Voice of Real Australia: Hope is where the heart is - and that's at home

A Dorper ewe with twins at foot at our property south of Roma over the weekend.
A Dorper ewe with twins at foot at our property south of Roma over the weekend.

Is it still dry at your place? It is at ours but it's sure been good to see some good falls around.

We've been drought declared at our sheep and cattle property outside Roma in south west Queensland for more years than I care to remember.

Things are getting pretty grim now - the feed regime is relentless and expensive and the wait for some sort of relief is a killer.

Yet amid all the challenges there is much to be optimistic about. We are currently lambing and calving out the few breeding stock we have left.

The sight of newborn lambs and calves playing in the bare paddocks is bittersweet. There is so much hope for next season wound up in those young stock, yet if rain doesn't come in time we'll be looking at Plan X - yet another offload of sheep and cattle and more money on feed.

The kids have been busy feeding orphaned lambs.

The kids have been busy feeding orphaned lambs.

We (ok the kids are doing all the work) are currently feeding about 15 poddy lambs. Even in a normal season we'll end up with a handful of lambs whose mothers either died or walked away from them for some reason.

But in drought you get more. Mothers with twins might leave one behind to save the other and they lose them trying to walk further to feed in the paddocks.

It's not economical to feed them all but I think there some sort of therapy in it for my husband. To find them on the brink of death in the paddock and bring them home to be pampered and raised to good health.

Long after they are weaned they hang around the house, becoming beloved pets and growing old, fat and happy. They also make great sprint trainers!

Inside the house yard all the normal rhythms of family life must continue despite the drought.

Kids' sport still runs on Saturday, the housework must still be done, birthdays will come and go, the garden needs us now more than ever and the beers are still cold on a Friday afternoon.

These things are important because they give you the strength to get back up and feed again the next morning. They are the things that give you hope.

Our garden is our sanctuary.

Our garden is our sanctuary.

That's how it is for many of the families featured in 100 Stories of Hope - a very special publication inserted into today's Queensland Country Life, The Landand Stock & Land.

This fabulous 48-page lift-out features exactly 100 stories on the farmers, business owners and community members who are managing through this unprecedented natural disaster.

Bill and Hannah McKillop, Cunnamulla, Queensland

Bill and Hannah McKillop, Cunnamulla, Queensland

We've got people like Bill and Hannah McKillop who moved from NSW to Cunnamulla in southwest Queensland two years ago after purchasing a sheep property. They bought in the middle of a drought thinking things would turn around quickly and while it's been tough going, the McKillops have got on with the job of improving the productivity of their property through a Landcare project.

And don't miss the incredible story of Kevin and Gina Feakins who were driven from their farm in the United Kingdom by the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease only to find themselves facing drought in NSW before finally settling on a farm on the south coast of Victoria.

Kevin and Gina Feakin

Kevin and Gina Feakin

All these stories and more will also appear online on the websites of those mastheads up until the end of January.

We're also running a competition for readers to submit a photo that best captures 'hope' with a $5000 cash prize for first place. To enter simply fill out this form at the bottom of this story.

So make sure you go grab a copy of Queensland Country Life, Stock & Land or The Land today and join us and our special partner, Westpac, in celebrating 100 stories of resilience, inspiration and hope.

Penelope Arthur

ACM's National Agricultural News Editor

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