Our Drought… funny old weather

Mother Nature is a funny old beast, isn’t she?  Most of you know that I generally adore Her… most of my images, I think, share that admiration on a daily basis.

However, lately, I am feeling a little less… generous.  She giveth, but she also taketh away. And at the moment, her sense of humour eludes me.

An old neighbour of ours almost always used to begin a conversations with the line “Funny weather, eh?”.  It used to make me giggle.  He passed last year, and I wonder if he is looking over us all, shaking his head at the weather his old stomping ground is now experiencing.

For the past two years here, we have had summer floods.

Enormous, strand-us-for-weeks, wash-the-roads-away type floods.  (Honestly, click on those links. It was amazing.)chopper_8547 eThis photo taken almost EXACTLY 12 months ago – more chopper photos in this post.

This summer, it forgot to rain.  Pretty much at all.  Summer is when it HAS to rain here.  We don’t really get winter rains.  And as each week goes by with nothing in the rain guage, we feel that extra pull down, that loose dirt under our feet as we begin to slide from the edges of drought into it’s central vortex.

I don’t know if it’s possible to ‘get’ what rain means to primary production properties like ours. It’s pretty much our lifeblood.

dry_1283 e

I’m not even sure my photos will truly do justice to the contrast rain can make to a landscape and, by extention, to our lives* and livelihoods.

But I’ll try.
This time last year, my views were a little like this:

Our River, full to the brim.

river_9554This is what it looks like at almost capacity.  Less than 10 months ago.

river_9564 eAugust 2012

roads_9149 eSeptember 2013

roads_9147 e


And below, the same spot this week…

dry_1346And as you can see the river is pretty wide and has dropped around 3-4 metres.

dry_1348 e Keep in mind we are about 14 km upstream of a dam wall … imagine how much water that is GONE in the last 12 months…

roadsky_0192 eA paddock in our scrub country, taken March 2013.

dry_1177 eSame paddock (looking opposite direction) now.

rain_7604March 2013 at ‘Double Dams’

dry_0714 eA week ago.

dry_1048 eYesterday.

grass_0489April 2013

dry_1276 eLast Sunday.

steer_8918March 2013

dry_1075 eThis week.

For us, our ‘wet season’ is usually Summer – December and January usually bring maybe 60-70% of our annual rainfall.

dry_1063 eThis year, we have had a heavy shower in early December. And that’s pretty much it.

dry_0706 eWe have some bulk of grass left in some paddocks.

dry_1275 eBut then others look like this.

dry_1299 eWe are very, very lucky that our cattle have great constitutions and are not really showing too much sign of stress yet.

dry_0711 eBut we know it’s only a matter of time, if it keeps refusing to rain.

dry_1233 eThey will stick close to water, and will need to be ‘encouraged’ to chase the dry grass. (I will cover our strategies to handle the drought the next post).

forecastOur forecasts are not giving us much confidence at the moment… this weekend looks like the best chance of rain we’ve got for a month.

forecast1 e

And 80% chance of 1-5mm will not settle the dust. Even if it does eventuate, which it has failed to the last 5 weeks it has been forecast.

I have stopped looking at forecasts.  It’s worse than looking longingly at actual clouds!

A sense of humour might be tricky to find when this kind of weather settles in, but I reckon it’s absolutely ESSENTIAL to cope with it.

_0659Watching my son weave a fantasy at the back of a dusty mob usually makes me smile though…

This next scenario tested our humour almost a little too much…

hay_0854 eA much anticipated load of precious hay – earmarked for our calves which we plan to wean next month.

Our neighbours found THIS in the hayshed a couple of days later…
hay_1010 eApparently THESE cows thought those bales smelled MUCH nicer than their dry old grass. And LEANED on the fence til it gave way.

dry_1016eNaughty girls!

For the humans trying to mentally survive this slow, insidious cancer that drought is, when days are spent looking at THIS…dry_0723 e

…it’s really important thing is some GREEN around the house.  I have a theory about green.  It’s vital to the human soul. To the souls I know, anyway.  It helps keep us sane.

We are so lucky to have bore water that enables us to keep our houseyard and a little patch outside in the horse paddock, a bit greener than the au natural paddocks.


Pic above taken around April 2013, below just 10 months later.

dry_1124 e

I have to admit, while I do take some pride in our lawn (Lord knows I cannot garden to save myself) I find it hard to get cranky at the enterprising cows that ‘break in’ to the houseyard to try the green pick for themselves.

dry_1026 eWho can blame them really. I usually let them have half an hour or so before shooing them out.

It’s just lawn fertiliser they leave behind, right?

And while we work hard to ease the load on our precious grass – as dry as it is – and swallow the dust and the falling prices for our cattle, we will keep trying to maintain our sense of humour.  Perhaps a naked rain dance could be in order  – although we will try to keep the photos off Facebook. (Check the link, it will make sense I promise!).

And we will try to ignore that Mother Nature is giving us THIS sign….rain_7785Until she feels like smiling on us again, with one of these.

rainbow_0342 e;-)

*Please keep in mind that this depicts our situation and does not represent anyone else – certainly not our region or our state. Everyone’s experiences are different and I am well aware that places out west did not even get proper rain during our 2011/12 and 2013 floods. Our hearts ache for them, and we know what they have now is possibly yet ahead of us.

12 Responses to “Our Drought… funny old weather”

  1. Although I don’t like the comparisons you do a great job of showing and telling it how it is for you.

    Now I must go and perfect that rain dance.
    Fleur McDonald´s last blog post ..Guest blog: Reach for the Dream

  2. This is heartbreaking.

    I know how difficult it is with just our tiny little herd when the summer scorches our pasture. I can’t even imagine things on YOUR scale!! You did make me smile with the break-in to your hay. I remember an incident we had once with marauding cows and donkeys. I believe I referred to them as having a “hey/hay day” of a grand time before things were righted.

    I pray you’ll soon get much needed relief.
    Kelly´s last blog post ..Trumpet….or is it Tuba?

  3. Well done – the comparison of the paddocks and the dams (’13/’14). Actually as you say – on the heart wrenching side.
    Really can’t blame the cattle for the “invasion” of the house lawns, horse paddock and the full frontal attack on the hay shed fence.
    Here, Albion (BNE), I think a flock of night birds with full bladders flew over and “peed” together on the street!
    Yes, Fleur, practice a VERY Frenzied rain dance of Banshee proportions, that just might work – please don’t have yourself videoed! AND GOOD LUCK.

    • Well someone has danced like a frenzied banshee!!! A quite heavy storm hit here (BNE) – lasted 20 minutes – more than a lot of bladder laden night birds could drop and moved in a north-westerly direction. Looks and sounds like a follow up. Hopefully you got some up there, Amanda and further out west. One can but hope, so now back to that
      “rain dance routine” – altogether, one – two -three and GO!

  4. Well as I woke up this morning it was raining, it is raining in the tropical north and every time it does I hope it manages to push over the mountains and continue inland. Even here though (I’m not familiar enough with the weather yet) seems as though the wet hasn’t been as wet as it should be. Maybe we need to have a national rain dance day??? I love the photos, the comparisons. I agree, that colour green is soothing for the soul or something, the knowledge that is means health and growth and food. Surprisingly I also love seeing the golden brown colours covering the land but only when there has been green or will be green. I hope that even the small amount predicted for the weekend happens.
    Anne@GritandGiggles´s last blog post ..Saint Paddy’s Day

  5. Nature is fickle isn’t it? We can have floods one year then nothing the next. Hoping that it rains for you sooner rather than later. Love the photos showing the comparisons too.
    Jen´s last blog post ..A poem about ‘The Rabbits’ book

  6. Those pictures really bring the point home. I continue to pray.
    debby´s last blog post ..Nice Weekend

  7. I hear you Amanda. We are in the same situation – no summer rains and desperately dry all through our district; animals running out of feed and water and the vortex of drought sucking us all in. May substantial rain fall shortly bringing with it hope and renewal for the love of our country.
    Mandy´s last blog post ..A Country Girl’s Handbag

  8. Nancy in Savannah Reply March 21, 2014 at 2:45 am

    Every time it rains here I wish I could send some of it your way. In fact, I wish you could have had all the rain that we had on St. Patrick’s Day when Savannah was hostess to thousands of folks watching the parade.

    I applaud your kindness, Amanda, in letting the “sneaky” cows have some time with the house yard!

  9. If I were as dry as you are; I would be dancing every day, yelling at the stars from tree tops, calling granny to ask what the moon phases are, and photos are always a grand way to record these humble requests but as you suggest maybe some of them should just be kept for family history of just how much you needed rain in2014.
    Oh yes, nice cowboy hat.

  10. My heart stretches across wide wide oceans and many island chains to reach you so far away. We in California are suffering a drought as well and the rainy season this year brought us two small storms only. It’s over and we are likely not to see anymore until the first of the year. May the weather smile upon us all…
    Lynda M Otvos´s last blog post ..Go Outside Every Single Spring Day

  11. Any relief brought your way this week Amanda?
    33 mil here which has been most welcome, but doesn’t compare to the inches that have fallen in some places … and the much less than that in others.
    It’s going to be a very long year with the combination of drought and a depressed market!
    Fiona´s last blog post ..Same Old, Same Old

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