An eight-year-old girl's despair over cattle being sold has led to a social media page that is connecting communities across the country.
Emma McLaren, 8, realised how many cattle were leaving her family’s property at Merriwa as the truck came up the driveway to pick them up, and she burst into tears.
She had helped muster the cattle to bring them into to the yards, but it wasn’t until they were about to go the saleyards last month that she realised what was happening.
Her mother Cassandra had to explain the harsh reality of drought to her – they couldn’t feed them all.
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“It really hit her when she saw the truck coming, and once she burst into tears it got me too. In a drought you do what has to be done, you try not to think about it too much.”
I told her we had to sell most of the cattle, all the young stock, to keep the breeders,Mrs McLaren said.
Mrs McLaren recounted the conversation on her Facebook page and was inundated with support. That enticed her to create a Facebook group, called One Day Closer to Rain (Drought), to give people a place to share their experiences.
The name came from her husband’s standard reply when the drought comes up in conversation.
More than 3000 people have joined the page since it started in mid May. There are people from the land as well as suburbia, and followers in several states.
A lot of the posts have come from the Hunter region, especially around Scone and Murrurundi, and also from the New England area around Tamworth.
“People want to tell their story, they have no outlet for that, they don’t feel supported, and I think that’s why it is successful. They’ve got somewhere to share their photo and their experiences,” she said.
“We are only part-time farmers and the drought affects us all in different ways, whether you live in town or not.
“Obviously if the farmers haven’t got the money from their crop because they’ve used it on hay they don’t buy as much so the shopkeepers are hurting as well.
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It’s not just for the farmers to tell their story, it’s also for other people to offer their support. People are making their own networks and are helping each other, some people are posting questions and others are answering.
Mrs McLaren launched a drought awareness campaign through the page this week. It asked members to display the page logo – a paddock before and during drought, as a sign of support for farmers.
“We all hoped for that March rain, we thought we would be right but now we’ve lost that bit of hope and we’re going into winter,” she said.
“Anyone who is hanging onto livestock will be feeding them until spring now.”