SHE had “everything [she] ever wanted” but then drought forced the difficult choice to sacrifice most of it.
The decision to “backtrade” is a strong theme when Jenn Sansom recounts the past few months, but she’s not complaining and she’s not looking back.
The horse trainer and “small fry” cattle producer saw the writing on the wall and pulled up sticks from Halls Creek in March.
Now living in Coonabarabran, she’s given up her dream property but says “it’s pointless looking back”.
“I’m a person who, once I’ve made decision, right or wrong you’ve gotta live with the decision you’ve made,” she said.
Ms Sansom bought her place at Halls Creek in 2010, when “grass was leaping out of the ground”.
She had a job in Tamworth to help pay the bills; and she established her own business with clinicians and trainers using her horse accommodation and arenas to run clinics. She also set up a shearing shed.
Those exciting years came to a screeching halt and it all became too hard: the 40km commute to and from town on an unsealed road, earning money to scrape by paying for feed, with no end in sight.
“I realised it just wasn’t going to rain and this was it.”
She sold up whatever she could – her property, all of her calves – and moved to 130 acres at Coonabarabran, where she know no one.
“I’m in a way better situation than other people, so I can’t complain,” she said.
“But if I hadn’t moved when I moved, I would have ended up with no stock, a desolate place with no rain and no quality of life.
“At end of day, I’m closer to 60 than I am to 50, and you have to make decisions about what you can and can’t do.”
Luckily, Ms Sansom found Coonabarabran to be “a great town – happy I chose it”.
She has held on to 20 breeding Angus cows, as well as eight broodmares, two registered heritage stock horse stallions and two saddle geldings.
“We haven't had any decent rain in three months … but I was blessed inasmuch as the fellow I bought [the Coonabarabran property] off hadn’t flogged it out,” she said.
“There was a lot of dry plains grass, and we managed to fill the shed up with big oaten squares.”
Ms Sansom said some were unable or reluctant to make those tough choices to downsize, destock or even move, but she was a practical person and had a lot to be positive about after her choice.
“Where I am now, I’ve got a roof over my head, a part-time job in town 10km away, a tar-sealed road and I’ve still got my animals, so I’m better off than most … [I just] hope to God one day it rains.”
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