Ken Knight

Disaster Relief Australia | May 2019

“On the land, you live on hope.”

If you talk to the old timers, they’ll tell you they’ve never seen the water situation this bad. We had 400 cattle and we’re down to half. We have 11 dams, and before that last bit of rain in end of March, 11 dams were empty. Creek was all empty. All we were relying on is two bores down at our house.

You keep thinking – “it’s gonna rain soon” – so another truckload of hay comes in to tide you over. It’s $18,000 every time a truck drives in. Once you use half that load, the rain never comes, and you have to order another one. Start to think – “I should’ve sold more cattle” and “have I done the right thing?”.

We’ve had to dig into our super because of the drought, between the hay and the watering systems. There’s not much left. It’s a concern because if you keep dipping out of a well and there’s no rain, eventually it’ll go dry. And then what do we do? Do we sell the property? That’s not a good thought.

And if we don’t get decent rain through the winter, we’re gonna be in big trouble in the summer. All the underground water’s gone. You can keep buying hay, but you can’t keep up buying enough water.

It’s been bloody dreadful. We were shooting cattle out in paddocks. And when the dams got real low, the cattle go in there to drink and get bogged. We’ve had to pull them out and shoot them, too. It’s not good at all.

And having my knee operation – that didn’t do things much good at all. I’ve got three screws in my back and tore two tendons in my shoulder pulling a calf out of a cow, but the knee has been the worst. It’s had a fair impact because I can’t get around to do things. It’s stressful. After six weeks I got back in the tractor, but I think it wasn’t the right move to jump into work so quickly, my knee blew up with swelling.

I do suffer from depression and it’s a shocking feeling. You feel worthless, like what’s the point of me being here. And I think out here we’re all macho men, and y’no – “We don’t need help. We can manage.” You always think there’s someone worse off than you. Probably we’re embarrassed to ask for help because we’re on the land, we’re tough people. And people think – “Oh, you’re a bit of a wimp. If you can’t manage, you shouldn’t be on the land”.

But I think we’ve gotta realise – righto, we are getting older, we are. We do have injuries. This drought is tough. You’ve gotta talk to people. And help is very, very good. It’s unbelievable.

You guys being here is having a big impact. It’s taking a lot off our shoulders. The firewood will keep us warm, that’s very important. And it’s a bit of hope. On the land, you live on hope.