$150k couldn’t keep them alive
ANDREW Curro is a Mudgee local who every year for the past 18 years has been visiting his farmer mates, giving them a hand when he can.
But last week was different.
He spent four days helping a mate fish hundreds of dead sheep and kangaroos out of drying dams, using an excavator to remove the stuck, rotting carcasses.
He rescued baby lambs whose mothers lay dead on barren land, and he and wife Licia are now hand-rearing them.
Unable to stand by and watch the utter devastation all around them, the father of three wrote a heartfelt post on social media pleading with politicians, the public and the city privileged, to open their eyes to the horror farmers were living, and lend a hand.
His Facebook post has been shared an incredible 42,000 times, with 17,000 likes and almost 7000 comments of support.
"I'm not someone who is into politics or ranting on Facebook, but I have just spent four days out in Cobar helping a good mate," the 37-year-old plumber wrote.
"I spent four days fishing - not with a fishing line, but with a excavator to remove hundreds of dead sheep and roos that are stuck in drying dams.
"Driving to pick up kids - but not from school, I was picking up baby lambs who were sitting next to their dead mothers for days on end.
"It's the worst I've seen it in 18 years of going out there.
"Australia should be ashamed. We worry about 2 per cent of sheep dying on boats going overseas because you've seen a video of it, but what about the 90 per cent dying in the paddock?"
Mr Curro said his friend had spent $150,000 on hay and couldn't afford to buy more to keep his stock alive.
In a few weeks he will head back to Cobar, in central western NSW, to help put down hundreds of sheep that can't be sold.
"The support and shares has been so overwhelming," Mr Curro told news.com.au today, just 24-hours after the NSW government doubled its drought relief support, taking its commitment to more than $1 billion.
"I'm not much for social media and I can't believe that it has gone as far as it has.
"Cobar hasn't seen any real rain since before Christmas and it's a horrible thing to witness - to see a mate go through such heartbreak is very distressing.
"You read about the suicide rate in male farmers and it's worrying - it could happen to anyone."
With 99 per cent of the state now in drought, the new drought relief package also includes funding for counselling and mental health, drought-related road upgrades and a transport subsidy of up to $20,000 per farm business.
The situation has led to heartbreaking scenes across the country, with many farmers forced to slaughter their animals or watch them die as they struggle to feed and water livestock.
"I just went away up the Flinders and it was so dry," wrote one supporter, responding to Mr Curro's post.
"There were so many dead skippy's in the creeks, even the rock wallabies were dead in the creek while a couple of them were digging down trying to find water.
"It was so sad - I pray for rain."
"This is just dreadful - my heart goes out to the farmers," wrote another.
Lisa Mayoh is a freelance journalist. Follow her on Twitter @LisaMayoh
• If you want to help out some of our drought-stricken farmers, see Buy a Bale.