Our own SCAS Chefs Matt Hayden, Adam Sinclair and Steve Clancy delivered a load of food and supplies to drought stricken farmers in the Tamworth region. Story by Matt Hayden…
After collecting non perishable food items for 10 weeks to deliver to our farmers, the day had come and we headed off from Tamworth and started to door knock on farmer’s doors. A day dedicated to saying “thank you” for everything they do.
Our first stop was at Carolyn’s place, 320 acres. Carolyn told us that she travels to a friend’s house in town to shower so she can save any water for her cows. Carolyn used to run 66 head of cattle and their calves, now she is down to 25 head, including calves. When we unwrapped the tarps from the trailers and opened the canopies of the utes, she couldn’t believe how much stuff we had. Carolyn likes to have friends over and after dropping many items off, said she can’t wait to bake for them next time they visit. Carolyn had lived on the farm for about 20 years and this is the worst she had seen it. Carolyn also said this was better then any Christmas she has ever had!
Our second stop was at Danny and Bec’s place, 890 acres. After driving down 12km of dirt road, in the distance we could see a man (Danny) standing there with his hands on his hips. After pulling up and saying G’day, then explaining what we were doing, he tried to refuse assistance. With a tear in his eye, he said, “I’m sure there are more people in need than what we are.” At this time I jumped out of the car, unwrapped the tarps and opened the utes up. You could say he was in a little bit of shock.
“The farm has been in the family for over 100 years,” Danny said. “This is the worst we have seen it.” Bec followed on with, “ This is just so uplifting”. Bec has two children, a 2 year old and a 10 month old. Having our young ones with us meant we all had something in common.
On to our third farm, 1080 acres. After travelling on some more dirt road we made a left turn into another farm gate, over another cattle grid. We saw many cows trying to sit in the shade of a tree. We came to the farm house where Penny was standing. Penny was home alone as her husband and 10 year old daughter had taken some cows to her in-laws place for the holidays as it was better grazing land. Penny was delighted to see us as she hadn’t been shopping in ages. They raise cows and horses. Penny offered to take us up and show us the poddy calves. She did warn us that one had unfortunately died over night.
“We tried to save it from a creek bed,” Penny said. “Sometimes they are just too dehydrated.” Penny and her husband usually run about 600 head of cattle, but now they are down to 240.
On to the fourth farm. We drove down the driveway to find a very unhappy looking lady standing at the farm house. (This lady didn’t actually say what her name was.) She was very thankful for the items we gave her. She wasn’t very talkative, though she did say there were about four generations, past and present, living on the farm. Six working dogs and four children.
Once again we hit the road. We had been told there was a single mum with two young kids who would love some help. It turns out we had passed this lady while traveling from Manilla to Barraba that morning, she was droving cattle on the main highway as there was no grass left in the dusty paddocks. She had her two kids on the quad bike with her. We left many items for her along with pictures and letters that the school kids from SCAS had written and drawn.
We did visit about 5 other farms, but they said they were small hobbie farms and really couldn’t take items that we had collected as it would be better to give them to others that are really in need.
If you are thinking about having a weekend away, think about traveling to a small country town, for example Barraba, to witness what the land is really like. Buy lunch at a small local cafe or pub. It’s heart-breaking seeing the land so dry and the farmers doing it so tough. If you see a farmer doing a bit of fencing, pull over in a safe spot and say G’day. Ask them how they are going. Along our travels there have been about 20-25 people that we have heard of that have committed suicide. It all becomes too much and they just want out, they feel like a failure because the farms have been in families for many many years.
Thanks to everyone who donated non-perishable items for our farmers.
- Matt Hayden