Until today, I was preparing to give you the worst news, the weather has been so dry over the last few months we had almost run out of both grass and water at both properties. We had already sold (at a loss) the steers that we bought back in April, and the larger calves from the Braford cows. We were preparing to start selling cows until we were left with maybe 10 cows and the bull, if we were lucky.
And then tropical cyclone Oswald appeared on the North QLD coast and began tracking south, bringing 100s of mLs of rain to coastal areas, while central QLD remains on fire-watch. This morning Pete emptied the rain guage because it had reached its capacity of 110mL since it started raining on Thursday. Our nearest weather station in Kingaroy has had 173mL since 9am yesterday.
We're ok. We needed the rain, we needed this much rain to fill dams and really get our grass and forage crop to grow. We are sorry for everyone who didn't need this rain and is now suffering from floods. We know we're ok because we survived the now legendary floods of January 2011, in which we were unable to reach any major centres for weeks. Since then we have acquired a milking cow, a generator and hoarded heaps of dry food.
|the radar this morning, arrows indicate our properties, |
dark blue indicates heavy rain
More and more it seems to be that farming is just gambling with the weather. As much as you can sit down and work out your farm plan, with expected weight gain and bales of hay per ha, you can't count on the weather. Maybe other countries have more stable and predictable climates, but Australia doesn't. Even the professionals have no idea what's going on. In October the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) predicted that we would have a good chance of above average rainfall over summer.... and then it hardly rained at all. By December they were predicting a below average rainfall. To be honest the Southern Oscillation Index has been hovering around neutral to negative values for months, it was quite obvious that we should expect dry weather, but its easy to believe positive predictions when you a desperate. And now, with only a few days warning, we are experiencing cyclonic weather (lucky we are only on the edge, the coast is bearing the brunt of it). Following the BOM forecasts is like following racing tips, sometimes they are right and sometimes they are wrong, and sometimes you just get really lucky and it rains at exactly the right time in the right amount to make your farming venture work perfectly.
Now that its rained we can keep all the cows for a little while longer. The forage sorghum that we planned early that is nearly high enough to feed (and just last week looked like it was about to expire) will probably do really well (lucky we have free draining cultivation and not the river flats, that up until yesterday, were growing rather well, but will now be water-logged), and the sorghum that we planted later that has not even sprouted yet may now appear. We might even have more feed than we can use.
We don't know yet what roads are cut and how long we will be isolated, we don't even know if we can get to Cheslyn Rise (but at least we know the animals won't by thirsty!).
I hope that you and your animals are safe too. I hope that you gambled and won as we appear to have so far.