“You will never understand how much this means to me and my children.”
Amanda Park and her family are some of the thousands of Australian farmers experiencing the worst of a drought that is crippling rural districts around the country and driving families to breaking point.
Resourceful staff at the Carinity Brownesholme retirement community near Toowoomba wanted to do their part to help local farmers like the Parks.
“We had the idea to harvest our unused paddocks for hay as many local farmers are struggling with the drought and the extraordinary increased cost of feed for their animals,” Carinity Brownesholme Village Manager Garry Slik explains.
“I found a local farmer who was kind enough to harvest the hay. He supplied all equipment and fuel and manpower.”
The Carinity Brownesholme site consists of around 120 acres of which the village covers around 30 acres – meaning there was a lot of grass to harvest.
Two harvests resulted in around 320 hay bales being distributed to six farming families in areas such as Highfields and Goombungee, 35km north-west of Toowoomba.
Amanda, who runs a horse farm at Highfields, expressed “extreme gratitude” for the bales of hay donated to her family.
“If only you could have seen the relief on my 11-year-old son’s face when he came home that afternoon and there was hay to feed his beloved sheep, some of which were bottle-fed orphans,” Amanda says.
“He had already mentioned to me that he understands if he doesn’t get presents this Christmas, as long as he can have a bag of chicken feed and a bag of sheep feed.”
Amanda says the ongoing drought has “all but destroyed us”.
“Unable to qualify for larger drought relief as our main income was only horse breeding/trainers and not primary producers, we have had to face this drought alone,” she says.
“With paddocks bare, water tanks almost empty, the price of hay almost tripled and hungry animals, I reluctantly returned to the workforce full time… just to try and keep our heads above water.”
Garry is delighted to “help others with a resource that has in the past gone to waste”.
“It was a wonderful thing for Brownesholme to do and it certainly aligns with Carinity’s core values – helping others in need,” he says.
Amanda urged people in the community to support struggling non-primary producer farmers