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Searing heat drains farm incomes

Summer has signed off fromthe Haltoncattle-grazing property of Peter and Rosalie Lawrence by sending in some rain, but the brutally hot season has left behind a scarred landscape.
苏州桑拿会所

Summer saps livelihoods Peter Lawrence with his cattle on the family property near Gresford. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Peter and Rosalie Lawrence check their cattle on the family property near Gresford. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

With the paddocks parched, the Lawrences have had to hand feed their stock. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Reflecting: Peter and Rosalie Lawrence checking their cattle on the family property near Gresford. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Peter and Rosalie Lawrence on the parched family property near Gresford. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Peter Lawrence on the parched family property near Gresford. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Dry times: Peter Lawrence checks the dam level on his parched property near Gresford. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Peter and Rosalie Lawrence checking their cattle on the parched family property near Gresford. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

TweetFacebook Summer scorches paddocks and livelihoodsFor graziers Peter and Rosalie Lawrence, the run of hot days has parched their paddocks, near Gresford, and dried up their income. Pictures: Max Mason-Hubers “It’s probably some of the toughest weather I’ve experienced,” said Peter Lawrence, who has lived all of his 62 years on the land in the shadowof the Barrington Tops.

“We had an extraordinary number of days over 40 degrees, and that just saps the life out of the country.”

The grass in the paddocks turned brown, dams were being drained, and the usually reliable Allyn River that nourishedthe Lawrences’ land and stock was dropping to alarmingly low levels.

Mr Lawrence said he had seen “serious” summers before, but not one thatchanged their landso dramatically and so quickly. At Christmas, their 131-hectare property looked healthy.

“It’s hard to believe it got to where it did in just two months,” he said.

Faced with parched paddocks, the Lawrences have sold off dozens of their cattle, mostly Black Angus, and have had to hand feed their stock.

“We started with 190 [head of cattle] at the beginning of the financial year; we’ve now got 120,” Mrs Lawrence said.

While the farmhadreceived about 29 millimetres of rain in recent days, Mr Lawrence said more was needed to ensure some feed was restored before winter arrived.

The impact of summer stretches across property boundaries and seasons. The Gresford community is preparing for its 85th annual show, which is held at the end of next week. The Gresford Show celebrates the area’sagricultural heart.

Rosalie Lawrence, who is the show society’s honorary secretary, said she expectedthe summerwould reduce exhibit numbers, particularly in sections such as flowers and vegetables. There had been only seven entries so far for the commercial cattle section; the organisers usually hadabout 20.

“Unfortunately, the weather’s had that flow-on effect,” Mrs Lawrence said. “But it will still be a good show.”

The summerthat has been so testing for the Lawrences’ livelihood has shone great fortune onStephen Delaney’s business. Mr Delaney is the co-owner of Raisbeck Refrigeration in Newcastle.

“Summer’s beenflat-out,” Mr Delaney said.“We’ve been 50 to 60 per cent busier than normal summers.”

His team of five mechanics were each doing up to six jobs a day, mostly repairing stressed-out refrigeration and air-conditioning units.

“I’m glad it’s slowed down a little bit, we can start to catch up with office work and maintenance,” Stephen Delaney said.

Not that Mr Delaney is wishing for a longwinter. For when summer rolls around, so does morework.

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