Caitlin McCamley and her husband Ben, with their children George and Ella, on their Dululu property last year in greener times.
Caitlin McCamley and her husband Ben, with their children George and Ella, on their Dululu property last year in greener times. Contributed

CQ farmer resorts to online business to fund living costs

FOR Central Queensland farmer Caitlin McCamley, drought is an every day part of her life.

While national media attention has been highlighting the crippling drought in New South Wales, it's easy to forget that Queensland is also doing it tough,

When you compare the two states in size, New South Wales is 809,44sqm and Queensland is 1853 million sqm.

The southern state was officially 100 per cent drought-declared last week while Queensland is 57.4 per cent drought-declared.

 

Lack of rain has left the grass and ground cover very dry at the Dululu property.
Lack of rain has left the grass and ground cover very dry at the Dululu property. Contributed

Ms McCamley and her husband Ben own a property near Dululu, Lancefield, which is 3235 hectares, on the McCamley's family property, Playfields, 70km north-east from Biloela.

The region has not seen good rain since the start of the year, Ms McCamley said.

The lack of rain has meant dry grass and lack of fodder for cattle.

 

The McCamley family have had to destock their herd by 6,000 head to 4,000.
The McCamley family have had to destock their herd by 6,000 head to 4,000. Contributed

With not enough food, the family has had to cut down their Brahman herd - which are generally tough and drought-tolerant - from 6000 head to 4000 head.

"We're running out of feed. To keep the cows we have to feed them hay and now we have cotton seed to feed them," Ms McCamley said.

"We basically had to get rid of all the dry cattle off the property."

Farmers in western Queensland have been worse off from as far west as Birdsville, Winton, Julia Creek and Lognreach.

READ HERE: Cotton, citrus production slashed as drought hits CQ

READ HERE: CQ cotton growers face dismal water allocations

READ HERE: Sheep disappear as QLD drought takes toll

"We are so lucky we haven't been in drought for five years, it would just be so awful," Ms McCamley said.

Ms McCamley said there were many faces to drought to the bone-dry images from NSW.

"It is not that bad everywhere but we are still drought-affected," she said.

The McCamley's sell their cattle to Teys Meatworks in Rockhampton, however, the price for cattle is dictated by the market.

 

The McCamleys send their cattle to TEYS Meatworks in Rockhampton. Cattle prices are
The McCamleys send their cattle to TEYS Meatworks in Rockhampton. Cattle prices are "okay” at the moment. Contributed

Prices are "okay" at the moment but Ms McCamley says she can only see them getting worse.

"They are going to get lower and lower as more people need to sell cattle," she said.

"Once the drought's finished you have to replace your stock, it will be crazy."

Rain is the only solution.

Ms McCamley said the last time it rained a decent amount was in February.

There was an inch of rain at the start of July, but given how dry it was and with no follow up rain, it didn't help much.

For now, Ms McCamley is just praying the wet will arrive soon.

"I'm just hoping it is going to rain, it's so depressing to go and feed those cows," she said.

"Droughts suck and there is not much you can do about it expect pray everyday that it rains.

"When we were putting hay out the other day, I was undoing the round bale and they cattle were chasing me because they were that hungry."

 

Cattle are racing over to come and eat the hay before it even comes out of the back of the truck.
Cattle are racing over to come and eat the hay before it even comes out of the back of the truck. Contributed

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But one round of rain won't just magically make your worries go away, Ms McCamley said.

"Once it rains you have to wait for the grass to grow and the cattle not to be hungry any more," she said.

As a way of supporting her family, Ms McCamley launched her own business, G&E Boutique, last year from home to help support their two young children, George, 3 and Ella, 2.

The business specialises in "city meets country" style scarves, earrings, western and cow hide jewellery and luggage.

With a huge online presence, Ms McCamley posts her products all over the country.

Amid the dry times and tight money with low cattle prices, the business allows her to support her family.

 

Caitlin McCamley feeding the cattle lick.
Caitlin McCamley feeding the cattle lick. Contributed

"My business helps me and my family to afford food and other living expenses so that we have enough money to afford to keep feeding our cattle," she said.

Ms McCamley said it was great to see so much drought awareness in the media.

She personally thanked her customers because by supporting her, they are indirectly supporting drought-stricken families like herself.

"By purchasing products or even just sharing my business to your friends who you think may be interested, you're helping support my family and our property in a time of drought," she said.



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