Drought is draining us all on the land. Farming has temporarily become a burden rather than a passion. Our physical ability is feeling strained to keep up with the on-farm tasks and everyday feeding of livestock and carting water for their basic needs. The financial burden and commitment to pay interest on the increasing debt, upgrading water infrastructure, medical costs and general living expenses has become overwhelming. The mental anguish torments us within… wondering how we will pay that next feed bill without any income… wondering how we keep strong for our families sake… and still remain sane enough to feel grateful when the community empathises in support with us all.
I am feeling somewhat overwhelmed this morning and finding a way to clear my mind to appreciate farming life once again. Most probably due to the fact that we are out of tank water again. Why does that always happen on a weekend and at night-time just when you need a shower? Getting ready to wash up last night… and then it hits me… I really fall apart when we have no running water.
I am horrible for a moment… I unfairly speak harshly to my husband… why did he not check the tank a few days ago when I asked him. Then I feel guilty because it is not his fault that the water runs dry right at this very moment. He has so much to do every single day on the farm… tank water probably was furthest from his mind.
Fortunately, we pack up a few things and drive to my son’s place just so we can have a shower and brush our teeth last night. Lucky he is very close-by. It is frustrating when you run out of tank water on the farm. Short showers are the norm anyway and saving water in buckets as the shower water warms up, has become a habit… every drop is so very precious. No water to not only cleanse after a hard day’s work on the farm… no water to flush the toilet or wash our hands. We then revert to a few bottles of drinking water in the fridge… feeling almost wasteful to wash our hands and brush teeth this morning, with our clean drinking water.
Hoping another load of water is delivered very soon and trying to keep sane in the meantime. I am staying in the office today and avoiding anything outside. It will be good to catch up on some office work, when I get my head in the right space shortly. My poor husband will be left once again to feed and water the livestock by himself. He seems so much more resilient than me. He doesn’t freak out when we run out of water, unlike me being overcome with anxiety and worry.
So today I would like to share this photo with you… of what I will be avoiding today… the usual drought feeding ritual. As my husband sets out to feed up and satisfy these hungry cattle in an effort to keep future production on our property… these trusting animals calmly await his arrival.
Rural Reflection #10…
This photo was actually taken in July 2018 when the calves were very young and the mothers struggle a little more to be able to lactate to meet their babies nutritional needs. Now, this calf has grown up into an 8-month-old calf weaned from its mother, facing life as a replacement heifer in our herd. A heifer is a young female cow that has not born a calf. She is a beautiful Hereford calf and her registered name is SWANVALE KERRY MAID P823. She will grow into a lovely cow one day, producing calves of her very own.
I really like this photo because of the bittersweet image it depicts. It shows drought feeding which has been an emotional and physically tiring journey, but of significant importance. But it also shows a beautifully-marked calf with inquisitive trusting eyes. I also like the little twig of hay protruding from her cute little mouth, quite casually, but looking almost staged.
Despite the stress and hardship farmers suffer in this drought, the reason we keep going is an underlying passion for farming and a commitment to secure the future of the Australian agricultural industry. It is the trust that the community holds in us all through their support, mateship and empathy… that gives us the strength to persist in a tough industry. So thank you Australia for your trust and support!
Take care, Karen.
“The support you receive from others throughout life is essential.
It is like the right amount of oxygen to keep the embers of a fire glowing.”
~ Alexander Bentley, Poet