Drought and doubt … but hope wins out
by Tim Paschke
I’ve always been a farmer. I was certainly never pushed into it. Dad always said, ‘Choose something else than farming’. But I guess when it comes down to it, it’s what I love to do.
There’s always something different to do. There’s always another season. There’s always something to look forward to, whether it’s fixing fences, feeding sheep, moving sheep, selling sheep or putting a crop in.
It’s also a great life with a family. As a dad, there’s nothing better than for your kids to be able to ride their bikes outside, play with the dogs, jump on the trampoline and play up in the scrub. It’s allowing kids to be kids.
But while there is so much that I love about it, farming does involve long hours of work. It can be up to 18 hours a day, six or seven days a week. We do make time for church on a Sunday morning and then family time for lunch but then, generally, it’s back into it when it’s really busy. But we know those seasons don’t last forever.
We haven’t had a proper rain event since December of 2017. We had no paddock feed going into March or April last year, and so we had to hand-feed sheep while they were lambing and just try to keep the mums and the lambs close.
In the end, we sold 400 sheep, which was a decision we had to make because we didn’t have any feed. We had such a small amount of rain early, that we sowed a lot of our crop dry, putting it in without any extra moisture. You don’t know if it’s going to come up, so obviously, there’s an element of risk.
But, at the end of the day, if we were to have lost the farm, we’d still have each other. That’s obviously important, that everybody goes through the traumatic times together.
We need to ride the wave and to be able to see the dawn. That’s easier said than done, but if you don’t believe there’s hope for tomorrow, today’s pretty dark. But there is hope for tomorrow.
And I have learnt that the times in which you struggle the hardest are actually the times when you grow the most. If there’s anything I do, it’s to find ‘God moments’ in the day, whether that’s a sunrise or listening to a rainbird ‘twortling’ away. To me, those are ‘God moments’. Even to see my kids laughing on the trampoline or whatever, it’s those kinds of moments that make the day special.
My faith is really important but having faith doesn’t mean everything will be easy. You can pray all you like that it’s going to rain, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to rain.
I think it’s really important what you pray for, and that might be for guidance instead of things. It’s really looking for the doors that are opened for you because if one door shuts, God will open maybe three more doors for you. You just have to be open to those opportunities and be ready when they do arise.
Having said that, I’m still praying for rain. But I’m also praying for my health and my family’s health, and the chance to be here tomorrow because there’s nothing sure. We don’t know when our time is up. I guess I pray for every moment, really, that I can experience it.
Despite the struggles, I wouldn’t be farming if it wasn’t worth it. The fact that we supply the nation with food, gives us a real reason to do what we do. When you take all the stresses and all the unknowns out of farming, being on the land really is a wonderful, wonderful place to live and to bring up a family. As a farmer, we see the fruits of what God can really provide on a daily level.
Tim Paschke and his family are members at St Paul’s Lutheran Church, Lowbank, in South Australia’s Waikerie Parish.
Tim first shared his story through Lutheran Media’s Messages of Hope, which are broadcast on radio stations around Australia and New Zealand. For more stories about finding hope in the darkest times, go to messagesofhope.org.au
You can also order the free booklet ‘Comebacks’ at the same website or by calling 1800 353 350.