The folder said “Totally Screwed” or so it seemed!
I am a creature of emotion I can be as tough as needed all the while I can be crying on the inside, sometimes however, I can’t always suck it up, but I do know how to file it away.
For the past decade until the flooding rains of January 2010 heralded the hope ofbetter times, I have lived with drought, its implications to my family, my friends and my community. It is only now I can bear to look back on how our crops looked, the expression on my husband’s face in pictures, and revisit a time where nothing felt certain and knowing there were always people worse off than me I wondered how many of us would make it to better times. Sadly these pictures also reminds me of friends I can no longer visit because the pain of drought was too much to bear and they ended their suffering only to increase that of their family and friends. Suicide leaves a scar oneveryone, it is the ultimate reminder of how proud Australian farmers are, and the ultimate price they are willing to pay. Before you judge, imagine being a 3rd generation farmer, you have heard all the stories of how the farm was built up, generation by generation added to its value, you might have ven bought out a few neighbours and you handed it on to your son DEBT free. Now it has been handed down to you and now look what’s happened because of drought, you have failed, when everyone before you kept the farm going. So here you are, you have a BDouble of pride and can’t ask for help and then one day it all gets too much and the only way out you see is, what you would do to a sheep when it issuffering, a bullet to the head!
So Hence the folder “Totally Screwed” This contains images of my farm life, nothing out of the ordinary really except that most of them stand as a reminder of times we have no rush to repeat.
For many of us women it was a time when we worried about our men folk and encouraged them to attend every mens night known to man ( or us women) to save their mental health, we learn’t once you got men together and talking a good result often followed. I recall actually at times making my husband angry so he would go just to shut me up.. He thanked me a while ago, said they were some of the best arguments we have ever had. Nobody likes to be reminded they may be depressed when they are depressed!
In the Wimmera not all of us experienced the kind of drought you might see on 60 minutes, because my kind of drought wasn’t
so camera friendly. Mr & Mrs Non Farma may not be able to recognise that the crop that just covers your anklesshould be up to your waist when shown on TV! The media liked to portray starving stock and
drifting soils on a barren landscape. We don’t run stock and because ourfarming practises are minimal tillage our soil didn’t drift as much as conventional methods.
“We did not go to the wall like so many people we know, we just leant against it and banged our
head at times.”
I don’t blame the media for missing us out, I applaud the constant reporting
they did of the drought and the subsequent recovery period which for many will
be as long as the drought itself. Farmers are mainly rich in resources,
machinery and infrastructure and not cash. A good example of that is the many
cattle stations now under financial hardship in just one month of the live
cattle export being stopped. SO imagine Joe & Joan average farmer after 10
I would never wish the past decade on anyone, for me it has
been an experience which has at times has broken my heart but in the same breath
strengthen my spirit and resolve. Our family farming partnership has survived
many challenges the greatest being the loss of my nephew in a car accident while
in New Zealand. I had to tell my extended family that their
son was not coming home, when you have spoken those words to a mother and
father about their son, there is little you can compare the experience and pain
with. So from those words on, for me the drought faded into something
insignificant. It was then I realised no matter what happened to us, we would survive. . Drought took me to the end of
my rope, challenged my family, but the one thing it did not do was break us down or tear us apart.
So now that folder marked “ Totally screwed” just might be renamed to “ Not Screwed Now”
Depression can affect anyone at any