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SA town of Pinnaroo celebrates first good rain in three years

Laura Collins, Tuesday June 18, 2019 - 06:32 EST
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Pinnaroo farmer and Country Fire Service captain Jeremy Schutz. - ABC

Farmers smiling and small businesses buzzing — that is what you will see if you walk down the main street of any farming community's township after it has rained.



Heavy rain fell in regional South Australia just one day last week, with some communities reporting

For the 700-strong South Australian town of Pinnaroo, the fall of about 35 millimetres was perfectly timed to help local farmers' crops grow.

But the downpour was not just a positive for farming businesses — it also gave the men and women who work the land a much needed psychological boost.

Long-awaited rain's arrival brings relief

The Southern Mallee region has been in drought for nearly three years.

The last heavy winter/spring rain was recorded in September 2016.

Pinnaroo grain grower Corey Blacksell said rain meant life to farmers in the region.

"You just have to walk down the street and the farmers are bumping into each other and [asking] 'how much rain did you have' and saying 'how good is this'," he said.



"It takes the pressure off and the stress of wondering when the next rain is coming.

"We've probably got two months up our sleeve of just average or below average rain and we are not going to be too worried.

"As the months warm up and the crops put on their growth, we'll then be starting to look for rain. But until then we are pretty stress free for a while."

A first-time drought farmer

Pinnaroo grazier and local Country Fire Service captain Jeremy Schutz also welcomed the rain.

Mr Schutz said he had been back living and working on his family farm for 10 years, but had not fully understood the challenges that droughts presented until last year.

"Dad was saying, and grandpa was saying, 'it was worse than the '82 drought', which they lived through," he said.

"For me to go through it, I guess it was a good wake up call that it's not always going to be good.



"We had to buy in grain to try and get the sheep up because we just didn't have the feed.

"Our main sheep property just did not have a blade of grass on it at all last year, so we had to de-stock."

Wider farming community breathes a sigh of relief

Mr Schutz said farmers were not the only ones who needed the rain and that the regional town centre also experienced a sense of relief and joy after the event.

He said the rain also had a positive impact on shop owners.

"Small businesses and local businesses always talk about the rain because if it rains then people and farmers are willing to spend money," Mr Schutz said.



Pinnaroo bakery's owner Dennis Gniel said a rain day made his job a lot more enjoyable.

"It makes it a bit better when everyone is happy," he said.

"It's the first time I've seen people smiling for a long time."

The real impact of drought

In 2018, the Medical Journal of Australia released a report which discussed the drought-related stress that farmers in non-metropolitan New South Wales experienced.

identified that farmers experienced significant stress about the effects of drought on themselves, but also their families and their communities.

It also identified that younger farmers who live and work on farm are particularly at risk of drought-related stress.



Mr Blacksell said after seeing the rain fall on his property, it really made him realise how much stress he had been under.

"We stress in different ways and we don't even realise were stressing, it is just part of what we do," he said.

"It is a unique business to be in where you are totally reliant on mother nature and you have no control over when it is going to rain.

"All you can do is manage the things that go around your agronomics and being more water efficient.

"You can't control the rain and it is a unique personality that can deal with those stresses."


- ABC

© ABC 2019

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