Drought from a woman’s per­spec­tive

Drought, from a woman’s per­spec­tive

North East & Goulburn Murray Farmer - - FRONT PAGE -

I WON­DER at what age my youngest child will ask ‘what’s it like to jump in pud­dles?’

He is 4 years old and is yet to see more than a cou­ple of inches fall on his soft lit­tle hair.

I have lived here a short nine years, and seen no more than three inches in one grand open­ing of the skies.

Of course, this is my nor­mal be­cause I haven’t seen the ‘great rains’ that have turned the dry dirt to grass, the swamps to fill and the cat­tle to fat­ten.

But, in fear of sound­ing greedy, I don’t want nor­mal any­more.

I want to erase the stress off my hus­band’s face and see him spend time, guilt free, with his fast-grow­ing chil­dren.

I want to be like the girl on the movies who stands, arms out­stretched, while the rain soaks her ex­hausted body.

I want to know what it feels like to walk through wild­flow. ers and then pick a vase full to brighten the house. I’m just so tired of re­lent­less blue skies.

But this is drought at its most hon­est; it goes be­yond the news broad­casts and the celebrity vis­its.

It keeps go­ing well af­ter the cam­eras have stopped rolling and the mi­cro­phone is switched off.

It is so much more than an in­ner-city res­i­dent on wa­ter re­stric­tions and see­ing a patch of their yel­low on their lawns, and it is more than giv­ing $2 at McDon­ald’s and then wor­ry­ing about burn­ing your lips on a large latte. It's let­ting tears flows af­ter see­ing a heart wrench­ing doc­u­men­tary on how a 5th gen­er­a­tion farmer has walked off his patch of dirt, a bro­ken man, curs­ing the skies.

It’s see­ing school aged kids start char­i­ties, truck com­pa­nies cart hay for free and grow­ers give their goods to those in need.

And for me, what it truly is, is hav­ing to say no to at­tend a wed­ding, a 30th or a Christ­mas gath­er­ing be­cause if you say yes, you may lose 10 breed­ing cows to a dry­ing dam.

It is open­ing your eyes to what this coun­try is deal­ing with be­yond the sub­urbs.

It hasn’t been easy, com­ing into a fam­ily busi­ness, be­ing ac­cepted and then ac­cept­ing this life as my own.

Be­ing a Vic­to­rian put me on the back foot from the be­gin­ning.

Of course I knew about drought, but where I am from in North East Victoria drought has a dif­fer­ent mean­ing.

There are sea­sons with no rain – like what they are

It’s not the weather man’s fault.

It’s not your neigh­bours’ fault for get­ting more than you, and it’s not the wa­ter birds for al­low­ing you to be­lieve a myth that their pres­ence means rain.

You can sell stock, pump wa­ter and rene­go­ti­ate that loan - but you can­not make it rain.

It is quite sim­ply, time­less and stub­born Mother Na­ture.

Love her or hate her, she rules our world and shat­ters lives.

But oh, how we love her when she does good by us.

I’m not a prayer, but I’m also not ashamed to ad­mit that I have stood un­der­neath a blue and cloud­less sky and asked for the winds to change and the earthy smell of wet ground to en­velop me.

Maybe you could join me in ask­ing Mother Na­ture to spare Aus­tralia a thought and give my hus­band time to fi­nally help me build that new gar­den.

I’m here Mother Na­ture, arms out­stretched like the girl on the movie. cur­rently ex­pe­ri­enc­ing now – but typ­i­cally, this does not mean an­i­mals dying in their hun­dreds be­cause the dam ran dry.

Rain has never meant so much to me as it does now - it’s be­come my daily wish and my con­stant hope.

It is our liveli­hood, and with­out it our chil­dren may not get the chance to con­tinue that.

And what makes it hard is there is just no one to blame and noth­ing we can do about it.

HARD TIMES: With no babysit­ters for 500 kilo­me­tres, it’s all hands on deck when it’s time to draft cat­tle. Petie Rankin is no ex­cep­tion, pic­tured here pre­pared for a day of work, baby and all.

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