Hay there, want to shout us a bale?
It's been a long dry "wet" season! Up here at Rockleigh we have been waiting for the winter rains to come, we are still waiting. We've all heard of the situations interstate but things aren't much better in parts of SA. We have had a cold but dry Autumn/Winter period with minimal rain and this has seen our "ground feed" - the natural grass growth that covers the grounds of our paddocks - simply not take off. At this time of year our animals should be enjoying absolute minimal hay feed and loving grazing the grass to their hearts content. It simply isn't the case this year.
We have watched our cows, horses, sheep and goats wander paddocks trying in vein to feed on grass and weed just millimetres high. We remember this time last year and the grass, lush and green, was up to our knees in the general paddocks and even near head high in the far paddocks.
It's one thing that is a certainty here in Australia - drought. It's never a case of if but rather when it is going to happen. This drought has been a big one but it is not totally a surprise. Many years ago, under our last Government, growers and farm traders were warned that this situation would happen. Grants and funds were bandied around so those involved could start to prepare for this event and create backlogs of feed, cut stock numbers down and get ready to survive this natural event that is Australia through and through. Unfortunately too many, grants in hand, did not heed this warning and a lot of the problem we now have was created. Next to zero hay, with the remaining stock too thin to spread amongst all who need it and that available costing up to 150% more than the usual cost. As usual though, the real victims in these situations are the voiceless, those that are bred to record numbers in the chase for the almighty dollar, left to wander barren paddocks starving to death or being shot due to an inability to be fed and too underweight for anyone to consider them worthy of a slaughterhouse death.
Rescues such as ours find ourselves taking in and caring for animals from a myriad of circumstance. One such circumstance is the unwanted, the dumped and the neglected from the farming community. Our land, considerably smaller than the grandest of graziers, simply cannot be used to grow hay or grain. We too are amongst the hundreds of thousands of people that need such feed and are reliant on those apparently professional enough to grow it. We too have animals that require feeding and good health.
It's strange but we rescues have the same animals that are dying on the farming paddocks yet ours are not considered as important during "hay drives" or fundraising. Kind of the same.....but different in some peoples eyes. Well, we feel for ALL the victims of this disaster and our rescue animals certainly fit into that criteria. No Government funding or bail out grants, no semi trailer loads of donated hay, no "sausage sizzles" at hardware stores, rescue animals are somehow simply out of sight and out of mind.
Please, we ask you to remember us rescues. Remember the animals within, already saved from their own personal disaster, wandering paddocks needing exactly the same thing being chased for others. Remember the rescue operators, non profit and doing it off their own back struggling too to afford the one thing that their animals need to survive. We would go without on our own dinner table and give the shirt off our own backs to see our animals fed, healthy and happy. They deserve nothing less.
As part of our fundraising we currently have the "Shout Us A Round" initiative. This is a simple method where people can help by either donating towards a hay "round" or "square" or by physically shouting us some hay. Never before have we needed such help. Please make contact should you be able to assist in any way and rest assured that we can organise our own transport if need be.
We do this all for the animals, the ones that can't understand that drought means no food. They matter to us and we're sure they matter to you. In time the drought will break. Over a couple of seasons things will return to normal but catastrophes are prevented by acting now in preparation.
Here, they are not things but rather somebody. Here they come to live a new life. Here they find FUREVER FARM - Where the voiceless come to speak.
Darren, Hayley & all the Furever Farm team.