Of droughts and flooding rains

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror -
The wide brown land for me!

~My country by Dorothea McKellar~

Rain, if you ever meet an Australian farmer, rain will certainly be discussed, often in great detail  — either about the lack of rain or too much rain. There is rarely a conversation about just the right amount of rain, perhaps because it doesn't happen very often.

Growing up, we never missed listening to the weather forecast on the radio (wireless as my dad called it). Knowing what is happening with the weather is critical for every farmer, even those who are retired! When I speak to my dad (a former farmer from a long line of farmers) we always talk about the weather. At present we (where I live) have received very good rains, the dams are full and the grass is tall. It all sounds great — sadly no. Going into summer with lots of grass is bad news, as it is a huge fire risk and one we do not want. However, my dad lives in a region that is very dry and missed out on much of the winter rains. The grass is already dry and recently the mid-north of the state had a nasty fire in wheat country that killed one young man.

Too much rain ruins crops and too little rain can bring drought conditions and increases the chance of fire. In Australia, as the poem above says so well, we are land of of droughts and flooding rains.  My dad had good years with high yields, other years crops were ruins by hailstorms, by disease and in 1982 by a bushfire that almost wiped out the farm. 
The damage after the 1982 fires
Faith is required when you are a farmer. However, many prayers are not answered quickly. During those drought years one can pray for rain, but it may not come this week, or next week or even in a month, it might take several years before prayers are answered. At the end of one drought (in the 1980s) came a fire and as you can see in the photos above, the destruction was complete and no farming income came in that year or the next.  It doesn't mean God isn't listening or being vindictive, He just has other ideas that can be very difficult to comprehend. 

In some parts of Australia drought has gone on for years and many farmers have had no choice but to walk off the land in desperation. In parts of the Flinders Rangers in northern South Australia you will find many ruins such as the one above - farmers and their families tried so hard to farm this land, with no success. This isn't a story unique to Australia, many farmers during the depression in the US also walked off their land. Being a farmer takes a lot of courage, faith and strength, sadly some farmers are crushed under its weight. In fact suicide is higher in rural areas (per population) compared to the city - some farmers find the stress just too difficult. This is why farmers wives play such a critical role with their help.

In good years farmers put into action contingency plans such as building more dams, installing more large tanks to store water and create savings for those bad years. Many farmers wives work because they can bring in a steady income - these women, like my mother, never worked for a career, they worked hard to help run the farm. Life is tough in rural Australia and it really does take both the husband and wife as a team, to run a successful farm. For people like my dad, it wasn't a hobby, this was his livelihood, this is all he knew and both my parents had to make wise, God driven business decisions.

However the most difficult part is rejoicing in God regardless of how tough life can be, even during those terrible drought years. God is good all the time, even when it doesn't rain, or when mum has to go out to work or when crops fail or disease from too much rain.  



  1. It is very tough, Jo. I recently saw a photo from a farmer who was piling up the carcasses of the animals who had died from malnutrition due to the drought out west. We are not farming ourselves as you know, but we live in a very dry area - one of the driest in this part of the land. Last week when areas of SEQ saw rain, flooding and damage, we got about an inch of gentle rain while everywhere around us (literally, because we watched the storms and rains pass us on ALL sides) got abundant rain. It's so dead and dry here that even after that inch of rain, much of the grasses have remained dead. And other areas in Australia have it so much worse, with no rain at all. This year, we have received less than half of our usual average rainfall total - and with little of the year remaining, we don't expect we'll come close to catching up even if it does rain more. My heart goes out to those who try to make an income off their land. We grow food for ourselves, and we're thankful to have had enough rain in our tanks to water it up until now, but the tanks are rapidly emptying now.

    1. Its very hard Clara as God doesn't always provide the rain when its needed and farmers must have patience and it can mean months or perhaps years before a good fall arrives. We expect God to answer our requests quickly, but the one thing I have learnt, He doesn't (for His reasons) and that is most noticed when living on the farm. But He does provide the strength to get through those tough times. Making an income from the land is HARD work in those bad years but good when the weather does the right thing - the only way my parents got by was my mothers very regular income, and that is usual for many farmers (now and previously). I wouldn't want to be a farmers wife as its just too tough for me. I continue to pray for rain in your region as I know how much it is needed.

  2. Yes, God allows it to rain on the just and the unjust - and the opposite is equally as true - He allows drought for the just and the unjust. We frequently pray for the Lord to have mercy on those in drought conditions; it is a tough life.

    1. Soon after writing this we got a week of rain which I thought was a little funny. My garden is now very well watered and I won't need to water for a little while.

  3. This is a great post and I am excited to find another blogger in Australia. We live in Western Victoria where we have the benefit of rain and sunshine most of the time, but we did have a drought a few years ago for a fair while. I say that down here God gives us different weather every day so that we can complain every day about it. Down here we aren't happy when it rains and we aren't happy when it's hot. Maybe we should just try and be happy regardless of the weather. I agree with you being a farmers wife on big farms in Australia would be really tough, your whole year and crops and animals all depend on the weather. Sometimes it is hard to see Gods hand in it, but it always is. Thanks for sharing this great post at Good morning mondays and I look forward to reading more of your work. Blessings.

    1. Its true that people complain about the weather far too often - we are never content with what we get!! even if it isn't what we want, half the time we don't know what we want anyway!!!

      We have had a week of thunderstorms and rain which has been most welcome and the garden has certainly had a very good water which is a good thing in summer (saves on watering).

      Have a lovely week ahead - God bless.


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