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.
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.
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!
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.
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).
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.