Passion keeps them going

“WE ask ourselves continuously, why do it? Is it worth it?” said Pat Neal.

The Oxley Island dairy farmer said he could go out and get a day job and earn more than what he earns for his family from the farm.

At the end of the day though, farming is his passion.

“But it really gets you down when you start to work out there’s no money left over.

“We’re not sitting at home, we’re working harder”.

Some days Pat is up at 4.45am to head to the dairy and only calls in at home at 9am for breakfast and maybe at lunchtime (some days he doesn’t get a chance) and then walks in the door at 7.30pm for dinner.

“It’s relentless. There’s no four weeks holiday a year. There’s no ‘this has been a such a stressful time of year maybe we can have some family time’. It’s not an ordinary job.”

This is the case for all farmers and Louise said the only thing that makes them feel a little better is that everyone in the industry is going through the same thing.

“It’s not that we’re doing something wrong,” said Pat.

“There’s nothing that you can do to make it better,” added Louise.

They said the long-range forecasts are so important and it can be devastating when it is inaccurate.

“That’s how you plan for the future,” said Pat.

“You are told an average and you know that if you get that rain you will be able to get so much stock from that and you know you need to buy this much feed to feed the cows. But it hasn’t happened.”

He would like to see rainfall of about 300mm to 500mm over a week or two and only then does he think his dams will be full again.

Pat knows some farmers who have been in drought for two years, and who have big cracks in their paddocks

“We’re not sticking our hand up to say we’re bad. Compared to other farmers we aren’t doing it as tough”.

Farming is an unpredictable industry that relies on the weather and the first priority they have is to feed the animals.

“Nothing can be more important,” said Louise.

“We’re still smiling,” said Pat. “What else can you do?”

“It always comes to an end and it always rains eventually,” adds Louise.

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