"Hear that kids, that's the sound of money."
That was my mother, commenting as rain bucketed down in days gone back on our Victorian farm.
Rain has always been an important part of my life.
Generally speaking there is either too much of it, or not enough.
It was drummed into me at an early age.
The Victorian Mallee is very hit and miss when it comes to the seasons.
That's why you always had backstops like fat lambs and wool, or pigs, or anything else you could profit from if the crops went south.
A partner who had a regular wage off farm, such as a school teacher or council worker, was highly prized.
Or an added skill like shearing or truck driving, all very handy when the rain failed to arrive.
If you wanted to know if a district had rain or not in the recent past, check the local football ladder.
Most towns have a system at the silo/bunker weighbridge where farmers donate a load or three of grain in the good years to the footy club.
That club would then make sure there was enough players to maintain the Saturday ritual.
In good seasons, you might afford a few decent coaches and players from outside the district and challenge for the flag.
A successful club is good for the town.
We all understand what happens if it doesn't rain.
The media did a good job of bringing stories of country folk struggling in the recent droughts to make that real to all.
When it rains too much, as it has up and down the east coast this past week, it is good news but mostly bad.
Yes, it fills the storages and the sub-soil but anyone who had been through a flood, knows it can be just as devastating as a bushfire. Worse.
Water has a relentlessness, a power about it which is frightening.
Years back, I was staying overnight at a friend's farm house and woke in the morning to raise the alarm.
All I could see in the morning gloom outside the bedroom window was water creeping up to the house.
I was only there because it was ringed by flooded creeks and waters and huge earthen levee banks were keeping the water at bay. The life of a news reporter.
I thought those banks had broken during the night, they often do.
I managed to scare the wits out of that family.
It turned out to be mist spilling from the top of the encircling flood water which I had seen.
A lot of good livestock perished in that flood, fences became a tangled mess, many homes were inundated, lives were ruined.
For my friends, the banks held. Others didn't.
I spent some years recently in Katherine in the Northern Territory.
That town was basically wiped out in 1998 when the river broke its banks.
I wasn't there, but I spoke to many people who were. They were still suffering mental demons from it, decades later.
The weather is a tough foe.
But it can also be a welcome visitor.
My mother drew her family's attention to the sound of rain - my father didn't need to, he yelled at the weather presenter on the TV news most evenings, we well knew how important rain was to him.
It nagged him in later years, after a run of good seasons allowed him to replace the old mouse-chewed farm house with a brick one.
They went for a tiled roof, the rain never sounded the same after that.
- ACM national agricultural writer Chris McLennan.
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