The Effects of Drought

03rd Sep 2019

Record low rainfall has now produced our worst drought we have experienced. We aren’t alone, alarmingly the drought is very wide spread. Our decision to sell most of our cows in February this year was worthwhile. We have allowed our farm to rest until the drought breaks. We are still running very small numbers of sheep (to eat), goats (mohair for the saddlery), horses, bulls and only 12 heifers which have just calved. We feed these animals daily. Winter although mild has just finished and our rainfall being the most valuable nutrient that mother nature supplies is only at 169 mmm for the year so far, our annual rainfall is around 800 mm.

As we head into spring and the warmer weather starts we are concerned to see how far this event will go on its downhill slide, when will it stop? Everyone in drought would of course love to know to make our decisions easier. Our dams are low and our bore water now supplies our house water.

The visual effects of drought cause anxiety, mainly because we can’t escape the daily analysis of examining our farm. We do it every day, even when we are having a good season, it’s how we farm, analysing our soil, grasses, water and our stocks condition. Although we sold our cows, we believe our soils are our major asset to our farm not the stock and we have always made it our focus. Droughts in Australia come and they are part of farming, we plan on being patient and look forward to the future on our farm "The Gums".

Our family unit is strong, we have made a big effort to keep our communication open and not get over worried about every farm issue. Our mental health is as important as our physical health. We certainly feel like we are just treading water, every day feels the same and our normal routine in out the window. But we don’t watch the sky, we don’t look up weather reports and we aren’t negative. The four of us do however look forward to the future, a future without drought. For our farm there will be change. We did sell 100 cows, so the last twenty years of our breeding herd is sold. A new direction will have to be formed.

Although there isn’t much to do in the paddocks at the moment as stock numbers are extremely low, now is the time to prepare for when it does rain. Forming a plan for pasture rejuvenation, whether its planting, fertilizing, resting or using biological products is important. Education is power when making decisions. This down time could also be used to research and study your next moves. Maintaining our farm ecosystem, grass species, ground cover and biology that we have spent many years encouraging seems so important to preserve.

Most of our time is spent in the saddlery, as there isn’t as many jobs in the paddock at the moment. The orders keep rolling in for the saddlery, which we are grateful for. Our unique style of custom manufacturing stands us in good stead. Although some of our customers are doing it tuff in the drought, others are using this opportunity to do maintenance and repairs on their gear. Some customers are using retail therapy as a distraction from the tuff conditions we are all facing.

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