Farmers are a stoic breed, used to the dry spells that characterise their profession and determine their future, and the weather is never far from their minds.
How are you? “Yeah, not bad. Could use a drop of rain though.”
What have you been doing? “Ah, not a lot. Dry innit?
How are the cattle faring? “Pretty good. Wouldn’t mind some green tucker.”
And what about the grass? “Dryin’ off. Nothin’ two inches of rain wouldn’t fix.”
They talk little about the drought that most always stalks them.
This is a snapshot of our rolling rainfall chart for the last twelve months:
Don’t worry too much about the numbers, just look at the colours. Blue means we were having a good season, green normal, brown dry and grey desperate. It shows how sudden and severe this current drought has been – slamming us with its brutal winds and searing temperatures over summer, and its heart-wrenching lack of rain.
Last week the Bureau of Meteorology predicted widespread soaking rains. The rural sector went nuts: prices jumped 20c/kg in the saleyards, the air was either filled with smoke (as people did hazard reduction burns) or dust (as others took to the tractors to plough paddocks) and a friend rang offering us his boat should we be flooded in. All on the promise of rain.
On Friday night it seemed the world went quiet, holding its breath in anticipation of reviving rain.
And on Saturday Hughie sent her down:
85mm at Mum’s place on the coast
25mm on the parched plains of Walgett
38mm on the Grawin opal fields
63mm at Kourmala in QLD
62mm in central NSW
164mm in Sydney
And 19mm at Rocky Springs
So, sorry Mick, we won’t be needing the boat, but 19mm might just jump-start us into spring; get some of those medics motoring and begin to fill that big black sponge we call our basalt soil. We’ll take all the wet stuff we can get.
To all of you who need it, may the promise of rain be soon upon you once again.
Now tell me Mob – how much rain did you get?