Hoping for rain after months of dry

The Craw family has been trucking in barley and other supplements to feed out to their remaining...
The Craw family has been trucking in barley and other supplements to feed out to their remaining ewes.
Hamish Craw has lived all his life on Banks Peninsula and cannot remember it being as dry.

Hamish Craw is praying for rain for his Banks Peninsula farm. PHOTOS: SUPPLIED BY HAMISH CRAW
Hamish Craw is praying for rain for his Banks Peninsula farm. PHOTOS: SUPPLIED BY HAMISH CRAW
The Craw family has been farming on the peninsula for six generations and has weathered many challenges, but Mr Craw said the last three months had been devastating on top of a year of low rainfall.

"It’s the third-lowest three-month period on record and it follows the last 12 months of lack of rain before that."

Normally, Mr Craw and his wife Annabel farmed nine stock units of sheep and beef per hectare on their rolling hill country farm.

But last year’s dry autumn and winter led to them unloading stock in October, selling stock, sending some away grazing and feeding out to the remaining ewes, he said.

"We’ve been trucking in barley and other feed. We would be down to under 70% of our normal stocking rate and having to feed out to our remaining stock.

"The pasture needs a decent break to get going again. We did get some rain in December and January which gave us a break, but we missed the rain in the spring and the summer rain really only touched the surface."

It was a short reprieve as conditions have quickly dried out again during the past three months with a lack of follow\-up rain.

But Mr Craw said all was not lost, as June growth was not uncommon on the warmer coastal parts of the farm, provided rain came soon.

"We have been fortunate up until now because the stock has done well because it’s been warm, but we are coming into the colder period.

"If we get some rain now we could be OK, but once we get into May it’s getting too late."

The Craws farm 426ha at Little Akaloa, mostly hill country with some flatter land on the coast.

Angus cattle and composite ewes, with a Romney base and mixed with Texel, were run on the Craw’s Longridge property.

They have three children, Harriet (10), Charlotte (9) and George (6).

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