Upper Hunter farmers at Owen’s Gap, west of Scone, receive help during NSW drought

AGISTMENT GIFT: Upper Hunter drought-stricken farmer Rachell Cox with Kylee Hughes and Peter Haberecht at Mindaribba. Picture: Belinda-Jane Davis
AGISTMENT GIFT: Upper Hunter drought-stricken farmer Rachell Cox with Kylee Hughes and Peter Haberecht at Mindaribba. Picture: Belinda-Jane Davis

Rachell Cox’s cattle haven’t seen grass in more than 12 months.

And, as if that isn’t confronting enough, this year’s calves have been born into a dust bowl – her farm in Owen’s Gap, west of Scone.

The Cox family are spending $20,000 every three weeks on a B-double truck load of hay – and they’ve been doing that for many months.

It’s the only way to keep them alive.

So you can appreciate how a phone call from a good Samaritan in Mindaribba– who offered her free agistment at their grassy paddock – would put a spring in your step and a big smile on your face.

Nineteen cows and calves arrived at Kylee Hughes and Peter Haberecht’s hobby farm on Tocal Road last week and boy were they happy to see grass.

Their eyes were bulging out of their heads as they took in the landscape and they couldn’t wait to be let out to give it a taste.

“Having them here will hopefully cut down the feed bill a bit, we have ewes lambing so they will need more food now, but it’s still a great help,” Ms Cox said.

“It’s very generous of Kylee and Peter to let us have them here.

“When they said they didn’t want to be paid for the agistment I couldn’t believe it, and I feel like I should give them something for it.

“I keep thinking how can we repay them for doing this?”

The couple learnt about the extent of the drought through Paterson MP Meryl Swanson’s recent speech in federal parliament.

They contacted her to see what they could do to help and the Mercury helped connect them with the farming family. If the agistment hadn’t come the family would have been forced to sell more cattle – and they would have lost money due to the drop in the market.

“We’ve been selling some, and then selling more, we didn’t know the drought was going to go on this long,” Ms Cox said.

Ms Hughes and Mr Haberecht urged other hobby farmers, or anyone with land, to consider offering free agistment to a drought-stricken farmer.

“We were happy to help, we have a fair bit of grass and we are only hobby farmers – we all have to do our bit for the farming community,” Ms Hughes said.

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