MATES AT THE GATE


© Mick Martin

The bank had loaned him thousands 
And he signed as farmers do
To keep from going under
And the interest would accrue.

The years of drought had pushed him
To the edge of dark despair
His family loved this station
But the bankers would not care.

For bankers are like dingoes
Waiting on that final fall
For blokes like Arty Fleming
There would be no curtain call.

Six years of drought behind him
Surely rain was over due
He had to feed his family
There was nothing else to do,

The tanks were all but empty
And the dams were bowls of dust
The stock were dropping daily
And this loan was fit to bust. 

While some had rain a plenty
Even floods so cruel and cold
The dust and flies kept coming
And his dice had now been rolled.

“I’m sorry Mary darling
I have done all I can do
Forgive a dopey farmer
Its a bitter pill to chew”

The banker came in person
Even feigned his sad remorse
Left Arty with the papers
Saying things had run their course.

No words could Arty mutter
He was crushed and cold inside
To tell his wife and children
Was beyond this farmers pride.

The grapevine did its duty
And the news spread far and wide
His neighbours felt his anguish
And collectively they sighed.

But rain was due that evening
Even that would be too late
For arty and his family
Waiting for their gloomy fate.

The bank took all the titles
Leaving Arty in the cold
But neighbours helped their mate out
As the chattels would be sold.

He’d need to buy a dwelling
In the town not far away
The bankers left quite quickly
Thinking wisest not to stay.

It started with a bore pump
As the bids went up in tens
But soon they were in hundreds
As he watched his farming friends.

See every single dollar 
That the auction made from then
Was just a masked donation
From these farming wives and men.

When Bill bid twenty thousand
For the tractor near the gate
He wished he’d helped him early
Maybe now was all too late.

When Mrs Farring Fosworth 
bought his clapped out Falcon ute
The auctioneer was speechless
Even Arty stood there mute.

It only took the morning
And the lots were spoken for.
300 k said Chalky
Bill said make it fifty more.

With tears of silent thank yous
Arty held his darling wife
And took the gift from neighbours
And to start a brand new life.

But Mrs Farring Fosworth
In her subtle quiet way
Gave Arty one more gesture
“If your family care to stay

I’ll buy your family station
And I’ll need a leading hand.
Don’t move into the city
You belong here on this land.

And when at last I leave here
You can keep the title too
We like to help our neighbours
And I know that you would too.”

And not one auction item left,
His neighbours thought that fair
So that’s the way it happened
Arty stayed and he’s still there.

Through drought and fire or flooding
We will always find a way
It’s part of being Aussie.
Its our nation’s DNA .