Don’t be fooled by the veil of green paddocks in some parts of the Hunter.
The region’s farmers are still battling trying conditions.
Widespread rain throughout the Lower Hunter last week is the most promising sign yet for farmers and their animals who have survived many months of severe drought.
But it’s come too late in the season.
The severe temperatures, humidity and lack of rain in recent times has set farms up for a long road to recovery.
Over the coming weeks they are relying on mother nature to dish out suitable growing conditions to give their winter crops – and grass – a chance to progress.
There isn’t enough time to plant lucerne and make hay from it to get through winter, so farmers will have to rely on crops of rye grass, clover and oats to supplement their animals through the colder months.
In most cases these crops won’t get them through until spring.
The situation is worrying for beef farmers who need to supplement their cattle with hay.
It is critical for the dairy farmers who won’t make a living if the cows don’t produce enough milk.
Ironically, the weeds are flourishing.
The severe heat and humidity over summer killed off the grass - especially around Dungog, Gresford, Stroud and Wallarobba - and now a lot of paddocks are full of weeds which offer no nutritional value and in some cases are toxic.
You get a lack of pasture in winter because its colder and then you have to supply hay or cut the numbers back, but if you’re a dairy farmer you can’t reduce the numbers,Hunter Local Land Services district vet Digby Rayward said.
“The native grasses have been slow to respond, I’m hoping it stays warm and we get follow up rain to give farmers a bulk of feed.”
As if these struggles weren’t enough, more farmers are now finding their kikuyu grass has become toxic and is killing their cattle.
More than 100 deaths have been reported so far.
“All the ducks that line up with this poisoning have lined up this year and we don’t have a good handle on it,” Mr Rayward said.
”We’ve had people struggle through the drought, and then they’ve had a bit of a pick in the paddock to help feed them and they’ve died from kikuyu poisoning.”