South Burnett landholders Cameron and Lisa Shannon are among those forced into the time-consuming process of seeking Individual Droughted Property declarations, following the government decision to revoke the shire’s drought status in May.
“I was gobsmacked when I heard that,” 32-year-old Lisa said. “Rain on this country only sets you up for three months at a time.”
She and husband Cameron had one 100mm fall on their Boondooma property Kingar Springs after a very marginal year last year and a hail storm at the end of summer that pulverised what grass they had.
They’ve destocked to a degree and sought agistment for their Santa cross breeders in New South Wales.
“Any grass we could find locally was gold-plated – we were being quoted $1.50 a day – it was just not an option,” Lisa said.
The remainder of their stock, which includes a 400-head Dorper cross mob of lambing ewes bought as a diversification option as part of a Grazing BMP strategy, are being hand-fed hay and a meal mix ration.
It’s a job that Lisa and her three young children are doing with the help of an in-home carer and her mother-in-law, as her husband and his father are working away to try and keep the cash flow going.
They’ve been away for three months to date, salvaging spotted gum from a dozed plantation, meaning the pair is running two households.
Adding to their financial pain was the theft of 25 head of cattle in November last year.
“It put a dint in our finances,” is how Lisa describes the assault. “The thing that annoys me the most is that there has to be a supply chain.
“There’s got to be somewhere for them to go, a truck to move them and so on. They are just preying on us.”
Despite it all, she believes they were in a worse position after the Burnett River catchment floods of January 2013, when they had dams and infrastructure washed away.
They had only arrived on the property a couple of months earlier, in November 2012.
Lisa is trying to find time in the middle of feeding stock and maintaining infrastructure to apply for a QRAA concessional loan, which she hopes will help with their heavy mortgage commitments.
“This sort of life is very involved, having time to learn about all the things you need to know, to be on the front foot.
“People get overloaded and in drought times they are extra busy and lose that social contact too.
“For this time of year, things are pretty bad here at the moment.
“It’s not everything dying, but we’re pouring the lick into what cattle we have left.”