"You know a drought's going to end when you see the ants building up."
For the past 18 months, Braidwood farmers Mark and Sonia Horan have been waiting for the day the ants appear ... they're still waiting.
"We've had dry dams here for over 12 months, we have a creek running through the place which has kept us together, but out of 23 dams, we've got three dams with water left," Mr Horan said.
Across the country, farmers are struggling to feed their animals because of the extreme dry conditions and are not producing enough food to feed their animals, in NSW alone, about 99 per cent of farmers are dealing with drought conditions.
READ MORE: No rain equals no grain
Every Friday morning at 3am Mr Horan wakes up, slides on his boots and puts on his Akubra. By 3.30, he's in the truck and starting a 48-hour round trip to Victoria to pick up hay.
It's about 900 kilometres from Braidwood to Murra Warra, near Horsham in north-western Victoria.
The drive is a "holiday" for Mr Horan, who arrives by 3.30pm to load the truck before dark. His journey back to the farm starts at 4am Saturday and ends 12-hours later.
"It's the only time I get away from the farm, driving to and from Victoria to get a load of hay, and that's pretty good," Mr Horan said.
It's a trip he's made 18 times.
Hay ... it's a bit eating like eating spaghetti bolognese ... without the bolognese sauce.Mark Horan
"The reason we're dragging hay out of Victoria is because they have a heap of hay down there that was sitting in the paddock for 18 months to two years, they didn't know what they were going to do with it, next thing there's a drought here and everybody's going down to get it," he said.
"When I get home, my son feeds the cows on the weekends, my wife feeds the cows when I'm not here and another guy we've got on the place at the moment is helping out."
But, the cattle have been eating hay since last winter, and they're getting sick of it.
"The hay's good and it will keep them going, but it's a bit like eating spaghetti bolognese ... but without the bolognese sauce ... it will keep them alive and in fairly good order, but they just don't have the protein," Mr Horan said.
"No protein and then they just don't have the energy."
The couple has been preparing for the drought by forward planning for the past two years.
"We recognised that we were going to be in drought around February last year and started making sure that we could access fodder for our cattle and start planning forward and that's why we're still up and going," he said.
They purchased a smaller property in Yass as part of their forward planning.
"Yass has a different climatic condition to what we have here in Braidwood so its season comes on about five or six weeks earlier than ours so that was in an attempt to mitigate the weather that we have," he said.
"If you have cattle that needs feeding early, you'd move them over to Yass where the grass is already growing and that puts you a fair way ahead."
"That property has been good for us because there's been grass growing there right along - they've had water."
NSW received just half its typical rain in the first half of 2018, making it the driest start to any year since 1986. It was also the state's hottest on record for the period for daytime temperatures.
"A drought, it's sometimes hard for people to understand but if you bring it back to your backyard, then you understand what it's like," Mrs Horan said.
"You know, you get pleasure from growing your own food, like the people in the city, they'd put in the little veggie patch and they grow their own carrots.
"Then imagine if somebody just poured acid all over your veggie garden ... that's what it's like to be in a drought."
Mr Horan said live cattle have had to be put down because they didn't have the energy to get back up.
"Every decision is hard," he said.
"You know, when you see a cow go down and you could feed them for a couple of days and you stick water in front of them and sometimes they get up and walk away, but sometimes you've got to shoot them and it's a hard thing."
"In agriculture there's a saying, 'don't fall in love with your livestock' and there's good reason for it."
But the biggest loss the couple has faced is cattle drowning in shallow dams.
"The odd thing about it is, we're in drought and everybody pictures that it's dry but what you have is when cattle go down to the dams that are half empty to drink they slide in," he said.
The dams that still have water in them are full of mud. The cattle, still hoping to find a drink, walk into them but don't have the strength to be able to pull themselves out.
Last week, Mr Horan came home to find a couple of cows had died, drowned in the dam.
"[It's] pretty heart breaking because you spend every day feeding them and then a stupid thing like that happens."
On Monday, NSW government announced it would give an extra $500 million in extra farm aid in emergency drought relief as the state battles one of the driest winters.
At the announcement, state premier Gladys Berejiklian said 99 per cent of NSW was in drought, resulting in failing crops, drastic water shortages and a diminishing supply of fodder to sustain livestock.
She said conditions were "now so dire" that further support was needed to address the immediate needs of farmers and their communities until the drought breaks.
The package includes freight subsidies totalling as much as $20,000 per farm - backdated to January 1 - to help farmers cope with the rising cost of transporting fodder and water, and trucking livestock to alternative pastures.
"I keep hearing people say that it's not enough, but you know it's something, and to get that back in your pocket will actually help and keep you going for another month or whatever if the drought goes or doesn't go," Mr Horan said.
Even though it's the toughest drought they'd seen, Mr and Mrs Horan said they can't imagine doing anything else.
"It's a pretty noble profession, it really is," Mr Horan said. "I've done lots of things, but his is a pretty good job.
"You get up in the morning and the birds are singing, the cows are mowing and at the moment they're chasing down the paddock cause they think they're getting fed, calf are born everyday and that's always uplifting."
"My father used to say, everyday it doesn't rain is one day closer to the day it does," Mrs Horan said.
For now, the Horans continue to wait for the ants to come.