Monday, April 13, 2015

That Is Indeed A Beautiful Sound

Since around 0645 we have had the sound of rain on the roof,  steady and after two hours, around 13mm.

Here in Akaroa we were not as desperate as many pockets  around North Canterbury, a friend from Cheviot next door to where we spent three years in the mid 60s, is saying it is so parched there is not even any green in gully floors where there is normally some hope of a lunch for a rabbit.
Another comment in Farmers weekly said their bit of unirrigated country has moved from brown to white.

Of course next years lamb crop is now set for almost every flock with the body condition of the ewes and the feed plane having established the fertility parameters for what is dropped next spring, however the current challenge for all, including some irrigated farming operators is just having a source of food to maintain a productive base through to  next season.  With a considerable quantity of stored supply in the form of hay, silage and baleage having been consumed to feed capital stock through the dry and sown winter forage either not yet growing or severely constricted. The good news is there are good supplies of Grain,
I hesitate to use the other 'd' word as drought is such an emotive and overused term.
Large areas of northern NSW and Queensland have not seen rain in three years and with much of the base livestock resource either dead, dying or sold, and farmers increasingly taking their own lives calling a dry of months a drought somehow diminishes the aura of what a serious drought can deliver.

Our first foray into farming as owners was in the autumn of 1969 and the next 12 months delivered us a baptism of adversity with only 500mm of rain and winter wheat delivering  a yield of .25 tonne per acre.
The next season was no where as bad with another 75mm or 16 inches of rain and yet we still made profits even though the district average was another 8 inches a year at 24 inches a year.

Many will see corporate welfare in what the government delivers as "Drought Relief "when the two main things such a status will deliver is some subsidised support in the form of coping and staying in the game and taxation relief in being able to avoid, note not evade, tax being assessed on monies generated from sale of capital stock, the funds so generated being needed to be spent to re-establish a productive base after the grass grows again. Corporate welfare, I don't think so, pretty much in the hand up category, sort of being neighbourly if you will

'Too little too late', is so glib yet it is a basic fact of life for most NZ pastoral and a considerable chunk of arable farming outside the Irrigated areas and it must be said there have been some crippling constraints in the water allocation dimension in those areas as well. It is sometimes too little but too late has a distinct glass half empty ring to it.

It is never too late as those in the game well know,  soil temperatures during the rains that break a dry are nearly always maintained to allow good growth and can be still conducive for weeks if not months later.
We moved our Farming to the Wairarapa in 1980 and that eastcoast district had endured a serious dry after crippling spring flood rains. A farm on our new  northern boundary had built a very large storage dam for reticulated stock water. The project was completed in late January and seed spread on the disturbed soils. The rain that struck that sowing came in June and boy did it grow.

The challenge facing all the farming operations as the dry ends is to "manage" what ensues and that is nothing more or less than those who have been in the game for a while understand and carry out with a dry being just another challenge albeit a biggie in this instance.
I recount what the late John Corbett said more than once as we struggled to cope with things so dry in the 1970s, "Murray a dry is easier to manage than a flood as the flood can take all while the dry is only a deficit of one of the things to be dealt with, you still have options",
It is rare to witness a farmer who has unsaleable stock and those instances indicate a person who would be better to leave the industry, but that said there will be cases yet to emerge publically.  Sadly they will almost without exception be what I consider to be mongrels who do not have to absorb the financial repercussions of their stupid cruel decision making, whether personal or more likely by proxy where a "Manager" will be the scapegoat.

Compared to what is facing the poor buggers in places such as Lightning Ridge NSW just South of the Queensland border, what the current dry has delivered here is relatively minor, so many of our  Aussie brothers and sisters  are totally buggered and as Allan Jones pointed out the other night on Sky, if it was a tsunami in Bali the Federal Government would be pouring a billion dollars into aid while the farmers facing ruin are left to the wiles and avarice of their own countries banks without so much as even recognition of their plight.  It is pertinent to remember that some 70% of Queensland to the South and SW of the tropical North is in serious rain deficit and has been for some three years.

Every 'dry' ends with a 'wet' and that is just farming, I have been there.

1 comment:

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

'And we'll all be rooned,' said Hanrahan.