The couple and their four daughters — Daisy, eight, Holly, six, Harper, four and Ally, two — have toughed it out through three consecutive years of drought and three years of failed crops, but they’re still hopeful for the future.
“The kids are starting to feel the pressure now, the two oldest go to a small country school and even they talk about us desperately needing rain,” Ms Wykes said.
“As much as you try to shelter them from it they feel the pressure that we feel.”
The third generation farmers run a 1,800-acre property in central west NSW and say they’re down to just 50 cattle, from 150.
“We have 50 cows and calves left, we have to sell them when we don’t have any food to give them,” Ms Wykes said.
“We’re working off-farm as much as we can to cover expenses, my husband does labouring and I do some office work.
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“This is going to be a very sad Christmas, just dust and flies. But we are tough and we are resilient, it has to turn around soon.”
Commonwealth Bank CEO Matt Comyn yesterday visited the Wykes on their farm following the bank’s launch of its 2019 Christmas Drought Appeal.
Mr Comyn was on the ground to hear first-hand stories of the drought’s severe impact on farming families.
“The current, unrelenting drought is having a devastating effect on communities across Australia. Farmers, the local businesses that support them, the towns built around them, are all hurting,” he said.
“As a bank with many thousands of customers and staff in these communities, we are acutely aware of the stress and pressure that three years of drought have caused.
“That’s why this week we have launched our 2019 Christmas Drought Appeal with a $1 million donation, to support the vital work that our partners, the Australian Red Cross and Rural Aid, are doing on the ground in these communities.”
CBA also pledged an additional $500,000 to recruit retired banking staff to support the NSW Rural Financial Counselling Service, which provides farmers with additional advice and support.
“Having spoken to many of our drought affected customers such as Jamee and Ben in areas such as Dubbo, and elsewhere across New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria, I know how much every little bit helps,” Mr Comyn said.
“Last year we raised close to $8 million thanks to the generous donations of our customers and the broader community. This Christmas we are hoping to raise even more.”
Existing CBA customers can donate quickly and easily by logging into the CommBank App. Donations are also accepted at every CBA branch in the country. The appeal runs through to Christmas Day.