‘15 of 17 years have been dry’

Hay Runners deliver hay to Mac and Mary Haig near Eulo


Sheep
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Eulo producers keep fighting on the land they so dearly love.

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Mary Haig of Alroy at Eulo with some cattle enjoying food from the Hay Runners. Picture: Lucy Kinbacher

Mary Haig of Alroy at Eulo with some cattle enjoying food from the Hay Runners. Picture: Lucy Kinbacher

EULO producers Mac and Mary Haig received 40mm of rain for the year of 2017 on their property, Alroy.

If you ask Mac when he predicts their next rainfall, he is unfazed in saying the end of May. Five months away, but they need it now. 

Alroy is a 65,000 acre property currently running 3000 sheep and 130 composite bred cows which is 50 per cent of its normal stocking rate.

According to Mary, 15 of the last 17 years have been dry while Mac is a little more optimistic putting it down to about 10 years with a few periods of relief, but regardless of either answer, it’s certain that Alroy is currently drought stricken.

Some of the first time heifers at Alroy.

Some of the first time heifers at Alroy.

The couple are feeding 2.5 tonnes of dry lick to their cattle each week, managing Mulga for fodder and in the coming weeks Mary is preparing to wean 17 calves off of first time heifers and hand feed them.

The couple were one of the many producers in the Cunnamulla district who were given some relief when the Burrumbuttock Hay Runners delivered three trailers of donated hay to their property.

With shearing taking place on February 16, the couple said the hay would help them get through that busy period. 

Mary said it was a love for the land that made them determine to fight through dry times.

Mary said it was a love for the land that made them determine to fight through dry times.

Mac, a third generation farmer, said they should receive a 203mm annual rainfall but last year they had no more than 11mm in the few rainfall events. 

“We had a couple years we were alright and then back into it (drought),” he said.

“​The stock are still doing well, good enough. It gets really heartbreaking when the stock are real bad and then they half give up as well but the stock have been hanging on really good so that gives you hope.”

Thankfully an artesian bore provides the couple with secure water and Mary said mulga harvesting had allowed them to stay in operation.

The cattle were enjoying the first feeding of the Hay Runners load.

The cattle were enjoying the first feeding of the Hay Runners load.

This year’s hay run was different to others with the majority of trucks taking hay directly to properties rather than farmers travelling into town. 

Among the three tuck drivers who arrived at Alroy was Troy Hendy of Hendy Transport based at Saint Arnaud in Victoria.

The hay being unloaded at Alroy.

The hay being unloaded at Alroy.

He described the hay run as a fishing trip in the trucking world, catching up with friends and bringing joy to those doing it tough on the land.

The Cunnamulla trip was his fourth hay run after first taking part in a trip to Ilfracombe in 2016 where he will never forget a conversation with a man he had while unloading. 

The road heading to Alroy.

The road heading to Alroy.

“He said we have had to cut back on a little bit...I’ve had Weet-bix for the last 12 months...that gets me through the day,” Troy said.

“This was in conversation. This gentlemen, that didn't know me for a bar of soap, we got talking about his bowl of Weet-bix and it puts everything back into line.

Truck driver Troy Hendy with Mary and Mac Haig at Alroy.

Truck driver Troy Hendy with Mary and Mac Haig at Alroy.

“I keep saying to my drivers you aint having a bad day, there is always someone a little bit worse off.”

While it costs him between $8000 and $10,000 donating his truck and time for the cause, he said it was well worth it.

“We are here because we have got big hearts,” he said.

READ MORE ABOUT OUR LAST VISIT TO EULO IN 2016

The story ‘15 of 17 years have been dry’ first appeared on Queensland Country Life.

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