Boyne Valley bush fires devastate cattle feed on properties
LAST week's bushfires taught Boyne Valley hobby farmer Barry Collins how cruel rural life can be.
The grass fire, which at its largest was 400 hectares, started on Thursday, July 12.
It gradually spread across the drought-affected land near Gladstone Monto Rd, and was still going on Friday.
"It's given me an idea of how cruel life can be on the land," Mr Collins said.
"I've got a primary producer's ticket, but I don't go over 20 head of cattle.
"But with this drought, I'd hate to be on one of those big blocks of thousands of acres with hundreds of head of cattle."
Mr Collins owns 600 acres of land, on which he plans to retire, about 10 kilometres outside Nagoorin.
Last Sunday he received a call from his neighbour telling him a bushfire had flared up.
"The first fire started when the bearings on a trailer failed and set off a heap of spot fires along the side of the road," Mr Collins said.
"The firies were still fighting that one when the one on Wednesday started and jumped the creek.
"The fire came within 400m of our living area, but the firies did a great job."
Fortunately his cattle were fenced in another section of the property.
"Everything is so dry, I've had to sell a heap," he said.
"I've got to hand-feed the ones I've got left and drag water up for them.
"The fire's taken away all their feed so they're going to struggle."
In spite of the set back Mr Collins was full of praise for the rural fire brigade and his neighbours.
"The nature of the people in the Boyne Valley is amazing," he said.
"It's a good community, it brings a smile to your face knowing there's some great people out there looking out for you."
Calliope Rural Fire Brigade member Kim Polzin, who has helped the Boyne Valley and Many Peaks brigades for the past five days said no livestock or property was lost.
"We don't think twice about helping because most of us have properties in the area too," Ms Polzin said.
Up to 15 rural firies have been scouring the affected area, putting out spot fires.
"We've had a few fires flaring up from flying embers and falling trees," Ms Polzin said.
"The area around Marble Creek is pretty hilly so we've had to use rakes, hoes and knapsacks to keep on top of it.
"We're looking forward to having a couple of days off."