Reflecting on the drought in NSW

Reflecting on the drought in NSW

No rain to start new growth

The north west rural area of Barwon Chaplaincy which I cover has been hardest hit. Most of the stock has been sold or cut back to the best breeding stock.

Debt is mounting and bills are too often in the $5000 to $10,00 range.  The changes in income effect sending children to school.  Many are in boarding schools because it is too far to travel. School fees mount up unpaid, to the point where they are excluded from sport, then outings then asked to leave.

The land is still ‘screaming’ from the ferocious Sir Ivan bushfire (in 2017) which tore through western NSW. Still 18 months after the fire ‘spread like the blitz’, trees lie broken were they fell. There is no life. The heat melted PVC pipes beneath the ground, water lost from tanks as they melted or used to fight the fire. No rain to start new growth.

I see the signs of mental health issues; the feelings of anger, failure, frustration a sense of helplessness as funds go off shore not back into areas we need it now.

But God if you just let it rain!

Uniting Church Rural Chaplain, Rev. Phill Matthews

The Reality of Drought

The sun is setting, it’s cold, it’s quiet and oh so dusty.

A breeze picks up the fine dust and off it goes.  We have become a dust bowl. It’s quiet because most of the stock are gone.

Those that are left don’t talk anymore: they just stand in their boredom and thinness and wait for the next feed.  There’s nothing to graze because it’s all just dead dirt – so they don’t walk anymore.

The beauty of the night sky is unsurpassed –and then you look down again.

And here come the kangaroos to take out the last remaining vestige of green. Poor things – but there are hundreds of them everywhere.

The wild cats are very visible now – you can see for miles as there is nothing growing – so many trees are dying out there. The cats sit under the water trough and wait for the birds to come for their drink – then it’s all over for the bird.  That’s nature handling things I suppose.

Then there’s the humans in this drought: Some have lost their jobs, others have lost their helpers.

This will be the second year without a crop here – it’s much worse further north of us where the dry has lasted for about 5 years.  No income.

It’s sad and lonely sometimes.  I am not going to use that other word – but it takes its toll you know. It seems endless. Unforgiving.

You get bored feeding day after day for months on end and you become stale.

When you run out of water –as so many have – it’s getting pretty grim.

You have to tone down your normal life. Fewer trips to town: the roads are so rough now, the stones have been unearthed and the wear on vehicles is costing too much. Fuel too expensive. Not many around anyway to have a yarn – all too busy feeding or too tired.

We will come good again – it will rain and the strong ones will survive.

It really is all up to God – I wonder does he need a hearing aid?

Carolyn Lyons OAM, Gulargambone 

Stand with our farming families

I was with some local farmers speaking to them about how the drought is impacting them, and others they know and will share as follows.

Perhaps the greatest impact of a drought is the time it takes. The slow grind of season after season with little or no rain, less and less green pastures and a slowly shrinking supply of water, where large dams are reduced to puddles. It is waking up every day, week after month after year, to dry and dead paddocks, stretching in every direction. The psychological torment of being helpless before the stranglehold of ongoing lack of rain.

One family in our community have been on their farm for 61 years and this is the first time they have ever needed to sell all of their stock, everything gone. Now they need to somehow continue to pay their living expenses while saving the money from their sale in order to restock when there is pasture in their paddocks again. Some of the larger land owners say there is not much financial aid would help them, for example our church’s annual budget would only cover one month of one farm’s stock feed. However, some personal care would be very well received. A team to relieve labour would be amazing: a break, even a weekend away/house sitting, would mean the world.

The most helpful way to approach this problem would be to get really creative, and commit to the long haul. A grand gesture of a string of trucks laden with hay makes a great photo opportunity, but in a week’s time when that is all eaten, how can we continue to stand with our farming families and let them know we haven’t forgotten them and that we genuinely care?

Phoebe Neil, Curlewis

Pray for our rural brothers and sisters 

  • Pray for those communities in rural and remote NSW and individuals affected by the drought.
  • Pray for volunteers, ministers, lay preachers who are involved in assisting those in distress.
  • Pray for our Synod Disaster Recovery Chaplains offering assistance to individuals affected by drought.
  • Pray for drought relieving rain where it is needed most.
  • Use the Moderators Prayers in your Church services

Support the Moderator’s Drought Appeal

Click here for details on how you can support the community in need, through the Moderator’s Appeal.

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