Almost 100 farmers in Western NSW have been given a much-needed reprieve from the ongoing drought conditions with the donation of hay bales.
Last year, buskers filled 20 Charter Hall shopping centres, including Dubbo Square, collecting funds for drought-affected farmers within the local communities.
Every dollar donated by shoppers in the 'Dam Good' drought relief campaign was matched by Charter Hall, raising a total of $196,363.
All of the funds were donated to Rural Aid through the 'Buy a Bale' initiative.
On Monday, October 28, Charter Hall joined Rural Aid to donate 146 bales of 8x4x3 large squares hay bales to 18 Dubbo farmers.
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The previous week seven road trains provided hay to approximately 80 farmers in Narromine.
Dubbo farmer Luke Duncan received six hay bales that Monday. Before securing the hay, Mr Duncan and his family were down to the equivalent of one bale.
"With the sheep lambing and the cows calving and the weather being so wonderful it's just been pretty stressful," Mr Duncan said.
"It will keep us out of mischief for a little bit longer. And then maybe we'll be able to do something... maybe it will rain."
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About this time, two years ago was when the drought really started to take its toll on Duncan's family property.
"We pressed a whole heap of hay and thought we were reasonably fine...," Mr Duncan said, adding that the family had no inkling these dry conditions would be this hard or long.
They had 140 cattle and 120 sheep originally, but like many others in similar situations, have since had to de-stock.
The Duncan's are now down to 30 cows and calves and about 60 sheep and lambs.
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The local farming family have a small block of land and a couple of other small blocks that they share farm.
"Most of the time people don't think there's a problem (occurring) for people on small farms, but our cows are just as hungry as everyone else's," Mr Duncan explained.
"Because we're not very big we don't seem to fit into any bracket.
"We don't qualify for one reason or another."
Mr Duncan got emotional when he spoke about receiving the message from Rural Aid to say they would be receiving six hay bales.
"I could breathe again... there's been a lot of stuff going on lately and then to have someone come along and say 'here you go this will help a bit', is nice," he explained.
"It's just been very, very helpful to my peace of mind and well-being."
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Rural Aid business development manager Craig Marsh said ultimately only rain will help farmers, but what they're trying to do is support farmers in getting through the end of summer.
"So if we do get a bit of rain in autumn or pre-winter, they're in a a position where they can actually then start to get on with their lives," he said.
"We've been delivering out here (to the central west) since late last year. There's all these areas around which are all similarly affected, no-one seems to be worse than anyone else, but it's just bad."
Mr Marsh said the hay delivered on the Monday was fresh wheaten hay from South Australia.
He thanked Charter Hall, Dubbo Square and local shoppers for helping to contribute to the cause.
"It really is the community helping the community in this case, which is great," Mr Marsh.
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One of the messages Rural Aid is trying to get out was the drought hasn't ended.
"City people have a soft sport for county people, but unless we keep raising the fact (that parts of the country are still drought-affected) it becomes out of sight out if mind," Mr Marsh explained.
"Stock numbers are down and it's going to take at least two to five years to recover once we have good rain and good grass on the ground so this has got to be an ongoing process."
While hay was great for stock, Mr Marsh said it also provides farmers with mental relief.
"It's something that the farmer doesn't have to worry about for the next three to four weeks," he explained.