Farmers in survival mode: Lower Hunter battles awful drought

Posted on 12/17/2018

Farmers in survival mode, battling awful drought WATER SHORTAGE: Dams on the Stork family property are in crisis. Four out of the five dams are empty.

DROUGHT: Farmer Danny Stork stands on the family property at Glen Oak pondering the landscape. Pictures: Belinda-Jane Davis

DRY TIMES: Brown grass everywhere.

CREEKS ARE DRY: Farmer Danny Stock in the creek bed that should be full of water.

CREEKS ARE DRY: Farmer Danny Stork in another dry creek bed.

DAM: A dam that is almost dry.

DRY TIMES: View of the landscape at Glen Oak.

CREEKS ARE DRY: Another dry creek.

HOPE: Some green grass shoots among the dead grass. They will also die if there is no rain soon.

BROWN GRASS: Farm dogs take a stroll on the grass.

DRY TIMES: View of the landscape.

VEGGIE GARDEN: Pumpkin crop is looking for water.

VEGGIE GARDEN: Pumpkin crop is looking for water.

DRY TIMES: View of the landscape.

DRY TIMES: View of the landscape.

DRY TIMES: View of the landscape.

DRY TIMES: Corn crop looking miserable.

DRY TIMES: View of the landscape.

DRY TIMES: View of the landscape.

DRY TIMES: View of the landscape.

DAM SUPPLY: The water level in the dam has dropped significantly.

DAM SUPPLY: The water level in the dam has dropped significantly.

FOOD SHORTAGE: Cattle at Glen Oak.

FOOD SHORTAGE: Cattle step into the shade to cool down at Glen Oak.

FOOD SHORTAGE: Cattle step into the shade to cool down at Glen Oak.

DRY TIMES: Another dry creek bed.

DRY TIMES: Another dry creek bed.

DRY TIMES: Another dry creek bed.

DRY TIMES: View across the paddock at Glen Oak.

DRY TIMES: View across the paddock at Glen Oak.

DRY TIMES: Dry creek bed.

SHADE: Cattle sitting in the shade.

SHADE: Cattle sitting in the shade.

SHADE: Cattle in the shade.

DRY TIMES: Cattle are being fed with forage to survive.

DRY DAM: A dry dam at Glen Oak.

DRY DAM: A dry dam at Hinton.

WATER SHORTAGE: A dry lagoon between Phoenix Park and Largs.

TweetFacebookSomefarmers around Dungog and Gresford have already run out of water and been forced to sell their cattle despite prices being right down.

Two of the farmers who come to the city’s Slow Food Earth Market have run out of water and another is relying on suitable salinity levels in the Hunter River to be able to irrigate thecrops.

Maitland has recorded its driest January since 1932, with only 6 millimetres of rain.Paterson has done little better with 10 millimetres of rain –it’s lowest January rainfall since 1903.In Cessnock things are not quite as dire, with the driest January in fifteen years recorded after only 6 millimetres.

The rise in the number of cattle hitting the market has started to bring prices down with farmerslosing $200 on an average animal.

Belinda-Jane Davis reports.

ARID LANDSCAPE: Farmer Danny Stork stands among the dry pastures at Glen Oak. Picture: Belinda-Jane Davis.

It’s strange to look around and the leaves on the trees are the most vibrant object on the horizon.

Drought isn’t a scenario we encounter often in the Lower Hunter.

I’ve lived on the land my whole life and I’ve experienced way more floods than droughts, but here we are battling a crippling drought that resembles the dry times of the early 1990s.

The further you travel into the countryside from Maitland the more the landscape dramatically changes.

There are barren pastures, dry dams andhungry cattle.

Already two Slow Food Earth Market Maitland farmers are totally out of water and another is relying on suitable salinity levels in the Hunter River to keep vegetable and lucerne crops alive.

Tom Christie and Dominique Northam, who have a farm near Dungog, had been using a dam to irrigate their crops until it went dry.

WATER SHORTAGE: Tom Christie and Dominique Northam pictured at the Slow Food Earth Market in Maitland during better times last year. Picture: Jonathan Carroll.

“The dams are dry everywhere around here,” Ms Northam said.

“We haven’t had decent rain since autumn last year,” Mr Christie added.

Oakhampton farmer Austin Breiner has lost most of his crops because of a lack of water and is carting water to the property to keep some tomatoes and eggplants alive.

Matthew and Liam Dennis are closely monitoring salinity levels in the Hunter River so they canirrigate their crops.It’s the driest Matthew has seen it since he moved to East Maitland 28 years ago.

After months with little –or no rain –the land isscreaming out for it.

Unrelenting hot weather during January has also burdened farmers, ripping moisture out of the groundand forcing the grass to die more quickly.

BIG DRY: The hot weather helped killed off pastures more quickly. Picture: Belinda-Jane Davis

While it often brought storm clouds, and lightning shows on the horizon, there was precious little rain and on the rare occasions when it did fall, it wassporadic.

When grey clouds formed this week hopes went up, but there is barely any rain predicted.

It’s a frustrating situation for the Stork familyat Glen Oak -29 kilometres out of Maitland – who desperately need decent rain.

Five of their six dams are dry and the many creek beds are barren.

WATER SHORTAGE: Five of the six dams on the Stork property at Glen Oak are dry. Picture: Belinda-Jane Davis

The paddocks are scorchedand there are only 20 bales of hay left in the shed.

Their 100 head of cattle are being hand fed light rations in the hope that rain will come soon.

If it doesn’t, and they run out of water, they’ll be forced to sell the entire herd.

If their water supply holds on they can buy in hay, but that’s a very expensive, short-term option.

Farmer Danny StorkEveryone’s in survival mode waiting for that good fall of rain. We have to get a break in the weather and we have to keep our eyes looking to the sky and hoping. We want 100 millimetres pretty much straight away. We usually get a break in February so let’s hope that happens,

Tony Bowe

Cattle prices atthe saleyards have fallen 80 cents to $1 a kilogram, compared with this time last year,and will continue to fall if nothing changes.

That means farmers are losing around $200 on an average animal, and if it stays dry, that figure will rise.

The drought is confined to the Hunter so there are still buyers from across NSW, and some from interstate.

“There are still pockets of feed around, the New England has been pretty good and south of the state into Victoria has been very good so there are still plenty of places to go with cattle,” he said.

STOCK IN TROUBLE: Hungry cattle.

“With the transport out there today you can buy a B-double load of cattle in Maitland yesterday and they would be in Victoria today.”

Rain has been scarce in Maitland since July when 0.5 millimetres fell.

October brought the best rainfall with 89.5 millimetres and there was 39.5 millimetres in November and 29.5 in December, but it hasn’t been enough.

Between July and December Maitland received 175 millimetres – half the rain that usually falls. It was the lowest rainfall for that period since 2012.

Mr Bowe said farmers making hay werefeeling the pinch if they could not irrigate.

“A farmer who would normally get 140 to 150 bales of lucerne is now down to getting 40 to 50,” he said.

Maitland Mercury

Girl, 12, booked after LA school shooting

Posted on 12/17/2018

A 12-year-old girl has been taken into custody after two students were shot at a Los Angeles school.Jordan Valenzuela was in class when he heard a bang then screaming from the next classroom where a 15-year-old boy had been shot in the head, a 15-year-old girl was shot in the wrist and others were struck by broken glass.

Jordan told The Associated Press that his 12-year-old classmate at Salvador B. Castro Middle School in Los Angeles told him it was an accident.

The sobbing girl told him: “I didn’t mean to. I had the gun in my backpack and I didn’t know it was loaded and my backpack fell and the gun went off,”‘ the seventh-grader said.

The girl was taken into custody minutes after the shooting at around 9am on Thursday.

TV video from helicopters showed a dark-haired girl in a sweatshirt being led from the school in handcuffs.

Police interviewed the girl and agreed it was an accident. On Thursday evening the girl was booked into Juvenile Hall on suspicion of negligently discharging a firearm on school grounds.

Police haven’t said from where the girl got the semi-automatic handgun or why she brought it to the downtown campus.

Five people were injured in the shooting. The most seriously hurt was a 15-year-old boy who was shot in the head but doctors said the bullet didn’t hit anything vital or life-threatening.

“This child was extremely lucky,” said Dr. Aaron Strumwasser at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Centre. “I anticipate he’ll make a full recovery.”

A 15-year-old girl was shot in the wrist but Strumwasser said the injury was minor.

Three other people had minor face or head injuries, some from broken glass, but weren’t shot, officials said.

An 11-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl were treated at the hospital and released while a 30-year-old woman who is a school staff member had only minor injuries, police said in a statement.

Jordan Valenzuela said he and other children began trying to help the victims and he noticed his friend sitting at her desk with her hands covering her face.

Jordan said later, the girl asked him to hide the backpack with the gun in it.

“I said ‘No,”‘ he said. “Then I moved away from her because I was a little bit scared.”

But, he said, “she doesn’t do bad things, she just stays quiet.”

Claudia Anzueto, Jordan Valenzuela’s mother, said she feared for her son’s life and “it scared the life out of me.”

Some officials used the shooting to call for gun safety legislation and others said it should give gun owners pause.

“This is a very important call to action to every adult in our community who has a gun,” City Attorney Mike Feuer said.

“You must store it safely and keep it out of access for any child to reach. It could result in a tragedy.”

ADVERTISING FEATURE: Debut models on display

Posted on 12/17/2018

ADVERTISING FEATURE INTRODUCING: The affordable new single-axle Coastal caravan range that can be towed by many popular mid-sized cars and SUVs, will also be popular with Newcastle Expo visitors,

Bailey ’s expanded 2018 range of lighter and more luxurious caravans will make their first public appearance at the Newcastle Caravan & Camping Expo.

A highlight for visitors to the Bailey (NSW) stand (number 206 on the Expo map) will be the n debut of the locally design, tested and built Rangefinder Capricorn and the affordable new single-axle Coastal range.

A standout feature of the new tandem-axle Capricorn is its luxurious rear Club Lounge, surrounded by panoramic windows for spectacular entertaining.

Other uber-luxury features include a separate Queen-size front bedroom, a central gourmet kitchen, separate shower, toilet bathroom, laundry, 210 litres of total fresh water capacity, separate front and rear tunnel boots and – for the first time on a Bailey caravan – an optional slide-out BBQ for relaxed outdoor living.

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Bailey Bailey ’s affordable new single-axle Coastal caravan range that can be towed by many popular mid-sized cars and SUVs, will also be popular with Newcastle Expo visitors, where it will be seen in public for first time on the Bailey (NSW) stand.

Weighing in at an ultra-light 1600kg, yet featuring a slide-out exterior kitchen, a separate shower and toilet bathroom, twin 105 litre fresh water tanks, huge ground clearance, a full tunnel boot and up to 900kg carrying capacity, both Coastal models feature the same patented ultra-strong and lightweight patented Bailey Alu-Tech construction and come with Bailey’s industry-leading 10-year water ingress warranty.

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The Show also marks the second anniversary of Bailey (NSW) Pty Ltd, which was established in Morisset in 2016 as the first of three fully-owned and operated Bailey factory dealerships now located in NSW, Victoria and Queensland.

In addition to sales of new Bailey caravans and used caravan sales, the Morisset dealership located at 21 Advantage Ave also specialises in the servicing and repair of European and n caravans, while also offering short and long-term caravan storage.

Kangaroo: A Love-Hate Story is already firing up US audiences, now it’s coming to Oz

Posted on 12/17/2018

Reportedly, the film’s second half features footage of mass kangaroo shootings and joeys being beaten to death to save bullets. Pictured here are a flock out near Broken Hill this week. Photo by Rachael Webb. n farmers and animal activists are already bruised froma long and bitter brawl over kangaroos. Aconfronting new movie heading for our shores is likelyto kick offfresh fury.

Visceralfootage of kangaroos being culledis on its way to n screens after shocking sold-out American audiences over the past couple of months.

Early US reviews warnthat Kangaroo: A Love Hate Storydetails brutal, confronting animal slaughter. Others, meanwhile, describe it asanti-meat advocacy “that’s most likely to convince you if you already believe”.

One prominent Western region farmerlosingthousands of dollars of pasture a year went one further, saying while he hadn’t seen it yet he wasresigned to the film being most likely suited to a “Pitt Street audience”.

Early US reviews warn that Kangaroo – A Love Hate Story details brutal, confronting animal slaughter. Others, meanwhile, describe it as anti-meat advocacy “that’s most likely to convince you if you already believe”. Photo via KangarooTheMovie苏州美甲

“Even now, from what I have read, I would confidently say that it will be (the filmmakers’) story, the farmers’ story, and the truth probably somewhere in the middle,” said Angus Whyte, Wyndham Station, between Broken Hill and Wentworth.

Kangaroo is currently showing in the US on the back of a festival run and will open here on March 15. Its n filmmakers, Michael McIntyre and Kate McIntyre Clere, explore the country’s deep divide over its national icon, examining population and spread, environmental concerns and livestock impacts, as well ascommercial harvesting.

Reportedly,the film’s second half features footage of mass kangaroo shootingsandjoeys being beaten to death to save bullets.

The kangaroo meat crusade of NSW Animal Justice Party MP Mark Pearson also features. Mr Pearson attended the film’s New York premiere in January.


Hundreds of roos on move captured in mesmerising videoFarmers see appalling scenes as roo population hits drought wallEarly American reviews foreshadow a provocative and brutal documentary that – while touching on the population concerns of farmers- can be fairly categorised as an eco-activist project. Mr McIntyre says he didn’t start the film with that as a goal. Outlets such as the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and Varietyhave praised the work.

The Hollywood Reporter, however, said Kangaroo was eye-opening “but frustratingly one-sided”.

“Here, we’re on similar ground with anti-meat films that use shocking images of factory farms to win people to their cause,” wrote critic John DeFore.

“That’s certainly fair in itself, but such appeals sit uncomfortably with the doc’s purely rational arguments, inspiring us to wonder how much of the other side’s case is being unfairly ignored”.

Meanwhile Angus Whyte said kangaroos were so abundanton his 31,000 hectare property they had costhim between $200,000 and $300,000 in pasture over the past year.

“The fact is kangaroos are out of balance and it is at the cost of the environment and other species, as well as the profitability of landholders and regional communities. You could look at footage of a cull and be mortified by some of that vision, as I would be.”

“So let’s say we do away with a cull. Along comes a drought or disease and farmer has to view these animals dying en masse in their paddocks anyway.

“But it’s not in Pitt Street so it doesn’t happen. Believe me, it is one of the most appalling things you can see.”

The Land