The Oamaru Mail has headlined the d word: Drought declaration looms for Otago region.
We had a short, sharp downpour on Thursday which has taken the pressure off us but we’ve got irrigation, scale and diversity.
It was a very localised rain and even those who got as much as we did will still be facing some tought decisions if they’re dryland farming.
North Otago has been dogged by droughts since farming started here – and no doubt before.
This dry is unusual because it’s taken so long for public acknowledgement.
When there wasn’t much irrigation, all farmers stopped spending when the weather got dry and it didn’t take long for the town to fell the impact.
I think now there’s now enough irrigation to keep the money flowing into Oamaru so the town hasn’t been affected the way it was in the past.
We look across green pasture to dry paddocks in the distant and are grateful we’ve got irrigation. It must be hard for those on the dryland looking back the other way as they run short of feed and have to face up to quitting stock.
There was a dusting of snow on the Kakanui mountains yesterday morning. It was gone by lunchtime but it’s a sign that temperatures are dropping so even if the region gets more rain soon, it will be too late for pre-winter growth.
One good thing about the decrease in the sheep population is that there is plenty of space at the freezing works so farmers needing to reduce stock will have somewhere to send them.
Lambs are selling for about $75 dollars and ewes for around $55. Two year old beef cattle are fetching about $950.
It may not be a fortune but it has been much worse.
When the ag-sag of the 80s coincided with a drought some farmers got bills when they sent stock to the works because transport and killing charges exceeded the value of the animals.
PS Contact details for the Rural Support Trust which helps rural families facing an adverse event – climatic, financial or personal – are on this website.