Having to sell lambs in full wool is the latest in a series of difficult decisions being made by Eulo graziers Mac and Mary Haig.
The couple live in a part of the Paroo shire that’s seen barely a drop of rain since 2013.
In Mary’s words, they are experiencing “a drought like no other” at Alroy.
“Other droughts have gone on longer but this has been worse – we’ve had nowhere to go,” she said.
They’d normally run 3500 sheep and 600 cows but are now down to 90 cows, 1400 ewes and 900 wethers.
Mac’s father bought the 22,660ha property in 1930, when he was 16, and Mac said drought had been part of life since then, but the short reprieve between dry spells this time is making things so much more difficult.
“I’m not sure what’s going to happen,” he said. “Everyone’s selling their weaners, and we’re going to end up with paddocks of old cows or full mouth ewes.”
Their situation was compounded recently when Mac was injured in a motorbike accident chasing a wild dog.
The dog took the front wheel out from under the bike, sending Mac crashing down with a handlebar crushing his ribs and causing extensive external injuries.
He somehow managed to get back on and ride 19km to neighbours who offered life-saving first aid until an ambulance could arrive.
He was airlifted to Toowoomba where it was discovered that the main artery in his spleen was bleeding.
After a month in hospital he was released on light duties, but it still hasn’t rained at home and now Mac is suffering from arthritis-like symptoms.
“It affects my knees and ankles. The worst thing is getting down to fix a pipe or something and then trying to get back up again.
“I’ve really only got Mary to help. People were fantastic over shearing but they can’t stay – they have their own animals to look after at home.”
Mac is philosophical about their circumstances, saying it’s all part of life in the bush, but he’d love to see drought relief assistance extended to higher freight rebate caps.
“We got a fair bit of lick out and we’ve reached our limit,” he said. “We’ve been feeding stock for over two years and that’s a fair cost.”
Mary says it’s ironic that some people complain about living in the bush when all she and Mac want to do is stay there.
“Our region and no doubt all parts of rural Australia are covered with empty homesteads where families once thrived and were always there to call upon for a hand or just to share a cuppa.
“Mac’s been at Eulo all his life, and we’d like to stay and retire here. We just want nothing more than to be here.”