Rain a very welcome birthday present

Rain a very welcome birthday present

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A dam last month, after 23mm of rain fell on Mr Swann's property. The most substantial fall in five years.

A dam last month, after 23mm of rain fell on Mr Swann's property. The most substantial fall in five years.

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Although it was long-awaited, the rain could not have come at a better time for Virginia station.

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HEAVENS opened and gifted Virginia station owner Russell Swann with the "best birthday ever" this year.

The Nullarbor pastoralist enjoyed the double celebration on his homestead verandah, where he admired a deluge of rain fall across the vast, semi-arid land.

It may sound simple to some, but when you are a cattle farmer, who hasn't seen a decent soaking in about five years, it is a feeling hard to beat.

"I had a cry about it - our turn at last," Mr Swann said.

"It started in the morning (of June 13) and went for most of the day with another couple of millimetres at night.

"It was a great relief, I wasn't too sure how to take it for a while.

"It almost leaves you a bit stunned when the break finally comes."

When Farm Weekly visited Mr Swann in April the last main rain event he had was 19 millimetre in October 2019.

The best to follow that was 12mm at the start of February, which gave him a break from carting water over five water points every two to three days.

So you can only imagine how welcome a year's supply of water - in a 23mm downpour - right over a major dam was.

"The other dams have sort of got around a metre to two metres of water, which is good and means I can use those water points for the time being.

"Now I've got the security with the other couple of major ones to keep me going.

"I was down to between about six to 18 inches in those dams, so I was at the point of getting stock off onto trucks before water was completely gone."

Although it was long-awaited, the rain could not have come at a better time for Virginia station.

Mr Swann was holding onto his last mob of cattle, after he started destocking in May due to the persistent dry conditions.

"I had hung off putting cows and calves onto the truck until the last gasp," he said.

"I just hoped I would get a rain and I wouldn't have to put them on the truck, which is eventually what happened.

"It definitely ran us out to the wire, but it was definitely worth it."

Russell Swann with a main dam at Virginia station in March.

Russell Swann with a main dam at Virginia station in March.

Mr Swann sent 90 cows, heifers and herd bulls to his son's property this year and is down to running 100 head.

The beauty of the arrangement is the cattle can return to Virginia when Mr Swann can afford (feed and water wise) to have them back.

And although he is quite heavily understocked the cattle he does have on the ground are "doing quite well".

As too is the bush, which freshened up almost immediately when it received a decent drink.

"I am already seeing grass germination," Mr Swann said.

"It's actually taken a few days convincing all the cows to leave here (the homestead).

"I've had them enclosed for a couple of weeks to get on the truck and being hay fed they decided that was the life.

"I kicked them out three times and they keep showing up back here thinking I might hay feed them."

Mr Swann added it had been just as difficult trying to walk the cows out to watering holes last week.

He said they had a few kilometres to go, but he "just about needed a crowbar to move them along" once they hit the green pick.

"My little dog was working her butt off to keep them walking because (the cows) almost decided it was 'Christmas time' and that they would pull up and have a feed.

"I think they will do quite well here though, especially the cows with calves as their milk will improve.

"It's just nice at this stage having that extra bit of feed to carry them along."

Cattle at Virginia have been calving over the past month, with up to 60 calves on the ground.

And Mr Swann hoped the rain was a positive sign of what was to come:

"It is still pretty cold, but we have a little bit of a germination starting," he said.

"I am hoping it all keeps going from here."

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