Community support has boosted the spirits of a struggling family, after the valued income generated by selling eggs and kindling through an 'honesty system' was stolen by callous thieves.
Georgia Kirby started placing cartons of eggs in a little hut on the roadside at the front of her Springdallah farm on Scarsdale-Pittfield Road during the first lockdown in 2020, in an effort to support her family during a terribly traumatic time.
Georgia and her husband, Ron, had struggled to maintain their business while his daughter Becky was in palliative care, before the 39-year-old tragically died from bowel cancer in September 2019.
As a result of the stress, Ron became extremely ill and no longer in a position to run the couple's Foal Guard business - foaling alarms to alert owners when a horse is giving birth.
Early last year, he was diagnosed with a bleed in his brain. Unable to physically run the business and struggling to have parts shipped in due to the pandemic, the couple were forced to scale their formerly successful business right back.
So despite a long-term back injury she has managed since age 16 - that means she cannot sit for long periods or her back will seize up - Ms Kirby started applying for jobs. But it didn't come without a sacrifice, and meant putting her horticulture studies on hold.
"I had to drop my uni course because we just couldn't cope," she explained.
"To try and make ends meet" she created her own lawn mowing business, candidly titled Bad Back Mowing.
Though she has continued to rely on the few funds generated from her little business at the front of her house "to make a few more dollars to survive".
Since establishing the venture, the roadside stall has been boosted with other goods -including kindling which she chops, splits and bundles herself.
So when she discovered about $40 had been stolen over the weekend, she was absolutely devastated.
"We've just taken hit after hit. It has been pretty tough for the last couple of years and the lockdowns don't help."
While it might not seem like much to some, the funds help to "make things a bit easier" for the Kirbys.
"It's not much to most people but it was heartbreaking for me and I was so defeated and disillusioned," she explained, adding the cash helped to pay for the care of their animals and for petrol for their cars.
IN OTHER NEWS
Her son posted to social media after the incident, in the hopes of raising awareness about the impact a seemingly minor theft could have.
"You might drive past my parent's little farm on the way out to Cape Clear and see two little huts selling potatoes, eggs and kindling with an honesty box. What you don't see is a struggling family that pretty much lost everything due to the first covid lockdown amongst other setbacks.
"What you don't see is a mother and father that no matter how hard they are struggling, they drop everything in a second to help others. What you don't see is the piles of bills, the limited supplies to get by every week and them coming up with ways to even make a few dollars to keep the heating on and the lights shining.
"What you don't see is my mother applying for jobs left, right and centre and my father doing what he can to make sure his kids are looked after in whatever way he can.
"So to you it might [have] been a couple [of] bags of potatoes and a few bundles of wood but to my family it's the difference between a full meal or rations or maybe a tank of fuel so they can get to town for a job interview."
Ms Kirby said her son was "so loyal" and protective of his family, and she cried when she saw the post.
Since then, she and her husband have received a stream of cards with kind messages enclosed and several generous cash donations.
After finding the first card, Ms Kirby said she "cried all the way up the driveway" as she read it.
"I was just so stunned. Absolutely stunned," Ms Kirby said. "I went through a myriad of emotions that people gave us that sort of support."
I went through a myriad of emotions that people gave us that sort of supportGeorgia Kirby
While an unexpected outcome and humbled by the generosity, Ms Kirby expressed sincere gratitude.
"I'm just so thankful because it made a massive difference to us. We were in a situation that week where we were struggling just to pay the phone bill and the power bill.
"The money allowed me to do that and pay some money off a vet bill. It just took the pressure off a bit and it was just phenomenal."
She also used some of the funds to purchase a small security camera to monitor the honesty box.
She likes to think it could be some good coming back to her, as she donated hundreds of dollars to people in need when the business was booming a decade ago.
While things are looking up slightly and Ms Kirby has recently gained short-term employment through the Australian Bureau of Statistics, difficult decisions are still being made to stay afloat.
The Kirbys have a dozen horses, though with their financial difficulties they are resorting to making the heartbreaking decision to sell some of them.
Some of the horses have lived at the property all of their lives, with many bred from a pony Ms Kirby had as a small child.
"They're part of my whole life but I just can't keep doing it," she said.
While still paying off the vet bills after the recent death of her beloved senior cat, who was 21, she fears the bills could add up if something were to happen to one of the horses.
"If I can find some of them good homes with kids that can ride them then that will pay for feed to keep the older ones.
"It's really difficult. I know I'm going to bawl my eyes out when they go, but it is what it is and you have to make these choices."
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