Kids hit hard by drought write heartbreaking letters
THEY miss spending time with their parents, are sad about losing animals and would do anything to help their families get through this drought.
These are the heartbreaking letters from children in some of the worst drought affected areas in NSW, Queensland and Victoria written to The Daily Telegraph as part of the Adopt a Farmer campaign.
The campaign, which resulted in more than $318,000 being raised for farmers, also gave more than 20 bush kids a chance to win a share in $20,000 worth of IGA vouchers for their families.
Jane Maree Cullinan, 14, lives on a farm in Dareton, more than 1000km west of Sydney, and said she hoped the drought broke soon because she wasn't sure how long the water would last.
"Our dams are bogging and we are having to pull out one or two sheep a day," she said.
"The ground cover is sparse, the trees are dying and the bushes have been stripped of their leaves.
"Dad reckons that if it does not break by September, we will be in strife."
Tahlia Bendall from Tullibigeal in the state's west said the drought was "really tiring" for her family.
"At our house the tank isn't full so we have to buy water which cost us lots of money to buy it," she said.
"My dad gets home really late sometimes so we don't get to see him much (which) is really sad for us. We have lost lots of cows and sheep."
Charlotte Darcy, 12 from Tullamore in central western NSW said she and her brother tried to get homework done as soon as possible so they could help their parents on their farm.
"When we have assessments we have had to do lots of work to make sure they are in on time because we go out and help feed the sheep and move them around the paddocks to try and find more feed for them with our parents," she said.
"We also have lots of dust storms that engulfs our house and property. We haven't had enough rain - it is really depressing"
Read their full letters here:
I love living on a farm, but it's been hard for my family. We have no money and the water is nearly gone.
Our sheep are getting skinny. They're not very big, they're not fat enough to sell and our paddocks are pretty much just dirt.
We are trying to grow feed, but we don't have the money to buy water.
My Mum and Dad work hard every day to try and make money. My sister, brother and I help do jobs on the farm. We love to save the orphan lambs.
We have had to sell more than half of our sheep and still have no feed. Dad spends hours feeding out hay and grain.
I'm sitting at the table writing my story, It's 8pm on a Friday night and my Dad is still working on the tractor.
I wish the drought would end, but sadly it isn't.
- Abbey Wishart, 8, Macorna, Victoria
Hi my name is Fergus and I am 10 years old. The drought means that we have to choose 1 sport that we can play because there is not enough money to play other sports and Mum can't drive us to all of them because we have no diesel. I love our cows and feeding our calves and it makes me sad that we might not do this soon. I would hate to sell our farm. From Fergus
My name is Violet and I am 7 years old. When it doesn't rain we don't have any money and my dad is very grumpy. We don't see my dad after school much any more he works very hard. I wish he could eat tea with us but he can't. I love it when he tucks us into bed but sometimes he can't do that too because he is always working trying to make us some money.
I'm Harvey and I'm 13, the drought has had a huge affect on my family and all of the other farmers.
Before the drought we were milking 350 cows and now we are only milking 120.
We had to sell all of our cows to afford water and keep on farming in the dairy industry. Ever since the drought and all the water prices have gone up we are currently waiting for the moment to move out and my parents will have to find other jobs. We have had to get rid of our full time worker so that we can save more money. If I could win this money it would really help out me and my 3 siblings and parents. Thanks!
- Fergus, Violet and Harvey McGillivray
D - Does everyone talk about how much rain they got overnight.
R - Rugby fields are very hard and hurts when you get tackled!
O - Our House is covered in dust!
U - Under average rainfall
G - Good rain will help the district
H - Help us please
T - Tyre sales are down because the tractors are stopped
D - Decreasing stock and grain.
R - Rural communities are restricted on water
O - "Ooh" we only got 5mm.
U - Umbrellas forgotten what they look like.
G - Gee the drought is bad.
H - How can our community help.
T - To many silos are empty.
S - Saving money and water can help everyone in a drought.
- Mitchell and Toby Stephens, NSW
My name is Sarah Evans and the drought has affected my family greatly because my Dad's occupation is a Kangaroo Harvester.
We need rain so he can do his job, because there has been no rain, the grass can't grow so then the kangaroos have nothing to eat which makes them starve.
Some kangaroos have moved on to other places so that they can find some grass to eat and the ones that have stayed behind have only got a tiny amount of grass. Therefore, they don't have enough food to make them healthy enough to meet the weight restriction for dad's requirements.
It makes them ineligible to be sold, which means we can't make money off them.
With Dad not working he feels a little depressed because he can't help our family make any money and help support our wellbeing.
Some of the property owners he knows are also feeling the pain that dad is in by not being able to make money.
We need a great soaking rain and follow up rain a short time after in order to help everyone.
- Sarah Evens, 12, Dareton, NSW
Another long hard day, mustering what little sheep we have left. I hope the drought breaks soon.
I do not know how much longer our water supply will last.
Our dams are bogging and we are having to pull out one or two sheep a day.
Dad reckons that if it does not break by September, we will be in strife.
The ground cover is sparse, the trees are dying and the bushes have been stripped of their leaves.
There is already very little left for the sheep to eat and it is only May.
The dust, oh the dust. It is so fine and just seems to get in everywhere.
We have to wait extra time at the gates before opening our car doors as the lingering dust seems to have no other place to go.
The kangaroos are looking hungry, hopping from paddock to paddock hoping it is greener on the other side.
Isn't it always greener on the other side of the fence? Bad news, not in a drought.
My Dad says that the upside of this drought is that the price of sheep is holding steady.
Thank goodness something is going the farmers way right now. Fingers crossed that the rain will come soon, spreading itself to the places most in need. I love listening to my
Dad reminding so many others that we have been in drought before and we will get through it again, better prepared for the next one. Droughts have a way of bringing a community together and that is what really counts.
- Jane Maree Cullinan, 14, Dareton, NSW
Every possible effect of the heartbreaking drought.
The drought experienced not so long ago, was as anyone would say experiencing the same tragic heartbreaking, devastating and negatively impacting the mental health of many individuals, especially farmers.
The drought affected my family quite severely, my Dad whom works for himself broke his leg a week before the horrific outbreak thus putting us in a rough patch.
My family of six with one working woman being my mother was hard for us as the income dialled down quite significantly to one wage instead of two, on top of that was the expense for the farm, more hay for the cattle and sheep, that we couldn't afford or even source, grain to keep them alive, different vitamins and minerals to promote strength and bone structure to extend their life just a little more.
The drought doesn't affect just the animals on rural properties but the state of wellbeing and mental health of the farmers and their families, the amount of stress I witnessed from both my mum and dad, worrying about livestock and financial aspects was unbelievable, the tension and fights erupted was almost scary.
To see the look of devastation on your parent's face is heartbreaking because you know there is nothing you can do, no matter how hard you try or suggestions you come up with you know deep down nothing can make them smile.
We lost 16 cows throughout this time, 2 horses and multiple sheep, for our family and property this was huge, I know, I am fully aware of how many more livestock other farmers lost in the time but for us it was massive due to the number of livestock we originally had.
The countless hours of trying to save cows and horses, putting so much money into food, heat and warmth to protect them and prevent death is unspeakable, unfortunately they all passed. The state of them was ridiculous, it was skin and bones, I felt sorry for them, looking at them was heartbreaking.
The cut downs on co-curricular activates, sporting, music and fitness sessions we minimised nearly to a zero just so we could be OK financially, afford enough money to pay for food on a weekly basis and not just for the animals, for the family as well.
IN the end, it isn't about just the animals or physical health, the state of peoples wellbeing and mental health is out of control, it destroys you.
The stress, anxiety and continuous tears running down faces of your loved ones destroys you mentally and physically but the worst part you can't do anything.
Not a single thing to prevent this great depression.
Drought doesn't just kill the landscape, atmosphere and livestock. It kills peoples motivation to survive, to pursue a struggling life and kills the happiness of many individuals.
The drought was the worst thing I've yet had to experience and overcome as a young adult.
- Georgia and Madison Pincott
Hello, my name is Kezia Phinn and I'm 13 years old.
I live in between Tamworth and Gunnedah on a 1500 acre farm running beef cattle.
Due to the drought two years ago my parents pulled me out of the private school that I was attending so that I could help out on the farm and it was a cheap alternative.
In the time that I have been at home I have found that I'm a lot stronger than what I was and I can do a lot more to help out around the farm.
I think that this drought has affected me not only physically but mentally, it's trying and sad watching the land become dryer, it's depressing always looking at bare ground, and when the storm just splits and goes around us almost every time, but on the positive side others are getting the rain. I have found that Im so much more appreciative of everything.
Last year we had to sell our car to pay for the food for the cows, and had been getting by with using borrowed cars from friends that very generously let us use their cars. It was only recently that we bought a cheap car. The one of the reasons it was cheap was because it needed quite a bit to do to it, but luckily my parents are both handy and could fix the car. My mum had hurt her back very badly and wasn't allowed to pick up anything more than a teacup, It was just my Dad and I left to feed up and do all the farm work.
We have received help from Doing It For the Farmers and Aussie Helpers. They have been amazing, it's the simple things that they have given us like Groceries that's helped a lot. Not having to pay for the Groceries has helped us be able to afford to keep the cows going.
- Kezia Phinn, 13
The drought made us very sad. Everywhere you look it is just brown.
Some trees died because they had no water. Some of the sheep died. We felt very sad about that. Cattle, kangaroos, sheep and goats got thinner and thinner. The birds had no food to eat because all the worms on our farm died! The river is dry and there is no flow. The water stinks! It is very dry and I hope there is rain coming!
- Jandre Mostert, 6
The trees are gonna die and the leaves fall off. It is very dry and it needs to rain a bit. I feel very sad when I look out the window and I just see sand!
- Lilly, 4
My Dad works for Elders, and recently has been coming home to tell us that farmers that he works with are suffering from depression and anxiety because of the drought. So dad has been organising donations to Beyond Blue to help our Aussie farmers, It doesn't also affect our local farmers, but affects us as well.
For the first time ever we have had to call in a water truck to our place because our tanks were so low. When we have showers we have to place a bucket below the shower so it fills up, and we can use it for the garden. We have also had to sell half our sheep because the dam is nearly empty and the grass is all dry and not enough feed for them.
It has been two years since we were allowed to have a water fight because we have to save every single drop of water. So you can see how the drought has affected many people just like us.
- Isaac Potter, 12, Cathcart
My name is Charlotte Darcy and I live on our farm Wattlebank on the outskirts of Tullamore. Tullamore is in Central Western NSW. We have been in a drought on our farm since the start of 2017.
The drought has affected not just the farm and the stock but also my family and myself. This drought has put myself and my brother behind in our homework and when we have assessments we have had to do lots of work to make sure they are in on time because we go out and help feed the sheep and move them around the paddocks to try and find more feed for them with our parents. We also have lots of dust storms that engulfs our house and property. We haven't had enough rain!! Even after some rain we had a dust storm. It is really depressing!!
Tullamore is only a very small town, we only have 70 students at our school from Kindergarten to Year 12. I only have 2 other kids in my year. Because Tullamore is so small, it doesn't have many things for us kids to do so each week Mum or Dad drive me to Dubbo so I can dance which I love. Dubbo from our farm is 115km. My brother Jack loves his football and he has to drive himself to Trundle (60kms away) to train two nights a week and then drive from home to lots of different places like Manildra, Peak Hill, Molong and other towns in his competition. This uses a lot of fuel with all the travelling we have to do as a family just so Jack and I can do physical activity. Mum and Dad have allowed us to do one thing each so that we can participate in something.
If I won the $1000 it would help my family a lot by helping pay for water, food and fuel. It would just help us a little bit which would be very appreciated.
- Charlotte Darcy, Tullamore
My name is Jacob and I am a high school student and my family have been farmers for over 50 years. We haven't milked cows for 30 years, however, we have 250 head of cattle and 3000 pigs on our farm on the Scenic Rim. Feed prices including grain and grass have doubled in price since the recent drought. Because of the drought, profitability has been non-existent. Recently, there has been increased rainfall as far west as Cunnamulla which was mentioned on Landline. This caused an increase in the price of cattle which is good, however, within a week the price went back down. The readjustment of the price is procedure for the meatworks operators. The buyers of the cattle would be told to go out and buy at the reduced prices so that the meatworks operator could make a profit. As an example, a bullock weighs 500kg dressed weight. If the buyer paid 10 cents per kilo more, the loss of profit on sale of the bullock would be $50. As meat works go, some kill 20,000 head of cattle per week while others kill as low as 5000. With an average of a 10,000 head kill for that week, a loss of $50 per head equates to a loss of $500,000 per week for the 10,000 head kill. If the buyer paid 1 cent per kilo too much on 10,000 heads, the loss of profit would still be $50,000 per week. Its not what benefit the government gives in way of fodder to feed their cattle, it's the fact that cost of contingencies, government charges, wages and superannuation affects the growers bottom line. My family works 7 days a week to keep the farm going, a day off would be a privilege. Farming is a huge part of Australian culture and is essential in today society and it has to stay that way. Our family will strive to keep the farm running.
- Jacob Wallenburg
The Drought has affected our community because the cattle and sheep were struggling to survive because they did not have nearly enough water or feed to keep them alive. The more animals that died the less money the farmers made for their families. It costs a lot to buy petrol and feed for the animals. Sometimes the farmers could only afford little bits of food for their cattle. In addition, many of the dams were very dry or had actually dried out altogether. Almost every day in the Christmas holidays and after school there was another dust storm. Little or big it still affected the community. Every time a dust storm came, we all knew what we were in for, DUST, DUST AND MORE DUST. Having to wash clothes for a second time-wasted a lot of water. Therefore, our community did not have a lot of water to use. And guess what we were even on water restrictions for a very long time, so we could only water our lawns, animals and gardens at certain times of the day, which was really annoying because those certain times of the day were at night or in the middle of the day when it was hot.
- Emma Bendall
The drought has affected our community mostly because there isn't much water. We need water to grow our crops we need our crops to feed the sheep and cattle we need the sheep and cattle to get money, we need the money to buy food for our families. Without water at our community our crops haven't risen and our sheep and cattle are thin so farmers aren't making much money. So lots of farmers are selling there sheep, cattle and land to get more money.
We also have had huge dust storms for a while we had a dust storm every day after school. The dust storms are happening because it is so dry. Some days the dust storms were so bad we couldn't see outside. Rivers, lakes and dams have been drying up and it's been so hot lots of wildlife have died.
It has been a very tough year for Tullibigeal.
- Amelia O'Reilly, Tullibigeal
How the drought has affected Tullibigeal is the sheep and cows and horses and whatever else people have they are all dying because they need to get crop in but they can't because there is no rain coming. Farmers spend lots of money on seeds and fuel to get our crop growing but without it raining we will lose all our money. We also need more water for the dams. Even one time we had to buy water but it cost a lot of money we couldn't afford it all. Also our hot water system broke and we can't afford to get a new one either. So we need to get heaps of rain to get more money for your family otherwise you will have no food. We cannot drink the water at our house we have to go and fill a water tank up to bring it back to our house. Also people are getting sad all over the communities.
- Millie Helya, Tullibigeal
The drought is affecting me because animals are dying.
Farmers are so busy that if there is a dead animal they don't have time to get rid of it and it will be there for a long time and it will get very stinky and yucky. If we only had a little bit more food and water I might actually be a bit happier we can't afford what we need.
And the crops aren't growing so we have no food for animals then they die then we have no money and then when we have no money so we can't buy food or water and it goes on and on. Also mum has to work and she doesn't play with me as much as she used to.
All I want to do is buy mum a box of chocolates to show my (appreciation)
Ps PLEASE help us
- Lilly Bell, Tullibigeal
The Long Dry Drought
The drought is a terrible thing. The drought is affecting us because there is no
Water for the crops to grow and there is no food for the sheep and cows to eat.
They are all dying of thirst and starvation.
Every day we drive in our buggy and there are stinky bones and dead animals lying around in the dry paddocks. Every afternoon we come home from school and dad isn't there because he is too busy trying to feed all of the stock and helping the crops to grow bigger and better.
I am writing to tell you how the drought effects our family. Every morning my dad has to get up at 5:00am in the morning to feed cows and sheep! Sometimes I help my dad open gates when he is feeding cows and sheep. [So he can get it done quicker] Out here at Tullibigeal it is really dry the dams aren't full and there are bones of dead animals laying around everywhere.
It costs us lots of money for petrol for vehicles and paying to feed all of our animals. People in our community are also affected by drought as well because farmers don't have much money to so they can't spend it in shops! Dad is worried of about our animals dying because of this drought and it is very sad to see all of our animals dying and our land very dry.
We have to put some of our stock on agistment which costs us lots of money. My dad and pop get really sad when it doesn't rain! My dad has to work really long hours even at night. It can get up to 40 and 50 degrees here witch is really hot. My dad has been sowing all night and all day if it doesn't rain soon the crop will be dead and then our stock won't survive and our farmers won't get much money to pay to feed all of our stock. We are also on water restrictions so we can't use much water to water our grass and gardens so they will die because they aren't been watered also at night we can't have very long showers if we do we will run out of water. Out here at Tullibigeal there are big red dust storms that you can barely see in and it is really windy. When it gets dusty it gets in the sheep's wool so we can't make money out of it. It also gets in their water and we have to clean it out which is losing water for us.
At our house the tank isn't full so we have to buy water which cost us lots of money to buy it! My dad gets home really late sometimes so we don't get to see him much witch is really sad for us. We have lost lots of cows and sheep. Sometimes I have to help my dad hunt sheep and cows so I have to get up early to and it is really tiring for me. That is how the drought affects me and my family.
- Tahlia Bendall, Tullibigeal
I am writing to tell you how the drought affects our family. Every morning my dad has to get up at 5;00am to feed the cows and sheep every morning. My dad and my family are hoping it rains because the crop is dying.
Some of our animals are dying because some people can't afford cow and sheep food.
Sometimes I help my dad open gates with my sister why he is feeding the cows and sheep it makes it quicker. We have to put our stock on adjustment it costs us a lot of money. It costs us a lot of money to get petrol for our vehicle.
Some people are getting poor because it is a drought. Some people have to travel a long way to get parts for their farms and heaps of other things. My dad has to stay at the farm for some of the night. It gets really hot out here in Tullibigeal it gets to 50 degrees witch is really hot. Some people are sad because it is not raining and people are running out of water. The drought has been going on for years. My mum has to work to try and get money. It gets really windy and dusty some times.
- Chelsea Bendall, Tullibigeal
The drought is killing animals because there is no water. We can't afford much food or water. There is not much feed. To grow crops we need more water. There is also not much water for the community.
- Abbie Lewis, Tullibigeal
Drought effecting Aussie farmers
The drought is effecting us by not giving our family enough rain to feed the sheep and grow crops. At Tullibigeal we have to buy water and It costs a lot of money. At my place our hot water system is broken we have to have cold showers because we can't afford to buy a new one. Our crops are getting damaged by foxes and the drought. We don't have rain enough rain for the sheep that's how they're dying. Those poor sheep.
I wish we had some kind of thing that produces water. All of the yabbies in the dam are dead because there is no water we only need just about 40 mill. My dad worries about not getting enough rain for the sheep and crops. He also worries about not getting enough money to pay for bills which gets the communities really worried.