East Gippsland farmers 'keep moving forward' after bushfires

East Gippsland fires devastate farming family

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Kevin Woodgate, Buchan, Vic, feeds cattle on his property that was burnt out during the summer bushfires.

Kevin Woodgate, Buchan, Vic, feeds cattle on his property that was burnt out during the summer bushfires.

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Tammy and Kevin Woodgate are no stranger to fire but that didn't make this year's summer bushfires any less horrific.

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Tammy and Kevin Woodgate are no stranger to fire but that didn't make this year's summer bushfires any less horrific.

On New Year's Eve, fire hit the Woodgate family's Buchan, Vic, properties, ravaging the land and the livestock that lived on it.

In total, the family lost 40 head of sheep and 30 cows and calves, as well as all of their fencing and shearing and machinery sheds.

"We'd been through fire before, and we were always expecting it to happen again at some point, but it still wasn't easy," Ms Woodgate said.

She said although the rebuild seemed like an intimidating task, it began almost immediately after the threat was over.

And that was thanks to local support and donations from far and wide.

"Straight after the fire we started feeding stock; we had no country left at all," she said.

"We were lucky to have hay in the sheds but literally two days after, the trucks started arriving with donated hay."

They were able to move quickly on rebuilding fencing on the property as they were insured, and have since installed 78 kilometres.

READ MORE: Adelong bushfire experience like an 'overnight drought'

Prior to the fires, the Woodgates had reduced their number of cattle and bought in sheep as a quicker income turnover.

They had about 150 sheep remaining after the fires and have since bought in an extra hundred locally from Bairnsdale.

"Prices were expensive but we just had to buy them," she said.

When it came to shearing, they had to transport their sheep to Ms Woodgate's sister's property as they no longer had a shearing said, which she said was a "logistical battle".

They are waiting on permits to rebuild sheds.

Ewes and lambs at the Woodgates' property over seven months on from the devastating New Year's Eve bushfires.

Ewes and lambs at the Woodgates' property over seven months on from the devastating New Year's Eve bushfires.

But the biggest hurdle facing the family as they continue to rebuild is the ongoing drought.

"We're still in drought and it hasn't improved much," she said.

"We had about 7.5 inches of rain straight after the fire and we've had 36 millimetres since then, so we've been feeding stock since January 1.

"We just really need more rain."

But Ms Woodgate was staying positive.

"Your mind's always ticking over but we've just got to focus on getting things back up and running," she said.

"We try not to dwell on what's happened and just continue to move forward."

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