It was a rough week. Mum started chemo. I searched for Bessie out on the farm (which we used to own but sold a while ago now) and had no luck. And I saw what has happened to my childhood farm.
I drove out to the old property and saw my old home for the first time. It used to be an oasis of green, loved. Now, it’s surrounded by dead lawn. Some of the bigger bushes and trees are alive, but a lot is dead. The house is covered in dust and spider nests. Many of the firebreaks we had around the house to protect it from bushfire are gone.
A good bushfire-safe home must have a tin roof (eucalyptus trees with all their oils love to spit out fire balls) and be surrounded by lawn. Outside the entire perimeter of the large garden you must have dirt – be it dirt roads or scarrowed land – on every side of the home. This acts as a firebreak. Without these 3 things, your house will burn if it is the path of the fire. Outside the firebreak you have a treeline to protect you from dust storms. These are quite far from the home.
(My aunt and I saw this 2 weeks ago. We drove towards it (along with loads of other cars) to find out it help was needed. It turned out to be a controlled crop burn. We breathed a sigh of relief. )
I’ve seen bush fire rage through a paddock of golden wheat in 20 minutes flat. And I’ve seen plenty of bushfires on our property over the years. So, I don’t really think they (new owners) have thought it through at all.
Banks are buying up huge (I’m talking tens of thousands of acres) swatches of land around Forbes. They are planting crops for their investors. They have pulled down all the fences inside the property and burned most of the trees in order to maximize every square meter for profit making.
I don’t know what they will do if they decide to sell the land. You can’t put sheep or cattle on it. No fencing, no shade for the animals. I’m also very worried about it from an environmental perspective.
(This photograph is looking out from the workshop. All that land is being prepared to plant a new crop.)
There weren’t many places for Bessie to be. There aren’t many trees left anywhere. She wasn’t around the old homestead. I searched all the dams and water holes near the entry road, as she loves being near water.
We also searched the stockroute outside of the property. Stockroute is honest to goodness Australian bush. It is also called the Queen’s Land, (as in the Queen of England Land ) as it can’t be bought or sold. It’s called the stockroute as you can take cattle or sheep droving on it. You do this if you have drought in your area and can’t feed them. Often it is the only way to keep them alive, taking them to a greener area far away from you.
(This is a photo of a dam in the stock route. My Dad was actually paid to build this during drought years decades ago.)
I always said if things got much worse (back in my very scary health days) I’d get myself a motorbike, 6 dogs from the pound, a vehicle to live out of and go droving. “With my swag’all on my shoulder, black billy in my hand. I’ll travel the bushes of Australia like a true born ….” An old colonial song comes to mind.
But I never did. So it must have been just talk going on in my head. One of those fantasy life options you flesh out in your mind ~ when your lying in bed really ill thinking there must be a better way to live than what I’m doing right now. Thank goodness those days are over.
Everything has been done to find Bessie. We have had no luck. Notices went up at the vets. Ads put on the radio. She is a very friendly dog and I think someone has taken her. I trust she is in a good home. I haven’t given up all hope of finding Bessie, but I do think she is gone. Read my Packing Up the Farmhouse article and my original Bessie Has Gone Missing.
Seeing the old childhood home the way it was. My mother started her first chemo treatment after her operation. (I am staying in Forbes, looking after her. I haven’t made it up north yet to find a place to live. I am in between homes, so to speak.) Then not finding Bessie all got to me. And I melted into an emotional heap.
Thank you for the hundreds and hundreds of well wishes on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. I have been flooded with your kindness. I wish I could reply to each of you but there are too many.