We are still here

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As things go from bad to worse on the farm, running becomes more of a haven.  While we were trying to sleep on Sunday night the rains began to fall.  The rains fell and fell and we woke to flooding like has not been seen here since the 1920s.

This milking season – July 2015 to June 2016 – has seen some new lows, that’s way down lows!

  • worst snow
  • worst bush fires
  • worst drought
  • worst drop in milk price
  • AND the worst flood

Seriously why would anyone farm?

But this is a blog about running so let’s talk running.  I’m going to tell you about a very wet soggy week that has featured some pretty dam(hehe)n fine running, if I do say so myself.  Running has been my happy place, my refuge, my special bubble of joy that I can enter when times are tough.

Monday

5km at 8pm in the dark down the farm roads.  Pauly thought I was nuts.  After a day of being flooded in and the farm employees flooded out I was forced to stay home from my paid job in Deloraine and milk cows with my Husband.  We were both so tired but I needed some exercise badly.  So off I went.  I ran until I hit the very edge of the flood waters, then turned around and ran home.  Just a smidge over 5km.

These are the three bridges near the farm

These are the three bridges near the farm on Monday

And here they are being repaired on Thursday

And here they are being repaired on Thursday

Me getting cows in for afternoon milking.

Me getting cows in for afternoon milking on Monday.

Tuesday

The flood waters were easing but our main access to Deloraine had serious damage, making the trip to work change from 15 minutes to 40 minutes.  These flood waters were making their way to the city of Launceston.  Back in 1929 there had been a severe and damaging flood that killed over 20 people and damaged my beloved birth place so badly that it took more than a decade to recover.  As a result an intricate levee system was built.  This levee system was used on Tuesday evening.  And it worked.  Take that statement in just for a moment.  It worked.  Yes there has been terrible damage in many places in Northern Tasmania, but the levee worked and saved the city.  But no running in Launceston on Tuesday with The Running Group.  I was so needing a decent run.  Pauly and I ran 13kms around Deloraine in the dark.  It was beautiful.  It revived my soul and I was happy!

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Kings Bridge in Launceston

 

Launceston's Cataract Gorge

Launceston’s Cataract Gorge this week

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How the Gorge usually looks

Wednesday

Launceston and surrounds were still on high alert.  Traffic was congested due to the different flood gates being closed and some roads and bridges closed as a result.  Wednesday is hill repeat night.  Louise and I ran a lovely undulating 5kms, zooming down the big hill.  Crossing the footbridge that had emerged from the flood waters sometime late on Tuesday.  The water was roaring and raging with angriness beneath us.  Up and around the river for a little bit but on the main road because the walking track was still submerged.  Then up up up the big hill on the other side of the river.  We reached the plateau then continued to run up and up and up to the very top.  Then we turned around and ran back.  Louie was still recovering from the cold we’ve all had, but she put her happy face on and we happily chatted and ran – but no chatting up those hills thanks!  Only puffing.

Flooding at the Deloraine River. The green foot bridge is just visible in the background.

Flooding at Deloraine’s Meander River. The green foot bridge is just visible in the background.

Debris washed up on a rail bridge.

Debris washed up on a rail bridge on the North West Coast.

Thursday

Rest day.  But guess what?  We went to the Air Supply concert in Hobart.  We zoomed down after work.  We nearly didn’t go.  We didn’t feel right about going off to enjoy ourselves when other around us are coping with such tragedy.  We bought the tickets months ago as a special treat.  I haven’t been to a concert since, well, since Air Supply were young!  About 30 years!  We went. It was good.  The problems are still here at home, they were waiting for us, but we had a little bit of time out.  The farm was in the care of our wonderful 2IC. (Air Supply is Pauly’s favourite band.  He chose two of their songs for our wedding, one of which was Two Less Lonely People, he’s a romantic my Pauly).

Friday

25kms around Hobart’s beautiful waterfront then up to the domain.  We were pooped.  I can’t say it was a good run but I had my happy face plastered on and I kept running and smiling.

Back home now and more reports of the devastation.  On this farm we’ve had massive damage to pasture.  This will mean special care of the cows because they don’t have sufficient grass to eat right now and more expense to give them different food options.  Milk production will be less.

Others have lost so much more.  The little town of Latrobe on the North West was completely inundated.  Homes and businesses were wrecked.  Dairy farms in the area were wiped out.  Cows were washed down the river and out to sea along with beef cattle, sheep and all livestock.  The floods came up so fast there was no time to prepare.  And they rose way way higher than they ever have before in the area.  Places that in the past were flood-safe were inundated.  Farm infrastructure such as water pumps, milking sheds, vehicles, EVERYTHING has been damaged or lost.  Bridges are missing.  The rail network lost bridges and tracks.  Latrobe is just one of many little towns that is suffering greatly due to the flooding.

Worst of all there are people missing feared dead.

A terrible week.  A sad week.  It will take our little island state years to recover.

Just on Monday we heard that a young dairy farmer in the area sold all his cows.  He made the heart breaking decision that he couldn’t keep going.

There is more to life than farming this is true.

But farming is more than a job

  • Farming is our employment
  • Farming is our home
  • Farming is our identity

We live and breath this country way of living.  It’s not a life style.  It’s a way of life that permeates everything that we do and when we do it.  Even running must work around the farming calendar and the needs of the animals.

When a farmer decides to stop farming it’s more than changing jobs.  We have to find a new home and a new way of thinking about ourselves.

Please don’t think that Pauly and I are down in the dumps.  We have our moments.  If you look very closely at the palms of our hands you will see the strength and callused skin from pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps.  If you look closely beside us you will see our long-suffering friends and our family who never cease to lift us up and make sure we are ok.  And we are ok.  We really are.

2015 – 2017 season – when the going gets tough the tough get going.  You may well have thrown the worst of all seasonal changes that you can throw at as.  BUT WE ARE STILL HERE.  Maybe only just, but we are still here.  And thanks to our running we are not quite as psycho as we might be.  We will survive!  Not only that, we’re going to thrive, just watch us!  What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And don’t forget bad nasty weathery thingies: WE ARE MARATHONERS! WE ARE TOUGH!

A bad week yes, but a wonderful week of running that’s provided that much needed distraction and balm to two weary farming souls.  Take off gumboots, put on running shoes.  Nothing changes when the gumboots go back on, but we get a rest and get to do something happy that has nothing to do with farming. Running ❤

Happy running 🙂

PS no parkrun for us tomorrow, we have to stay and work on the farm but I’ll be putting in a nice country 5km and then on Sunday it’s the Launceston 10.  Peak week of running before Gold Coast Marathon – yep, I’ve managed that so far 🙂

PPS this post has been a vent, if you made it all the way to the end thank you.  Next time you’re out this way I’ll make you a wonderful hot chocolate with fresh farm milk as a thank you!

PPPS some photos stolen from different facebook sites, ABC Northern Tasmania and Meander Valley.

29 thoughts on “We are still here

  1. It’s been such a terrible week for Tassie and I have thought of both of you and the farm many times.
    I’m glad to read that running has been soothing and an brief escape from all the worries and hard work you are dealing with.
    Your post was certainly full of the emotion and the difficulties facing farmers but in no way was it a vent, just an honest account.
    My thoughts are with you and all those affected by the floods, especially those families who have lost loved ones.

    • I owe you a hot chocolate Sam. We are so much better off than others. I had lots of chats with Deloraine people this week. One lady told me that they have lost their whole herd. And no power for a few days. She looked so completely lost. It broke my heart.

  2. An amazing, heartfelt post with photos to help us, your followers, understand what you’re going through. Farmers are my heroes – because of you, we are sustained. May running and farming and the lovely cows continue to sustain you!

  3. Your post is so honest Annie, I really feel for you and Paul. You are true heroes and your spirit is amazing. May you continue to find solace in your running and each other. Look after yourselves and thanks for sharing your week with us. X

  4. Thank you for sharing. Farmers have always had to be “tough” and not always treated right/fair but where would we be without them? I’m so glad you both are OK! Mother Nature plays no favourites that’s for sure. You are both such wonderful people (last Feb, we had the wonderful experience of meeting you both and enjoying your hospitality) and even through tough times, you stay positive. Amazing! Stay safe and keep running! You both are an inspiration! HUGS!

    • Thanks for the hugs Cherie, we’re going ok, so much better off than others, way better off! Today it’s raining again and there is snow down to 400m (the farm is at 300m). These are testing times but so far we’re making it through. We will always remember your visit with such happiness. We LOVED having you both and the other travels come and stay with us xxx Thanks for the hugs.

  5. In tragedy you have stayed positive, so impressive. You and all the Tassie residents are in my thoughts and prayers! p.s. your running even in those odds is inspiring!

  6. Oh Annie it’s so heartbreaking reading your words and those photos! Cataract George isn’t even recognizable! We are sending our love and so hoping that both of you and those near you catch a break soon. We fell in love with Tasmania during our amazing days with you. This is heartbreaking.

    • Thank you Sue. Do you remember a café at the pool end of the Gorge? The public facilities are underneath and the café is on top of the building. There was water lapping at the windows of the café. I grew up just above the Gorge and have been to see the flood water many times. I’ve never seen it this high. But we are ok. We’re getting through. Us humans are pretty tough and we haven’t been hit anywhere near as hard as some of our farming community members.

      • Oh Annie I just read your note to Dave and our mouths both dropped open. Yes we do remember the building very well! Hard to even fathom that much water.
        You are tough indeed and glad to hear you are hanging in. So truly sorry to hear of so much devastation in your beautiful Tasmania. 😦

      • We are just back from the Launceston 10. After the race a group of us had brunch in one of our favourite cafes that is inside the levee wall. Across the river we could see the clean up going on in the two boat houses used by rowing clubs (one is located in the ground floor of the venue for Anna’s wedding). They were cleaning up. We were sitting in an area that was inundated by water during the week. You wouldn’t know it. The river is still way high and there is huge debris floating down but what a resilient bunch we humans are. The café was all clean and you’d never know that it had been flooded. We’ll all get back on our feet eventually 🙂 Thanks for your lovely warm thoughts and wishes, they go such a long way to buoy us up!

  7. Also been thinking of you on the farm, the floods on top of everything else is cruel. It seems more personal to read it in post like this rather than headlines on the news. As a consumer what can we do to REALLY help the farmers? Is buying branded milk/products the answer?
    PS my running week has been completely stalled by a head cold, can you run 30k and cough at the same time? I’ll find out Sunday,

    • Thanks Jo-Anne. I had a big vent in this post about buying local (whatever local means to each of us) but it was getting way too far away from running so I axed it. You are so right, we all need to buy local or the local producers won’t be around for long. We know from bitter experience that the only ones with money to invest in dairying right now are international corporates. This terrifies me. When all our food is controlled by big companies what will happen to the price and quality? Oh dear, on soap box again! Buying branded milk sends a message to the supermarkets that their customers are becoming aware of the issues and that they don’t like it. I have changed how I shop particularly with eggs and bacon (hehe). I was shocked to find that our local supermarket was selling international bacon when we have two pig farms in the area.

      Oh no a head cold! Take care. I have run with a head cold and a cough and found that while I was running I was ok, but afterwards I was rather unwell. Be careful xxx

  8. I was worrying about your cows getting trench foot, then I read about livestock (and possibly people) being swept out to sea. That’s so awful. It’s been a bad year for weather overall. We had floods like never before this winter and like you say, if the pasture gets damaged, no grass no hay no food summer or winter for livestock. Although we aren’t farmers we are surrounded by farms and the land and livestock are part of our identity too as our environment even though we don’t own or maintain it. It matters to us all🙂 On the bright side I saw a tiny calf today, he must have been a late arrival galloping around a field. He was so full of joy. I hope thinks pick up for everyone in Taz soon😘

  9. Good grief, Annie. I really struggled to hit the *like* button. You’ve been dealt a miserable hand in the past year! The pictures of Cataract Gorge says it all 😦
    Surely things have to start improving from here!!

    Sending you my very best wishes!

  10. My bestie used to live in Launceston and Devonport where her family still are so I have in my mind pictures happening of the areas you mention, in particular Latrobe. Heartbreaking.

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