Fear of the times

Drought is one word that sends normally sane people into periods of depression, walking on eggshells around each other and periods of high stress. This has been proven, there are many organisations that provide workshops, individual and private counselling for mental health and financial advice. Groups form to “catch up” so it gives people time to get off the farms and away from the situation even for an hour or so.

A lot of the women in farming families feel the stress of this greatly as they cope with what it all brings. It’s not like depression though, that is a different element, if you suffer from depression I am positive it would be harder to manage this, the farmer and the change in lifestyle if you do. Luckily I can only imagine how much harder it is for people with depression to cope during difficult times when families depend on that person more. We must watch out for each other during these difficult times as it is only people who keep people going.

Some days are harder than others and with all of the white noise around concessional drought loans (there have been minimal allocated in South Australia) from what sounds like political argy bargy many are going hat in hand to the Banks. It has been decided SA or parts of SA like the South East & Mid North are in drought after record-breaking lack of rain falls yet the State Government is playing politics with federal allocation of money that can assist some farmers during this time.

I wonder sometimes about the choices we make with voting our politicians in, there is no doubt they all go into politics to ‘help people out’ yet most of the time it looks like grand standing, self-absorption and self-importance, doesn’t it? These people are making decisions they rarely know anything about and do it thinking about the deficit they have created in the economy. Many people need financial assistance especially here in the South East but feel it will only be given out whilst taking from the back pocket with drainage levy hike, NRM levy hike and what ever else is next . This leaves many wondering if politicians really do know what it’s like to live rurally? they have good salaries, fantastic accessible pension funds from the day they leave office, they use the tax payers money for dinners, bottles of wine, business class and first class trips around the country and the world then come back and tell us all to tighten our belts. I often wonder if this mentality will ever change, if you can get away with the finer things in your job then one suspects everyone would do it.

When I was a sales rep, I traveled for my job and often at conferences met up with other staff members. I vividly recall being told that on one representative I went with ate and drank the mini bar dry 3 times whilst they were there for 5 days. In a 10 day trip and my expenses of eating in cafes and pubs for the 10 days I was away were not as much as had to be paid for the other reps gluttony in 4.

I have been told dealing with the banks is almost as difficult, though most farmers plan for drought, they also plan to get income, either through stock sales or grain sales and hay sales to name a few. When in drought the crops don’t grow, so it can not be sold as there is nothing to sell. I had a lady email me to tell me the most humiliating thing that has happened to her during this hard period is having to go into the bank and sit across from her friend and be scrutinised over their spending habits even to be told her monthly coffee catch up with her friends (including the bank manager) was out of their budget. At that moment she writes, her stomach started churning, her palms started to sweat and she knew she was going to vomit.

There was only one way to get the overdraft and that was for her to get a job in her chosen profession, she is a lawyer and with no option open to her to work in this field and with a 3 month old at the time, she has taken a job in the meat works in the local town 4 days per week.Her husband has also taken off farm work, as a truck driver and she said over the last 6 months they have worked 60 to 80 hours per week and their daughter has seen more of the child care assistants than of her or her husband. They are coping and are managing financially. She writes that this saved the property from foreclosure and they are able to pay their bills on time. She has never returned to the coffee group as she can not face her friend again.

If you can assist with my drought ladies day in March 2016please let me know, sponsorship, gift bags and prizes. Dates and sponsors will be announced over the coming week. InOurPaddocks is going through the system to be a Not For Profit Charity so I will be able to issue tax-deductible receipts. Anyone can contact me through the Facebook page or here.

If you do need help call Life Line 13 11 14

#newneighbours #travellinghome #emus

#newneighbours #travellinghome

I took this photo yesterday on my way home.

Bank Accounts and Farming

We have had to change banks this month, the account belonging to the farm was opened in excess of 15 years or more ago. It was opened as an operating account for the trust (of which I am not a part of). The Directors of the trust as those that own the farm, DH, & the In laws. This has worked well for many years and will see it to cessation as time goes by. The Adelaide bank has sold off this section of the branch and the new company have decided to close that banking arm – FANTASTIC in the year of the Farmer NOT. We were sent a letter which gave us a one month period to find a new account, it has to have the basic criteria of having a cheque book, though these little paper slips are almost extinct some businesses can not be B paid, Anypay, pay at the post office or by cash they need to be done with cheque i.e. ASIC.

I have researched options and boy Banks cash in on small businesses, there are some that offer a 5 transaction limit then charge $1.60 per transaction after that and on average the farm would do 15 transactions per month on a slow month. This is on top of the account keeping fee and cheque book fee, etc. These are the days of the shareholder banks that make many millions in profit despite crying poor. Also we in the country are limited by closures and lack of branches, so we looked at what is available for convenience and closeness. with a limited time to do this we asked advice from our accountant and then proceeded to meet with the local manager.

Rural families are different from any others, the Directors are also parents, I have no legal claim to anything which is ok with me, it makes things difficult though. I am not a signatory on any of the accounts, though I do all of the book work for the business. This is not an issue for me as such in that it is only inconvenient at times when I need to have cheques signed. The request of the parents in opening the account is that they remain signatories and it has been requested that I am as well. The farm pays for many of the parents living expenses and will do until they are no longer with us, they have bequeathed their shares to each other and only after death does it become DH’s. There is no issue here, this is just the matter of fact, this is how they work and this is what farming families do. In the new ear of credit & debit cards, no pass books the issue now is according to the bank manager – how many cards do we issue and how many customer numbers are required, as they will remain signatories. Our Lovely bank manager found it a bit perplexing that the three directors would be signing and I would just be a signature and we only needed 1 card, 1 customer number.

There we all sat with the bank manager and he was working hard to accommodate us, it took him about 2 hours work to put it together and then we invited the parents in law to come and sign the paper work. 5 of us in his office and asking how many linking up of the accounts to other accounts did there need to be? Only 1 the current working Director. 4 cards? no we settle on 2, 1 for the current working Director and 1 for the book-keeper, bill payer then we even have to choose a colour of the card. This being done the parents in law sign and check that it is not stated that I am a Director but a signature only. Bank Manager then wants to show us how to use the accounts, register it and link it all up, I am in the far corner and can not see the screen (not helpful for the book-keeper really) so DH informs parents they can go, which they do albeit reluctantly. It is not that we hide anything from them, they get copies of the books annually or upon requests ┬áit’s just that it has become in their words far too complicated for them to do all of this now (sign of old age).

This is how it rolls in rural families, sons and daughters may not own their own places till the parents pass on. It is restrictive and it is still controlling the lives of middle-aged children, in some it breeds resentment, others complacency and contentment in others. My DH is content with his lot which is lucky, he has been left to his own devices to run the property and the stock as he sees fit. He has always wanted what was fair rather than a pot of gold he had not worked for.