out and get in a truck to cart water to more thirsty dying cattle, my sister will pick up and go to work mixing feed for the cattle in a hot and dusty shed-a long sweaty job, my little brother will pick up his rifle and go searching for cattle in distress. My brother in law is here, doing mechanical repairs that Dad does not have the time for at the moment

But for now, we are sitting, on the verandah in the shade, eating cake and biscuits made for us with so much love, laughing and sharing stories about the antics, the jokes, wondering at the gifts, our spirits are high, despite water and feed levels being so very low.

It is the most amazing thing to know, and to feel, that people we hardly know, care so much for us. They suffer with us, and celebrate with us too.

The Windmill standing tall in the sun, is going to be a permanent reminder of the love and affection given to us by these wonderful people, the ones who came and worked on it, sunburnt, hot, thirsty and sore, and those who sent gifts of food, cooked a meal for us, sent a letter or a card, or said a quick prayer for us.

So far the mill is bare, it has not yet got its wheel spinning around, but when it does..

It will pump hope up out of dry barren earth, and remind us forever of love from unlikely places..

When we stand and say, we want some more, it does not mean we are being greedy, because we are so full! But it simply means we look forward to the rain that will fall one day-hopefully soon, but until then, we find ourselves encouraged and energised to go and fight some more.

We are still in drought, and we are still struggling, and until it rains, our dams are still dry, our paddocks are still empty. There is so much work still to be done, but we are humbled by the help, and this is one little step towards preventing thirst in the future.

For now, we turn our faces to God, hold out our overflowing bowls, and say ‘Please Sir, we want some more… rain that is’

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

The Bright Side of Life

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!

~ Rouseabout

Link

New Facebook page!

New Facebook page!

Woo Hoo, ok everyone, we have finally finished our face book page, so invite you all to like the page and keep updated of new blog posts, and also the photos that we will be sharing in the future!!

Send us a message if you want to, we will try to reply to each one if we can.. But bear in mind we are working girls on big cattle and sheep farms so it might take a day or two to get back to you…

If you have a question about farm life or something you would like to see addressed in our blog let us know, and we will do our best.

Cheers and have fun all 🙂

~Jillaroo