We witnessed another aspect of country life the other day – how to survive when your property is drought declared!
Meet Murray and his workers.
They ‘re from 100km west of Mitchell and out there the country is declared “drought stricken”.
Murray has about 1800 head of cattle and to keep his property going he’s taken 800 of them “on the road”.
He drives his cattle along the roads so they can access the grass and survive.
Under council laws they are supposed to walk the cattle 10km a day but it’s not strictly enforced, so long as they’re moving and not settling in one spot.
It’s is not a new thing around here, Martyn and his father did it for years with both sheep and cattle. When the sheep needed to be shorn they would use someone’s shearing shed along the way and it wasn’t uncommon to be droving likes this for many months on end.
Murray has been on the road for about three months already. That’s three months away from his wife and two small children. Three months away from fixing his fences, looking after his other 1000 head of cattle and sleeping in his own bed, and, if it doesn’t rain soon he’ll continue to be on the road until it does.
What struck us was the attitude.
In spite of this struggle to survive there was no whining, no whinging, no blaming others, no feeling sorry for yourself – and this young Cocky never lost his smile and his utter politeness.
The cattle get used to this way of life quite quickly and where one goes the others easily follow.
At times while traveling on the road we’ve stopped over night along side cattle trucks.
The noise the cattle make often turn people off from staying around them and it’s easy to think that they’re distressed at being in the truck, however, they make just us much noise happily standing in a paddock eating grass.
I suppose they’re communicating between themselves, calling their calves or having a good old chin wag because all of a sudden, for no apparent reason, they all start to move to another spot following one another as if a secret word has spread that a better patch of grass is down the road.
Murray stayed around the area for about a month but has now moved on, but we’ve noticed another large herd of cattle and a huge mob of sheep in the area.
These guys belong to yet another group of folk out here that have earned our respect and given us inspiration.