A heartbroken farmer has made an emotional plea for help as she fears having to cull over 1,000 sheep to save her struggling business from the on-going drought.
Living on minimal water and forced to shower only a few times a week, Laura Jones and her husband Les are just about at breaking point, with their property resembling more of a barren wasteland than a thriving farm and surviving on sprinklings of rain.
Laura shared her emotional story on 2GB radio on Monday and described just how dire their situation really is.
“To have little or no rain in all of these years is devastating, [we’re] basically almost on the brink of shooting our stock and walking away,” the distressed mother told host Chris Smith.
“It’s barren, it looks like the middle of the desert in the Northern Territory, red soil, sometimes black soil, nothings growing, not even a blade of grass.”
Showering only a few times a week, Laura said she can’t even remember the last time she washed her hair because they just don’t have enough water available to do so.
Fighting back tears, the farmer said they have no other option than to kill their livestock and perhaps even walk away from their livelihood.
“We can’t recover, that’s the thing, if we’re not shooting them [the sheep] soon, we are loosing them by the days, they are just so weak, they fall over themselves, die wherever they fall over,” Laura explained.
Sadly, the Jones family are not alone with famers all through the region facing the possibility of closing their farm once and for all and re-building their lives elsewhere.
“Every farm that is in the district is in the same position, my family and I are no different to our next door neighbours, all facing the same outcome, we’ve got very little to go on, no money to fall back on,” Laura said.
“We try and feed our stock the best way we can. Some are saying that they can only last until the end of this month before they shut up shop and sell what stock they can. They stock they can’t, they’re starting to shoot them now.”
In a show of true Australian spirit, people from all across the country are searching their pockets and grabbing every bit of spare change to help the farming family get back on their feet, or at least keep their farm running a bit longer.
From loads of water and bales of hay to offers to cut up fire wood, Laura was brought to tears recalling how generous complete strangers have been in trying to help the family and other farmers like them.
“I’ve had gentlemen ringing, old ladies ringing, I had a lady who is dying from lung cancer this morning ring me and say ‘how can I help you? What can I do? I want to send money but I don’t know how’ she said before I go, I do not want you to sell your farm, or shoot your sheep, please let me help you,” she said, choking back tears.
Forced to bring lambs inside at night to keep them warm as their mothers continue to die, Laura said farmers across Australia are doing all they can to survive but need continued help to get them through the drought.
“We grow the best Australian produce right across this land for the world to be on show and yet we are closing down by the day, we cannot keep doing this, we are losing our food bowl for this country,” she explained.
“Help us, please. We need your help. In any way shape or form.”