READER REPORT:

Drought before and after

CARL KNIGHT
Last updated 10:27 13/03/2013

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The reality of NZ's big dry

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As drought hits Carl Knight's lifestyle block in Rangitikei, he has had to kill and sell some animals, and cut back to showering every few days. See the graphic below for before and after drought photos of Carl's property.

My wife Louise and I bought our 10 acre property in 2009 on our return from England. This was our dream on returning from England - to become self sufficient.

The property had no infrastructure. We've put in place fences, races, pens, a milking plant for our Sanaan goats, and an observatory. Quite a substantial investment of our disposable income.

We farm Sanaan goats, Kune Kune pigs, Ryeland sheep, ducks, chickens, cats, a house cow and two dogs - one of whom works.

We have three children. 

We rely entirely on rain water to fill our tanks. The tank water has to do us, the troughs for the stock and any watering of any plants, etc.

The region had the driest November on record in 2012. We started water restrictions then in anticipation of a dry summer. These included:

- When you run a shower, run the first water whilst it warms up in to a bucket. That water can be used for watering the garden or plants, etc.

- No showers longer than five minutes.

- No flushing the toilet for number ones.

- When you brush your teeth, use only the water you need to rinse the sink.

- Don't run the tap down the plughole when you wash your hands.

We have friends with a house in Marton so we began getting water from there in buckets in the back of the ute, so we can continue to water our vegetable garden.

Despite our best efforts, we ran out of water in our tanks. It cost us $165 to get a tanker to fill one of our tanks.

We now only shower every second or third day - a wash will do any other time. I would not mind having just the inconvenience of only being able to water my garden every second day or something like that.

We are having to feed out the hay we cut at the end of November/beginning of December last year to ensure our stock have enough food. That means that this winter when we would normally have to feed out, we will be paying a premium for hay.

We have killed some animals that were destined for the freezer and we still have some lambs to do for food. We have sold other excess animals for a song.

We are fortunate that we don't rely on our land for our income, the reality is that it is all an inconvenience for us. That is not the case for local farmers many of whom we know.

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We don't run our property as a business, everything it produces is for ourselves so even if the government calls the obvious "a drought", we won't be eligible for any financial assistance. We will have to manage by reducing our stock numbers and paying for extra feed.

We need some good rain, not too much at once, but steady over a number of days and warm enough to get the grass growing again. I suspect that we will be needing to do some remedial work on our land to get the grass growing again.

I have heard it will take a good three years or so for the land to recover. 

Drought at Carl Knight's Rangitikei property - December 2012 compared to now.


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