Written by Kylie Savidge – Owner, Southampton Station.
Our rainfall over the 12 months since I last wrote has been rather incredible. We had excellent falls in the middle of summer, with December totalling 107.5 mm (430pts) and January’s total 136.75 mm (547pts). We had good heavy falls which ran water and helped top up our dam supplies. A great and much needed kick-start to the summer season.
Full rainbow over the houses.
February – 39.5 mm (158pts) was really promising but with totals in March 11.5 mm (46pts), April 3.75 (15pts) and May 8.75 mm (35pts) the season going into winter was concerning. There hadn’t been enough follow up rain in the warm months to get a good grass coverage established for the notoriously dry winters.
Full house dam in June 2016.
We were in for a surprise along with most of Western Qld as June rolled around. It rained! And it rained some more, and then more again! June dumped a total of 200mm (800pts) on Southampton. Dams were full and by-washing for the first time since 2012; the watercourse was running kilometres wide and the creek came down in a medium sized rush, cutting us off for about a week. A pump got drowned! It was, in the opinion of all, up high enough to not get wet. I think we have all heard this before and so it was that a certain fellow had to retrieve said pump. I have no actual photographic evidence due to the threat of me and my damn phone being tossed into said dam. I really, really, REALLY like my phone. Just sayin’!
Self-explanatory . . .
The middle of the year came around . . . and the weather still hadn’t turned cold! There was a green shoot growing, surely Jack Frost would arrive and freeze its little green socks off? The weather was beautiful, the mornings cool but not cold, the day was warm and the nights had a little nip about them but nothing bad. No winter westerlies howling in across the paddocks. No sneaky southerlies blowing up the airstrip and chilling you to the bone if you weren’t in the sun. All of a sudden we had a new body of grass, the cattle were doing well and my Dad was predicting the end of the world! The “perfect” weather was upsetting him no end, he didn’t like it. He still doesn’t like it as it has yet to turn proper job cold. We have had a few colder days but not the weeks of it as usual.
Green shoots in June.
July drizzled out a measly 17.5 mm (70pts). This was to the utter disgust of Jack and Ben who were hoping beyond hope they could use the excuse of “we can’t get to school as the creek is up”; the creek was easily crossed by this stage.
Somebody’s Dad bogged the dozer!
Clay coloured water from house dam by washing past the houses.
August to date of typing (4/08/16) has produced 4.5mm (18pts).
We couldn’t really be in a better position for spring and summer but I won’t call the drought broken until we get the first of our spring storms. These are needed to give the grass a lift and drive the roots down into the moisture already there due to the winter rain.
Mid-afternoon sun in winter, highlighting the grass.
The one worry we have for spring and summer will be Pimelea, a nasty little native weed that grows with good winter rain and is highly poisonous to cattle.There is not a cure nor a vaccine for this once poisoning occurs, preventative maintenance is the best way to manage it. Shifting stock out of affected pastures into paddocks with mulga and heavy grass cover is about the best you can do. It is rather ironic to have to seek agistment pastures if you have no mulga country when you are not in drought. More information and research is required by the State and Federal Governments so that a solution can be found. Unless we as primary producers as a whole in affected areas come together and make a fuss nothing, will be done. The more noise, the more notice is taken. But that is a subject for another day.
Times have been tight and there has been help come from places you wouldn’t expect. A phone call from a lady on Facebook had me in tears, she called to say that her organisation had allocated X amount of dollars for people in rural areas that were struggling. I politely told her “thank you, but we would be fine”. “Nonsense” she said, “I know how you country people work! You all say the same thing. So have a look at what needs to be paid this month and let us help you. I will ring you back in 10 minutes and make sure you have something we can pay for you”. She hung up! Yes, I did take the assistance we were offered and I am very grateful and humbled that there are people like this in the world. It did really help us even though we would have managed.
Cattle prices have leapt with the rain (and are still holding in the 300 to 400 c/kg range, compared to a couple of years ago when you were lucky to get 100-150 c/kg) along with that so did all our spirits. Income means we can pay our debts, invest in the future and live relative comfort.
Of course, not everyone has been as fortunate as we have in our little part of Queensland and I know that people are still doing it tough. Hang in there, your rain will come.
So all in all Southampton and her crew are travelling along and managing as best they can and we will continue to for as long as it is possible.
My Dad often says, “It’s a lifestyle Kylie, not a living and you have to love that lifestyle so you can keep on living”.
Until next year, over and out.
Winter sunrise, June 2016.
A big thank you to my very patient editors, Jenny and Tempest, without them you wouldn’t enjoy reading this nearly as much 😉