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The rain has stopped. And with it, hope has gone.

Elissa
Elissa

As I sit down to write this, it starts raining.

There are smiles from my parents. They look at each other and laugh.

The rain hits the tin roof and the house is filled with that familiar smell of water on dirt, and boy has it been a long time coming. But it’s not the end, not by a long shot.

It didn’t rain in January for us but now there is a glimpse of hope from what has been a tough and depressing four months.

Will this rain last? No. But it is a tiny glimpse of hope for a man who has been battling watch his stock get thinner every day, and watching his property get drier and drier, and at the moment it is nothing but dirt.

I am not a farmer but I come from a long line of farmers and graziers who have seen drought many times before.

My father has spent his whole life on the land, and watching him come to terms with the reality that he will have to sell half his cattle to feed the rest of his stock and his family – the fact that there will be no income until late this year but a lot of expense – is bloody gut wrenching.

Drought
Elissa’s family farm
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But it’s not just him or my family; it’s our neighbours, our friends, and the rest of the Australian population who live their lives on the land.

We watch the animals we care for suffer, starve and die. There is nothing we can do but put them out of their misery.

We find our cattle stuck in a dam, too thirsty to move  but too weak to climb out.

We sell our stock for a mere profit, or left to eat specks of dirt in a paddock living on hope that it will get better.

More often than not, they starve and die.

After all, it’s not a farmer who controls the rain, it’s Mother Nature and when she wants to she can be a real bitch (if you’re reading this, Nature, please pull your plug out and drop a few inches over inland Australia).

"The drought is only the first problem."
“The sad thing is, the drought is only the first problem.”

The sad thing is, the drought is only the first problem. What it brings is low commodity prices and more expenses.  And with that comes a sense of helplessness and depression.

Last week ABC’s Landline interviewed a man in Queensland who told the story of a farmer who shot his 400 head of cattle and then himself, because there was no hope. He was told that he couldn’t sell his cattle because they were too weak. And in his mind – what else could be done? There was no help, no drought relief, and no understanding.

The rain has stopped. And with it, the hope has gone.

12 mls are in the gauge – sure, it will green the garden, but it won’t fill our dams that are going dry, nor will it bring our crops back to life.

Government assistance couldn’t come quick enough.

Whether or not you think the government should or shouldn’t offer drought relief, whether or not you agree with a farmer’s treatment of their animals, think of the human consequences.

Think of the man with no hope, and think of the families and animals who risk their lives to grow this country’s products.

If you’d like to help with drought relief efforts, visit Aussie Helpers’ donation page here – or visit your local Commonwealth Bank branch to donate to the We’re For the Bush Appeal.

If you or a loved one need to talk to someone, please consider calling Lifeline on 13 11 14, or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.

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