After days of intense heat and months of dry weather, the city of Brisbane finally, got a decent storm that brought thunder, lightning and most importantly rain! Of course, this also meant flash flooding, high winds and power outages but we Queenslanders know that this goes with the territory. Last night the air was crisp and clean – a real relief from the muggy, humidity of the past week. Sleep was a much easier prospect and this morning has dawned clear and sunny but the ground definitely has a tinge of green already.
While I definitely feel joy and relief, my celebrations were immediately curtailed by the heart wrenching comment posted by my dear farming friend who is smack bang in the midst of a drought – big time.
“those pics make my mouth water…we just have the heat and now wind thankfully to get some water pumping….glad you guys got under some as Brissy looks pretty ordinary too.”
A drought for us city slickers is an annoyance – our gardens require more attention and many plants don’t survive and our lawns become dust bowls. But a drought for our farming families and associated industries, is a whole other ball game.
Most of my farming friends are dairy farmers. The Australian ones have had more drought than good years in the thirty plus years we have been friends. In the past, they have always managed to keep positive and continue to look with hope and prayers towards the next sprinkle or storm. They have always been circumspect. Knowing that with the land comes challenges. They have continued to push on day after day to put food on our tables.
But this time I can feel a difference. A despair that I haven’t witnessed personally before. This drought hasn’t been as long as some others but I think it must be the constant wearing down of having had 11 years of drought, only to be followed by 2-3 reasonable years, then to be thrown right back into drought again! The recovery time might have been enough for the land to semi bounce back (I have no technical knowledge here so don’t quote me) but it does not seem to be enough for the exhausted minds and bodies and souls to recover. They are tired and downhearted and struggling to find the energy and will, let alone the finances to keep going.
I have felt helpless to know what to do to relieve their burden for some months now but I continue to do what I can. I never buy Supermarket brand milk (every little bit helps); I give when & if I can; I sign petitions and I pray. Another thing I try to do is to encourage and validate my friends importance to me personally and as a community, by sharing their stories and struggles with whoever listens or reads my facebook and blog posts. As I have found with my personal struggles, just knowing someone cares about you; is thinking about you; is praying for you – can give you an amazing boost! For the farmers to know that when we get rain, we are still thinking about their plight, is greatly appreciated. And the big one …. when they get rain – it doesn’t mean the drought is over for them. They will still need, the often elusive gift of follow-up rain, to really make a difference. They don’t need to be told that they are never happy!!!
So make contact with a farming family today. Tell them you are thinking about them and their important, life-giving work. Show them that you appreciate them and encourage them by prayer and any other means you can. Talk to them, ask them how they are going and if there is anything specific you could do to help. Then follow through as best you can! They will appreciate your thoughtfulness and together, one at a time, we can become the soft place for them to fall and the safety net necessary to keep going.
I wish to acknowledge Amie Ballon for the use of the gorgeous photographs of her family property.
You can see more of her work on Instagram on http://instagram.com/amienicolephotography