Leigh McCahon, retired dryland farmer, talks to Helen Stevens about the impact of the current drought and how farmers have adapted to dry conditions in the Pyramid Hill district.
Further InformationTRANSCRIPT OF DROUGHT STORIES INTERVIEW EXCERPT 7
Helen Stevens (Interviewer):Oh what can you tell me about the weather patterns, of this place?
Leigh McCahon: Weather patterns at Pyramid Hill are fairly typical of northern Victoria, oh 14 to 15 inch annual rainfall, although you could have fooled us a bit over the last 10 or 12 years, growing season rainfall is the most important, and we’ve been missing out a bit over the last few years.
Helen Stevens: What, when did the current drought first impact, on your life?
Leigh McCahon: I guess it’s hard to say, just when it first impacted, on our life, and I’m probably not supposed to question your questions, but I don’t look upon this as a current drought, I look upon it as a current, long, dry period, with probably one good year, and a couple of droughts,
But I guess it probably really started to impact, in the mid 2000s, we had a very severe drought in 2002, where we didn’t even take the header out, had probably one of the best years on record the next year, and since then, it’s been interspersed, a couple of years that I would call drought, with some very dry and tough ones, and the impact really would have started in say in the mid 2000, 2005.
Helen Stevens: Mm. Yes, I was only a kid in the 1940s when the dust storms were on, but it doesn’t seem to be quite anywhere near that state of drought, does it?
Leigh McCahon: I think the rainfall has probably been as bad, but we haven’t had the dust storms to the extent, mainly because of different, and improved farming practices and machinery in the Mallee, most of the dust in those ‘40s came from the Mallee areas, and with bigger machines for cultivation, and stubble retention, there hasn’t been the dust, rise from those areas, in the drought years.
Helen Stevens: That’s right, yes. Explain the changes that you and your family have made, because of the drought.
Leigh McCahon: Well I think cultivation practices have been one of the main ones, but they were coming, anyway, but probably been accelerated due to drought, reduced cultivation, right down to minimum tillage, retaining of stubbles, to hold moisture, and to prevent wind and water erosion; on the stock side, removing sheep from paddocks as the cover decreased, and putting them in containment areas, probably reticulated water supplies instead of open channels, to save water, they’d probably be the main ones.
Copyright held by the Pyramid Hill and District Historical Society and the State Library of Victoria. This interview excerpt can only be used for research purposes and must not be reproduced, copied or published in any form without the permission of the Pyramid Hill and District Historical Society and the State Library of Victoria.
Drought Stories interview excerpt 7: Leigh McCahon talks about the impact of drought on farming in northern Victoria,
Helen Stevens, interviewer,
MP3 file, 3 mins: 14 secs, 2009,
Collection of the Pyramid Hill and District Historical Society and the State Library of Victoria
Pyramid Hill & District Historical Society Inc
This interview excerpt can only be used for research purposes and must not be reproduced, copied or published in any form without the permission of the State Library of Victoria and the Pyramid Hill and District Historical Society
Copyright held by the State Library of Victoria and the Pyramid Hill and District Historical Society