What's Keeping Farmers Positive During Tough Times
Lambs in jumpers and sausage sizzles; meet the people doing their bit for the nation's struggling farmers.
As the worst drought in almost a century stretches on, it has never been harder or more important for our farmers to stay positive.
But from Australians armed with knitting needles to online communities offering support, here are just a few of the ways people are helping lift up the nation's farmers.
Jumpers For Lambs
One of the biggest impacts of the drought has been the subsequent struggle of farmers to keep livestock alive.
To lend a helping hand, hundreds of people have taken the time to knit and donate jumpers in order to keep orphaned or abandoned lambs and calves warm when their parents can't.
As the creator of Lamb Jumpers "Helping Our Farmers" Marie Knight -- a sheep farmer in Coonabarabran, NSW -- told ten daily, many ewes are giving birth to twins and struggling to care for both of them.
When an offer on social media to send out mini knitted jumpers she had left over from last year received an overwhelming response, Knight created the Facebook page to reach out to potential knitters everywhere.
Just two-and-a-half weeks later, the group has received over 900 jumpers from people the country over.
While the lambs are no doubt grateful for their new threads, Knight said the positive impact the initiative has had on farmers' spirits has been immense.
"The response from the farmers, just that somebody is thinking of them and cares enough about them and their stock to knit a jumper, the response and how good that is for them is just lovely," Knight said.
"Up until a couple of weeks ago it was getting very isolated in this drought. It was like nobody seemed to notice. Now look at the amount of people that care enough to make a jumper for a lamb -- don't tell me city people don't care."
Bunning's Sausage Sizzles
Droves of people flocked to local Bunnings sausage sizzles in support of Rural Aid's Buy A Bale Campaign on August 3.
There was no shortage of people willing to wait it out for the country's favourite hardware store snag after it was announced funds raised would go towards livestock feed and household essentials for drought affected families and communities in every impacted state.
Queues formed outside stores across NSW and ACT, and similar crowds are expected this coming Friday the 10th of August when BBQ's flare up again for the drought cause in the remaining states and territories.
Even when the wait was just a bit too long -- as comments on social media pointed out some waits exceeded 45 minutes -- people weren't deterred from donating what they could.
"Sorry peeps, couldn't wait that long for a sanger. Went home instead & bought a large bale of hay," one man wrote on Facebook.
Parma For A Farmer
Pubs, clubs and restaurants are also using the Aussie appreciation of a good meal to raise funds for struggling farmers.
Just when it didn't seem chicken parmigiana could get much better, Bendigo resident Amanda Kinross kicked off the Parma For A Farmer campaign.
With around 60 venues so far pledging to donate $1 for every Parma sold during August, the initiative has received quick and growing support in communities across the country.
Some venues have even extended their pledge, offering to continue the donations for the remainder of the year or donating as much as $5 per Parma.
Social Media Communities
While cash donations are undoubtedly crucial during these tough times, online communities offering support, information and at times a welcome moment of comic relief have also united the country's farmers.
Facebook pages including One Day Closer To Rain and One Bucket Of Hope are providing farmers with a platform to share their stories not only with each other, but with Australians who may otherwise have been unaware of the extent to which the drought is taking its toll.
With over 40,000 members collectively, these pages produce hundreds of posts each day, including discussions about how to overcome challenges on the farm, alerts to fundraising efforts and uplifting videos and photos of lighter moments.
If you want to help Australian farmers in need, you can donate to a registered charity. Donate online to Rural Aid's Buy a Bale, Drought Angels, Aussie Helpers or Lions' Need for Feed. You can also support farmers by buying Australian grown produce at your local supermarket.