Dorothea McKellar certainly captured our great land perfectly in her poem, we can all extremes in one day across the land, drought, bushfire, floods, as we have seen recently.
And while I would not call this a drought (yet) , we've certainly had no rain to speak of here in the past couple of months, a few showers here and there. None of the usual wet season stuff. Old timers have said that the wet is traditionally after January, but even so we've always managed to get under some storms before that point. Storms have been very very scattered around the district.
And so comes the forward planning. Places to the west, perhaps leaving things a little too long in anticipation of The Wet or better prices, have made the decision and have fully destocked. Others making moves to do so, as the better part of the state over the Great Divide has yet to receive any sustainable rain, so there is no where to go on agistment. We have til the middle of March to move our cows from the downs agistment paddock (unless it rains and then its all good) as the owner of that place makes plans to protect himself. At the in-laws property, water stocks in the dams (more like lakes) are getting low and discussions are underway to put a bore down (possibly something that should have been down years ago) but like my husband says, by the time the two lakes are dry, there will be no grass anyhow.
At my parents place, lucky enough to get under the few storms, so the grass is looking not too bad for now. Water however is an issue and again big dams have gone dry. The windmill powered bore that has been so since day dot, has not been keeping up with demand and so has forced the need to install submersible pump and generator to keep water supplies in front of the cattle (There is an old pump jack at the bore, from memory, so perhaps it was driven by that back in the 70's when there was an awful drought?!)
At our place the three small (and never year round anyhow) dams are completely dry and we rely completely on one bore suppling the network of poly pipe. The cattle are looking pretty good, as they've only just gone back into the paddocks that had been burnt in 2011. We have our "bush country" spare, requiring 5km of fencing to make secure. More poly pipe has been ordered as insurance, fearing should the bore break down we'd really be in trouble and the extra poly pipe could bring a "spare", currently unused bore, into the network within a few hours.
So, despite the need to tighten the belt with a possible drought on our hands, everyone has to face increased expenditure to improve infrastructure, to transport cattle. Selling cattle when prices aren't optimum to do so, but better to have at least cash in hand than a starving animal. Stress levels are high, as people struggle with decisions and choices to look after their land and livestock and financial security.
In brighter news, meet Tealeaf:
Newest kid on the block, his bottle-teated mother (go on, ask!) was "accidentally" put on the truck to the meatworks as they thought she'd lost her calf. Nope, she didn't, but his days would have been numbered in his mothers care. Here the little fellow has an insatiable appetite, putting away 9 LITRES of milk a day!! (certainly more than the back of the milk powder bag recommends!).
Tealeaf is the offspring of TeaBag (aka Hazeldean Earl Grey, but we don't stand on ceremony around here!) and is a quiet natured little soul, with a huge frame to grow into. No wonder he's so hungry! He's learning the ropes, and hanging with the big kids, and finding out mum isn't so keen on having him camping out at the back steps waiting for another feed.
And if you want to see how glorious good rain can make both cattle and country, do go over to Fiona's and have a look.