Drought: The Red Marauder by Michael McKernan

By Michael McKernan

The tale of drought, instructed during the eyes of people that have lived via droughts over the greater than 2 hundred years of eu payment - a narrative of creativity, patience and agony.

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10 It is a sad tale, and surely not an uncommon one, but it is important to recognise that Albert Field was no ‘whingeing Pom’, sorry for himself and the circumstances in which he had placed his family. Partly it might have been his intense religious faith, perhaps an ingrained optimism, but his letters give every impression, despite the difficulties of the life, that he was enjoying it. In August 1877 Albert admitted that he had not prospered as he would have hoped because of his health, ‘my lack of experience’, and a bit of bad luck like the fire.

There were more pressing problems. Albert Field was a most unlikely farmer; a religious man, but that is no bar to the farming life; more a weak man physically, and inexperienced. Yet he had capital and will and he thought the farming life would be good for him. He wrote modestly about his life, minimising his trials, underplaying his achievements. But thankfully he wrote in detail, thoughtfully and with a humanity that remains just as attractive more than 100 years after he first wrote to his family and friends at home.

The muddy bed of the Loddon puts the climax to their sufferings. ’ At Reedy Lake the shire council employed men just to pull sheep out of the mud: ‘a selector living close to Kerang can count 17 of his small flock of sheep standing in the mud erect, but dead’. A cow standing in the mud was alive but ‘stuck immobile . . the surface being caked so hard that it could only be broken with a pick’. 30 52 ‘The worst thing we could have entered upon to make money by’ A selector at Boort, south of Kerang, wrote of having to cart his water from Lake Leaghur, 16 miles (25 kilometres) away: In other words, we drag our horses 32 miles [50 kilometres] every day to obtain water for ourselves and the little stock that we have not given away for less than half value.

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