At this point, you have made the necessary immediate decisions about your livestock and are about to begin making longer-term decisions about the future of your farm.
PAUSE before you take more action.
It is tempting to press on with recovery straight away and re-establish the farm exactly as it was. However, while a major fire can be very disruptive, it can also be an opportunity to take a new direction. Pause first and take some time to identify possible positive changes to your long-term plan.
Consider getting help to review the options. Discussing your ideas with others helps clarify the best choice for you. Help can come from a farm advisor or consultant, or from friends or others in your community.
Once you have paused to consider your options, write down a plan for your long- term recovery. Many things will appear urgent; a plan can help you focus clearly on strategic priorities.
Consider your long-term objectives for your enterprise, as well as your goals for the next 3–5 years. Has the bushfire presented new opportunities or limitations?
Identify positive opportunities during rebuilding and where you can make capital improvements:
- rebuilding fences in better locations, better gates, steel fencing in strategic places
- location, type and design of infrastructure such as sheds, water systems and feeding infrastructure – for example, replacing wooden yards with steel, which is more durable and fireproof
- pasture type and pasture composition
- changes to farm business such as the type of stock carried or target markets.
In most cases, both labour and cash are insufficient to complete all recovery work, so review what needs to be rebuilt or repaired and prioritise: what do you need to do first to create positive cash flow to support more work? Aim for a functional farm rather than an ideal farm. For example, re-fencing everything is time consuming and expensive, whereas re-fencing part of the farm or larger paddocks that can be subdivided later might be good enough for now.
Remember to spend time on the farm business as well as working on the farm. Fencing might seem urgent but dealing with business matters such as insurance, grants and budgets is just as important.