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Community goes droving as it rallies behind a farmer battling drought and fire

Megan Hughes, Wednesday November 27, 2019 - 13:54 EDT
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Cattle - ABC

In a practical example of helping farmers, members of a small suburban community have helped a farmer move cattle out of a scorched paddock to greener pastures.

Linda Mapes has been leasing council land at Kinkuna Waters, about 50 kilometres south of Bundaberg, to house 70 head of cattle for the past five years.

"Everything's been wonderful — the cattle, we've had plenty of water, cattle feed, then the drought hit."

Almost 40 hectares of Mrs Mapes' land was completely burnt in the Woodgate Walkers Point blaze earlier this week; their fences were damaged and feed ruined.

"Feed is costing us close to a couple of thousand dollars a month so far, but I think now the fires have gone through Woodgate it's going to increase," Mrs Mapes said.

Help on hand

Despite the hardship, she has been counting her blessings; none of her cattle were injured or killed and she has been able to rely on the help of the community.

As well as the rural firefighters protecting the cattle during the blaze, some of their neighbours also helped protect their property.

"They had to fend and fight fires to look after their home and while they were doing that they hosed down all our cattle yards… and our cattle ramp."

Droving through the 'burbs

Kinkuna Waters was threatened by fire for three days. When the all clear was given, the cattle needed to be moved from the scorched paddock to one with greener pastures.

The community rallied behind them to move the animals from one side of the suburb to another.

Locals Rhonda and Dudley Shailer did not hesitate to put their hand up to help

"I've never been that close to a cow without a fence between us,"

"It was an eye opener to just see them follow the hay car and the dog doing his work was excellent," Mrs Shailer said.

Mrs Mapes said it went well even with a few hurdles.

"We did drive through hot ground and a few little flames. The cattle are smart they walked around it and went over to the cattle on the other side," she said.

Keeping cows cool

The Shailers' willingness to lend a hand started well before the fire came. They went above and beyond for their neighbour, filling up the Mapes' cattle trough when their dam ran dry.

"They didn't even hesitate to offer to supply water out of their town water," Mrs Mapes said.

"If you can help something or someone, you do it and that's just our attitude," Mrs Shailer said.

Mr Shailer said it began as a small gesture.

"To start with we just put a few tubs out but as it got hotter the few little tubs didn't cut it," he said.

"They ended up bringing a trough over so we could put water into it all the time and the cattle had plenty of water then.

"We'd go down to the roadside stalls and buy the sweet potato and come back and hand feed the cattle.

Mrs Mapes said their help made a huge difference.

"The water was just wonderful because that's just kept them alive," she said.

"Those people are just wonderful and you don't find people like that very often.

"A lot say they'll help but it's all talk but a lot do and that's the difference."


© ABC 2019

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