Drought takes final toll on heartbroken couple
TURNING a blind eye is what Barbara Marsden and husband Ian had to do after destocking their entire property.
Mrs Marsden said the couple sold all of their 'beloved' sheep in September last year, after the effects of the drought took its final toll.
"It wasn't fair to hear them hungry every night and we couldn't afford to be constantly feeding them three bags of feed a day.
"We sent them off to market and got very little for them because they went very special sheep as they were to us.
"It's the first time in all the years we have lived here and had no animals," she said.
The couple have been living at their Applethorpe property for more than 15 years, maintaining 90 acres of land.
"We originally started off with just cattle because we bought them off the previous owners.
"After that we expanded to sheep and just fell in love with them," she said.
"We are very mums and dads' types of farmers. We don't do it for the money we just farm because we love them and to keep the grass down."
The cattle were the first to go in 2018, when Mrs Marsden decided the upkeep was too demanding for the pair.
"We increased our sheep flock then and got up to about 45 of them.
"It was very dry and were hand feeding them at this point," she said.
But as time went on and rain failed to fall she said the pair made the heartbreaking decision to destock the entire flock.
"We had names and numbers for them all so we very attached."
More than six months on, she said she sees it as a 'bittersweet moment'.
"I empathise with anyone who has farming as a livelihood, and for people like us who just love their animals.
"We didn't want to get to the stage when you have invested so much money into feeding them and you can't back out of it," she said.
Since destocking Mrs Marsden said her property has never looked healthier, hoping to eventually introduce animals back in the near future.
"The ground having time to recover is good. It will allow for some of the good grass to grow through.
"I'm very optimistic about the district now.
"I'm hoping the times have changed and we can move forward."