When it comes to animal endurance the annals of history have few records like the one Debbie broke during a recent cyclone-induced maelstrom at Lismore.
In what will go down as a credit to her cross bred nature dear Debbie, an Angus/ brindle Brahman cow, made the mistake of galloping for so-called higher ground after the Wilsons broke its bank at South Gundurimba.
She, and 29 others from her herd paid for their mistake and swam for their lives. Many didn’t make it, others have been strewn down both sides of the river.
“I have spent every weekend since mustering cattle in other people’s places,” said Tony Ivey, who first thought he lost $60,000 worth of cattle – breeders and best fat weaners. In the month since the flood he recovered half that, thanks to honest neighbours.
The enduring cow Debbie stayed afloat for 36 hours and travelled from her home paddock to Pimlico, just upstream from the mouth of the Richmond – a distance of 70km as the river travels.
Nothing stopped her along the way, unlike her identical sister who came up at Ruthven, ‘only’ 25km downstream.
The cow that is ‘Debbie’ eventually rose from bricky’s mud floodwaters on her own four legs and caught the attention of surprised landholders – the Steads at Pimlico – whose gently sloping boat ramp gave the presumably exhausted bovine a path out of the broadly flooding Richmond.
Livestock carrier Wayne Bruggy was called after the Steads placed a query to DPI and he rounded her up and pushed her towards Billy Lock’s yards nearby but just when Mr Bruggy thought all was right the cow took a sharp left and wiggled into the sugarcane, re-appearing a while later with some new mates. The rest was manageable and Debbie returned home to a very surprised Mr Ivey.
Last week Multimin paid Mr Ivey a visit and sponsored his recovery by needling his whole herd with vitamin supplements, not that the likes of Debbie really needed any boost; her brindle black coat shining in the pale autumn sun.
“These cattle were mud fat before their swim and that’s one reason why they survived,” said Mr Ivey, who reported a good summer with enough rain showers to grow grass while paddocks in the next valley south were very poor indeed.
“Dad said this year’s weaners were the best I’d ever bred. I suppose it will take two years to get back to where we left off. Still,” Mr Ivey philosophised. “Things could be worse. I could have lost the lot!”