When our volunteers show up to a farmer’s gate, they display the power of a helping hand. The joy goes both ways. Blokes like Brad welcome us into their homes to help out. In return, our volunteers get to see what country hospitality is all about – morning tea, a friendly chat and some hard, honest work. It’s enough to bring a smile to a farmer’s face and forge connections that make a difference to people’s lives.
Finding time to get through all the work is one of the hardest things Brad confronts day to day on his family farm, 100km away from Condobolin, in central west NSW. And natural disasters haven’t made his life any easier. In 2017, it “just stopped raining” and a drought struck that Brad sums up with one word – “atrocious”.
Before long, there was nothing left for the livestock to graze on. For two years, Brad and his wife Beck had to feed their sheep and cattle every single day, to stop them starving. The arid conditions also destroyed vehicles and machinery on the farm, adding to his outstanding jobs while making others harder to do.
“When we had the long drought, things break,” Brad points out. “You park them under a tree and think, ‘Oh, I haven’t got time now. I’ll get back to that. And then it’s overwhelming.”
Being an hour’s drive from the nearest town meant Brad can’t simply phone a local mechanic or electrician to help. “It’s very hard to get them to drive this far out,” he says. “That’s one of the hardest things, getting services from people that you need.”
More than a helping hand
So Brad was extremely thankful recently when Frontier Services and our long-term partner NRMA visited with a group of volunteers, including mechanics. By the time they said goodbye, after a whirlwind of hard slog, all the break-downs were back running again.
“Those blokes came out and they were incredible, they’ve fixed everything,” he praises. “It’s put a spring back in my step. If I want to go and use something I know it’ll work.”
Countless farmers like Brad are still doing it tough to put food on our shelves. At the same time, many are being pushed off the land because the pressures are too great – drought, isolation and debt to name a few. Sometimes a friendly visit can be make or break. It really goes to show the power of a helping hand.
In his own community, Brad has seen the worst that can happen when people are isolated from the support they need. Just over a year ago, a mate his age began quietly withdrawing into his shell. Tragically, his friend committed suicide.
Now Brad’s determined to giving others a hand when they’re struggling. And knowing the enormous difference this makes, he feels even more grateful to our volunteers.
“I think that’s just the Aussie way of life,” he says. “You see someone that needs help, you help them.”