What does dry mean to you?



Watching the sun rise behind the War Memorial yesterday, I had a sudden realisation: there is no drought on the St Kilda Road boulevard.

For one of the few times since our children were babies, I was on my own in the city, gazing dreamily at the traffic, trams and people below the hotel balcony.

It occurred to me that if you were one of the people whose lives pulse with the number 8 tram from the heart of the city to leafy Toorak and back every day, you’d never know it was dry. You might catch Landline and wonder what all the cockies were whinging about this time.

Unless you were a gardener, of course. Or the volunteer caretaker of the local sports ground. Or a bushwalker. Or, even, a concrete cowboy with a weekender on the Peninsula. Maybe you just had childhood holidays on an uncle’s farm that left you with a deep-rooted, almost subconscious, connection.

Actually, I realised, there are probably a lot of you speeding by down there who know and who care. I saw it in the comments following my plea for the CSIRO in The Guardian. There were so many who saw the same threats and shared the same hopes.

Others wondered aloud whether farmers were to blame for their own demise by voting for the National Party. I’m not sure but I suspect so many farmers do because we fear being forgotten in the city.

Perhaps it’s time we stopped emphasising the differences between city and country. I promise to work harder to weave my writing with threads common to us all.




Do you trust farmers? What with?

A Reader’s Digest poll has proclaimed farmers to be one of Australia’s most trusted professions. We come in at number 7, ahead of GPs and even our friends, the vets. Weather forecasters got their just desserts ;), ranking a miserable 26.

It’s a pleasant surprise, particularly given the much-discussed growing urban-rural divide.

In fact, we climbed two spots in the last year but I wonder whether this year’s poll was conducted before or after those shocking episodes of animal abuse at Indonesian abbattoirs were screened and whether this has changed the way Aussies feel about farmers.

I hope not. The farmers I know are sickened by the cruelty. Fortunately, I can sleep well knowing that none of our cows have been subjected to that treatment. Dairy heifers are sometimes exported to countries desperate to build their own herds with Australia’s world-leading breeding stock but are handled very carefully on the journey to ensure they arrive in peak condition.

I’d love to hear from you about all this. Why do you think farmers are so highly trusted?