The wet weather the Northern Rivers has been experiencing lately, is just a little too close for comfort for Penny Newbold.
Almost exactly one year ago, our little farm was inundated in the very widespread Aussie east coast 2017 flooding event. Like really inundated. Like well over my head (I’m 170cm) inundated.
It’s amazing how disaster brings out the true nature of our beloved four-legged friends, and you discover just how they would have fared in the ‘survival of the fittest’ wild.
Often the discovery is unfortunately that your ‘wild’ animals are probably best off staying in a domestic environment!
Fortunately, the hubby had the foresight to plan for the worst case scenario (unlike my ‘she’ll be right!’ attitude, which had got us through life up until that point), and despite my pleas to use the funds for other more important purposes – like upgrading the float or tow vehicle, or, preferably both – he invested in the building of a flood ‘mound’ on our property.
I now refer to this as the ‘million dollar mound’. Which is probably a small exaggeration, but it did save us a huge amount of grief, not to mention cash, which has meant that its certainly has warranted its nickname. Not a large area, approximately 16m x 25m, that ‘mound’ proved to be worth far more than it’s (soil) weight in gold.
During the flood, while we were completely cut off from civilisation and surrounded by nearly two metres of water, that mound housed: Eight horses (including one foal), two cars, a float (filled to the roof with all of the associated rugs, tack, feed and gear), a tractor, a slasher and a ride-
on lawn mower. Not to mention the cow and calf that arrived sometime in the middle of the night, having swum from a neighbouring property.
Like I said – the million-dollar mound.
I’m sure the horses, underneath their highly disdainful exterior at the time, were very appreciative of ‘the mound’, where they could at least keep their tootsies dry(ish). This definitely beat the alternative of being forced to develop their swimming skills, like too many other stock from nearby properties were forced to do. A few of them, we discovered when the flood waters receded had come from as far as 30km further down the river.
Mind you, it took quite a bit of convincing (and serious manhandling) to get George the TB to agree to climb on ‘the mound’ at 3am in the pouring rain. He was certain he actually would prefer to spend his time in water deep enough to reach over his shoulders. And he’s a mere 17.2hh.
The 12hh pony however was the first to perch herself on the highest point of the mound and proceeded to make nasty faces if anyone else even looked like trying to share it with her. She very much proved two things. Firstly, ponies are tough as nails and secondly, that height is not necessarily a reliable indicator of survival intelligence!
Amazingly enough, everyone and everything survived and saw the other side of this little disaster relatively unscathed.
And yes, sometimes at least, the hubby does know best (just don’t tell him I admitted it!)
Penny’s Place a monthly column in HubVines – this from April 2018