Kevin L Fairbrother
Drought in Australia occurs on a regular basis through-out the country. Is a devastating experience for the men and women who try to make a living off their land.
Most Australians never experience the pain associated with drought, except at the super market when the price of fruit, vegetables and meat suddenly goes sky high due to the lack of supply.
During my travels last year western Queensland was in severe drought, Northern Territory wasn’t much better. Cattle were dying through lack of feed and water, farmers tried to find agistment in the south, where in some parts feed was plentiful
The cost of transporting cattle and sheep to places where there was feed became cost prohibitive and so many cattle and sheep were left to starve to death or were shot to end their suffering.
It is a sad tale of life on the land in the Australian outback and prompted me to put pen to paper one night when I was camped on the Barkly where the smell of dead and dying cattle drifted on the dry westerly wind.
As a farmer in Tasmania I feel I can handle most things but the experience of the pain, the smell, the thousands of Kites circling the dead and dying stock, to see the calves at their mothers feet to weak to stand, has left an indelible memory that I will never forget.
The Pain of Drought
Kevin L Fairbrother
The road trains full of emancipated cattle roar by
Heading south to somewhere that is lush and green
For the big dry out west as tightened it’s grip
As the dry westerly winds lay the paddocks bare
The cows they roar and moan and stamp their feet
At the struggling calves that lay dying in the dirt and dust
The Kites on high circle the scene of death and dying
As the mothers walk away they dive bomb the carcasses
The cattle cluster round the dwindling water holes and shade
Their skeleton clearly visible held together by skin and bone
The heat so intense they endure .. together with the millions of flies
A scene so horrendous you just cant help the tears in your eyes
The lean and tall farmer looks over his dying herd of cattle
And wonders why mother nature can be so bloody cruel
I’ve nurtured these cows from birth, they are my pride and joy
And to watch this scene of my dying stock… Mate it hurts
To bloody late to shift this lot off, he says out loud
I must end their suffering as quickly as I can
He heads to the Toyota to fetch his gun
Walks back to the herd with a tear and a heavy heart
With an anguished look and tears in his eye, he fires his gun
As the last one falls he looks on with pain etched on his brow
I best bury them deeply before the night falls
And heads to the homestead to fetch the machinery
As he drives he mumbles to himself the bloody politicians don’t care
And the city folk, well it’s outa sight outa mind with them
They can rest easy in their homes and comfortable beds
Whilst I toss and turn with mind racing of how to survive this devastation.
He returns to the macabre scene of blood, bodies and gore
The Kites in their thousands lift off from the bodies of the cattle
He digs a large hole and buries them deeply as night falls
And hopes that he doesn’t have to repeat the process with the stock that’s left.
The farmer heads home and is greeted by his wife at the door
He sobs in her arms and she says… I’m so sorry but it had to be done
We will look to the new day and hope the drought breaks
Knowing that Mother Nature will always have her way