Farmer whose rain gauge only fills with red dirt reveals how her family had to sell everything to survive in the drought
- Kate Stokes is still checking her rain gauge – although it is always full of dirt
- She said it is impossible to maintain her family property in Mulga Downs, QLD
- The mother of two had to sell animals, including her father's esteemed breeding cows
- Queensland in the grip of a paralyzing drought that covers 66 percent of the state
It's a windy afternoon when Kate Stokes walks out of her farm door and heads for the official rain gauge at the back of the house.
It is an absurd routine. She knows there is no water in it. But it is sometimes interesting to see how much red dirt flows out.
& # 39; It's good to be optimistic, but it's just not raining. We cannot support anything, & says the young mother of the Mulga Downs estate of her family, seven hours west of Brisbane.
So far this year, the meter has caught only 36 mm. To put that in perspective, the figure was 147 mm for the entire past year when the drought bites hard enough.
In an average year, the extended property should be nearly 400 mm, figures show dutifully recorded by the Bureau of Meteorology.
Queensland farmer Kate Stokes (pictured with three-month-old son Tom) said she regularly checks her rain gauge
The last time Mulga Downs had a soaked time was 2016 and since then life has been a series of difficult decisions.
Initially this meant that no fodder crops had to be put in the ground for the cattle that her family usually exploits on Mulga Downs and two other properties in the drought-stricken region.
Then there was a call to sell most of their sheep and to give up the lambs they wore because there was not enough growth in the paddocks to support them.
In the end, the decision was made to sell the esteemed herd of brood cows from her father, the one he had spent most of his life carefully refining their physical traits and temperament.
& # 39; Almost his entire life – 40 years – of managing cattle, picking and keeping what he wanted to be his desirable herd. And he finally had to sell them all. & # 39;
Mrs. Stokes has revealed that her family is forced to sell cattle, including her father's esteemed breeding cows, only to survive the crippling drought
Kate & # 39; s father Peter Cookson is frank about the loss of his herd, but he is sure that discharging them was the right thing for him and his adult children who run their three properties.
He saw his cozier friends and neighbors bend under the pressure of trying to keep some of their herds in the belief that if it rains, this will put them at the forefront and get money in the door quickly.
But for Peter the thought of that pressure was just too much.
& # 39; It was really disappointing to lose that, but when it came down to it, I decided not to commit too much to those cows & # 39 ;, says the third generation farmer and grazier.
& # 39; I'd rather my family not live in a state of fear. It was a good decision for our personal health. It was really hard work, and it was knocking on us. & # 39;
Peter is an optimist by nature. He has previously had to deal with savage drought and knows that he can come back from them.
& # 39; It will storm again in our country and the monsoon starts. We want to be optimistic and that is me. & # 39;
But it's a cautious optimism.
& # 39; Some of these drying times last longer. We have to be more careful. & # 39;
Queensland is in the midst of a paralyzing drought, covering 66 percent of the state (photo: Kate Stokes and her children Josie, 18 months and Tom, three months)
The decision to break out, but for a few hundred sheep that are now fed with cotton seed scooped from the back of a trailer, reflects his respect for the land that his family has been maintaining for generations.
He is encouraged by the latest federal government relief measures announced this week, including interest-free loans that will allow him to top up when the air finally opens.
But he also says that more could have been done earlier to really make a difference for families like him.
He says that the loan arrangements announced this week may have saved him from selling his herd of cows if they had been made available earlier.
& # 39; Yes, they could have moved earlier, and I think everyone has seen that. But I'm glad they do it now.
& # 39; It used to be better, but you can't change anything about it. & # 39;
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