A WANGI Men’s Shed delegation has returned from a visit to drought-stricken Merriwa shocked and vowing to return to the Upper Hunter community with more members to run an extended working bee to help time-poor farmers.
Men’s Shed members Richard Worsely and Richard Nicholson recently visited Merriwa to deliver a cheque for $9200, being the proceeds from the garage sale held at the Wangi shed on August 25 for drought relief.
What the pair saw in Merriwa shocked them.
“It was a very humbling experience,” Mr Worsely said.
“They’re doing it really tough.”
The drought has hit so hard that farmers are spending every available moment doing what they can to prevent their livestock from perishing.
It means that the farmers simply don’t have the time to tend to other concerns, including chores in and around their homes.
Mr Worsely said he observed a farmer’s car port that was on the verge of collapse. Several small gardens and lawns around the farmers’ homes had also become untidy.
“We’re looking at taking six guys up to Merriwa for a few days to do the jobs that the farmers haven’t got the time to do,” Mr Worsely said.
“Maybe we can tidy up around their houses and make it a bit nicer for them to come home to.”
Mr Worsely said the cheque was presented to the Merriwa branch of the Country Women’s Association (CWA) who would distribute the money to local farming families.
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“The contribution to drought relief by the Wangi Men’s Shed of $9200 was very well received, but fades into insignificance when the costs associated with running the farm are discussed,” he said.
“However, the farmers’ spirits and hopes are uplifted knowing that we are trying to help them, and that most city folk are aware of their predicament.”
Mr Worsely and Mr Nicholson visited the home of Merriwa CWA president Barbara Campbell, some 243 hectares split between grazing and cropping.
“The cropping is a disaster, and any crops that have been sewn are generally reduced to fodder for the sheep,” Mr Worsely said.
“We also witnessed the process of feeding the stock, which occurs every second day.
“Stalks from last year’s crop are mixed with lucerne, cotton seed, wheat, water and molasses. Calves are weaned as soon as possible as they are a big burden to their mother’s condition.
“Without rain there will be no further breeding, and so a year’s production will be lost until the breeding stock is back in a suitable condition.”
Mr Worsely said experienced farmers took what precautions they could to mitigate the impacts of drought.
“But they are very concerned for their future if the drought continues past November,” he said.
“And the local vet reminded us that income for the farmers will not start to materialise until 12 months or longer after the drought breaks.”
Mr Worsely and Mr Nicholson emphasised that the cheque they delivered was very much the result of the Wangi Wangi community’s generosity.
“We only organised the garage sale, it was the local people who donated items and who bought items and made donations. It’s the community who put their money into the cause,” Mr Worsely said.
The cheque continued a remarkable show of generosity from Wangi Wangi towards the farmers.
About $30,000 was raised by the ‘Buy a Bale’ campaign driven by Wangi Wangi’s Peter Coyne which culminated in a fundraiser at Wangi Hotel, and about $10,000 was raised through Wangi Workers Club for farmers in the Tamworth region, Mr Worsely said.
“That means this community has so far raised close to $50,000 for drought relief.”