What we know, what we don’t

Holes are all that remain of most of our strainer posts

Holes are all that remain of most of our fence strainer posts

Here’s what we do know.

The majority of our sheep losses were in our good, young one- and two-year old ewes, around 1000 head in total.

Although we lost a few calves, overall the cattle came through well.

But the toughest challenge, the one we’re still grappling with, is that we’ve lost around 90% of  grazing country is burnt out and all our fences are damaged in some way.

Without fences we don’t have a farm and without feed we have no chance of sustaining our surviving stock, now and through winter.

What we don’t know is the full extent of the loss and damage.

It’s only been a few days since we were taken off fire alert status.

We’ve lived on high alert for three weeks and it’s hard to come down, to take a breath, to step back and view the big picture.

Our days have been filled with survival tasks, such as:

  • protecting what remains of the property
  • finding sheep and cattle, destroying those that are suffering
  • securing fences on vital holding paddocks
  • containing and feeding cattle
  • mothering cows and calves for agistment transport
  • repairing critical infrastructure such as water supplies
  • caring for remaining stock, including sourcing feed and giving medicine
  • communicating with fire fighting services
  • keeping track of each other as we shoot off to put out a spot fire, or check a dam, or find lost stock
  • remembering to eat and sleep occasionally

There are many areas of the property we can’t go into due to half-burnt trees just waiting to topple and roots still smouldering underground. So, we don’t know the full extent of the damage and we can’t do an exact count of our livestock.

We don’t have secure boundaries and the sheep and cattle we can’t yet reach are wandering.

29 January 2013

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One response to “What we know, what we don’t

  1. So sorry to read your story and hope the recovery process is going as well as it can for both you and your animals. We survived the 2009 Black Saturday fires and understand all too well what you are going through. Our property backs onto Kinglake – our little community (Steels Creek) of 150 lost 11 people. I read your post with great interest and your advice to Colorado Bushfire survivors; in particular the suggestion of using Tri-Solfen on the burn wounds of their horses. We are a small Bio-Tech co (Animal Ethics P/L) that developed the Tri-Solfen product and have now licensed to Bayer Australia. As you suggested the product is highly effective on all animal wounds, and after the 2009 fires we were delighted to be able to donate large volumes to farmers and animal rescue groups to help successfully treat injured animals. Thanks so much for your support of Tri-Solfen. As Animal Ethic’s Social Media manager I would love to share your story on our website – if you are happy to. Please contact me via email if you are interested. Also loved your photos on your other post – seeing the beauty through the devastation is hard to appreciate at times; I never forget when the beautiful pink wild orchids popped up through the scorched landscape. We had never really noticed them standing on the side of the road before, but the contrast of the burnt land and the life of the beautiful orchid was breathtaking. We wish you all the very best of luck with your recovery.

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