The Last Post

March 20, 2019

And yet another drought.

Kilcowera and Zenonie Stations are relatively small compared to the vastness of the properties in northern Australia.  They are situated in a fairly arid landscape in the SW of Queensland.  I have heard it called Heartbreak Corner on more than one occasion.  But I’m guessing there are many other places in Australia with similar nicknames.  My husband has lived out here all his life and I have been here now for  nearly 40 years.

During that time we have seen a lot of dry years and have been drought declared 3 times.  Being officially in drought enables us to access some subsidies from either the state or federal government.  The only one we ever found useful was the interest subsidy which was scrapped many years ago.

Early February 2019 has seen many parts of northern Queensland awash with far too much rain, roads cut, towns cut off, dams and rivers raging and cattle and sheep starving to death or drowning.  Conversely large parts of QLD have not received any rain at all for months and months and months.  Here at Kilcowera we registered just 91 mms during 2018- this is our sixth very dry year in a row.  We have been destocking year after year, only keeping a couple of hundred young cows.  It sure is a land of drought and flooding rain.  And dust storms and fires and flies and ants. 

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A fat happy cow in the good times.

We, at the other end of Queensland made the decision to sell all our remaining stock at the beginning of 2019.  Well, actually we had decided in late November that if there was no rain, they would have to go.  So in 45 to 47 degree heat we were mustering and processing, watering and feeding the last of our cows and calves, putting them on trucks and sending them to the first and second sale of the new year at the Roma Saleyards.  The young cows were all still in good condition and we were relieved to see them off the place, with no rain in sight and still months of hot weather they would not have gotten through the rest of summer.  There is not a scrap of grass, hardly any burr left only the Mulga and it too is dying in places.

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So we’re hobby farmers now with only a handful of cows and calves left and one bull.  The cows are scratching around out in a paddock that got a storm about a month ago and we have hay and molasses for them, so they will do ok.  But it will take us a long time to be back in business again. If ever.

There are different ways to handle drought and what each individual primary producer decides to do must suit them, how they run their property, the type of stock they have and even the type of country they have.  How far they are from markets, how far it is to cart feed or water for their stock, do they have adequate Mulga?  To push the Mulga or not?  Droving is another option or agistment if there is any feed to be had.

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Feeding out some donated hay, unfortunately it was not very edible, even to our hungry stock.

As I sit here writing this, yet another dust storm has loomed up from the south, taking and bringing dust and sand, making the house filthy once more and choking the dying Mulga trees.  Just another nail in the coffin.  But my Hubby has found a new rainfall chart for the year and added it to the last 40.  Let’s all hope that we get a chance to make a few marks on it this year.  I think this blog has run its course and this will be the last post I put up.  We have a Facebook page for Kilcowera and a website with its own blog so you can still keep up to date with all that happens down on the station.  wwwkilcowera.com.au  Thanks to those who have commented on my posts over the years!  Cheers from Toni at Kilcowera.

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