Here is a personal story on the effects of rural living in times of hardship as written by Tongalas own resident childrens author Susie Sarah
My Little Sister
By Susie Sarah
I always believed that women who took on farm work and rearing a family were our greatest national heroes. Working in isolation with often little support from family and friends they battled against almost insurmountable odds for no recognition or encouragement.
My little sister epitomized the image of the struggling dairy farmer. She worked alongside her husband on a dry country farm battling drought and constantly coupled with decreasing milk prices.
The farmhouse was sadly neglected but the milking shed shone and was always clean and well maintained.
Three little kids just a year apart fended for themselves mostly until Nanna turned up to save the day and bring some routine and loving care into their lives.
Meanwhile Mum raced around from dairy to the fencing, to the corn crop, to town for supplies, to the accountant for some hope, to the bank manager for some funding and finally to god for some compassion.
In the midst of all this she watched her husband give up, losing interest in the endless struggle, withdrawing into his shell. Depression is an insidious animal. It devours good honest hard working men and women leaving sad dessicated carcasses much like chopper cows heading for the knackery.
How can a relationship hope to survive this? Sadly, many don’t. My strong little sister, tight and reliable as the fences she strained still retained her sense of humour and optimism.
Her children grew and thrived, now bringing her joy with a nice bunch of grandkids. Both she and her man moved on to new and more prosperous farms with less stress and better futures.
How terrifying that tightrope walk faced by farmers every day, every year, every season. One slip or misplaced step and over the edge they go with often no safety net to catch them. Some are made for this, others not. Good on ya little sister you’re a hero in my estimation.