A tough stretch of time
It’s been four years since Rhonda’s quad bike last started. Over those four years, she and husband Tony have pushed through a difficult drought, devastating mouse plague and the isolation and financial pressures of the pandemic.
Their situation had already been difficult.
“We’ve got a mine just over the road and we just can’t get help because a lot of the young fellas go over. So we do struggle.”
To keep the farm going takes the entire day, and the list of extra jobs only grows longer; equipment breaks down, weeds spread over paddocks and the couple don’t have time to get on top of it. Nothing is getting easier and Rhonda acknowledges that age has limited how much her and Tony can do. This forces them to consider some difficult decisions.
“It’s very hard getting shearers – so much so that you sort of wonder, “Well, do we go out of (the sheep industry)…which is not what we want to do.”
Giving a helping hand
For a few days, Rhonda and Tony are able to set aside their worries. In partnership with Frontier Services, three volunteers from the NRMA – Glen, Jason and Sarah – arrive to finish jobs that are too big, too hard or simply forgotten. Over three days they complete a huge amount of mechanical work, strip the burrs from 40 acres of land and bond over their collective love of The Eagles.
“It’s not all about giving you a hand with what you need done around the farm. It’s just having somebody to talk to, somebody to lift your spirits.”
“We really needed a lift.”
By the end of the trip, Rhonda’s bike is being lowered off the garage workbench, onto the ground. Jason tugs on the ignition and it roars to life.
“First pull!” Tony yells excitedly, as Rhonda runs out from the house clapping her hands and laughing.
Having an extra bike to use around the farm is handy, but it’s the presence and companionship of the NRMA volunteers that has had the biggest impact. Rhonda is sad to see the group go but appreciates what they’re leaving her and Tony with.
“It’s reinvigorated us.”
If you would like to support more farmers like Rhonda across rural and remote Australia, call us on 1300 787 247 or go online and make a donation today.