Posted Sept 21st 2011
A few weeks ago Janice Person asked me to write a guest blog post about my Hay Drive… It can be found on her blog here… http://jplovescotton.com/2011/09/11/assisting-in-drought-relief-for-oklahoma-texas-farmers/ What I have below is what I wrote and tomorrow I will post an update to the Hay Drive story.
Each Sunday our church offers prayers for the community. It works like this, if you’re the organized and efficient type that gets to church early enough to write the reason for prayer on the list that is that. However if you are me and apparently most of the other people in my church, Pastor Mark reads the list of prayer requests and then ask if there are any other prayers anyone would like to add, never fails that at least five hands will shoot up. Maybe the opening hymn reminded them of a prayer they wanted said or maybe something else kept them from writing it down ahead of time, whatever the cause there is always a long list of prayers added.
Two Sundays ago I was listening to the prayers and was surprised when one of our church members who I had classified in the “city” group of my brain raised his hand and asked that we all pray for those affected by the drought in Texas and Oklahoma. Now I wasn’t surprised in the least that someone asked for those prayers to be said but I was surprised that it didn’t come out of my own mouth. Our town is a small town outside of Madison. Many members are the children and grandchildren of farmers but very few live or work on the farm. For some reason, I didn’t realize that people outside of the everyday agriculture world knew of the problems ranchers were facing down south. We said our prayers and went on our way off to do the things you do on a Sunday after church.
Except that all day, I kept thinking about that prayer request, it was stuck going around in my brain. First, that I had been wearing blinders to the fact others were aware of something in “my” world. Especially frustrating to me since my goal is to reach out to those that aren’t on the farm everyday and help them to realize what farmers and ranchers face each day…. DUH CARRIE! Second, I felt compelled to do something to help. I keep hearing about cattle ranchers selling their entire herd of cows because they simply can’t get feed. I pictured myself in their shoes, watching my cattle go to auction because I was helpless to fight Mother Nature. As the day went on and my gears kept spinning I came up with part of a plan.
I am organizing a “hay drive” like a food drive but instead of collecting ramen noodles and cans of three bean salad, I am going to collect big square bales of hay because cows don’t like three bean salad. Then I am going to magically transport these bales of much needed feed to the worst areas over 1,000 miles from my doorstep. I told my husband my grand, very loosely formed plan, and he grunted at me. Not exactly the warm feeling I was looking for, but he has since warmed up to the idea, slightly. Sometimes it takes a while for him to see my genius ideas in the same rose colored light that I see. He tends to see the practical things like how in the world am I going to get several thousand pounds of hay to Oklahoma. However as I continue to work my lists of contacts things are falling into place.
Getting the hay, no problem. I have every confidence in the world that our neighbors and friends will step up to the challenge to donate a few bales of hay especially since we’ve had a great crop in our area. I don’t believe this is the case just because we have full barns but because I know that the people I am asking are the kind of people that care. I was able to reach out via Facebook to some family that I have in Oklahoma that are active in the ag community there and they have agreed to help me out on that end getting the hay to those who need it most.
Once I got this together, I went to the owners of the equipment dealership where I work and asked them if they could help. And they did. Without a concern for cost or for time they said yes. I was blown away. Dan, one of the owners gave me some contacts in the trucking industry and all of a sudden Dart Hay Service was there offering to take a load down for cost of fuel. This week I sent out a press release, hoping a few people would promise to say a word or two. Yesterday I did a radio interview, took photos for the newspaper and today our local TV station came out to do a story. And the hay? Its starting to come in! As I knew it would.
I feel good doing this, and I wonder if this is why that prayer was sent up on Sunday. I feel blessed to be a person that can do this, to have wonderful contacts that help spread the word, to work for a company that cares and to be surrounded by farm friends that know we are all in this together. Last night before bed my husband gave me a kiss goodnight and said “you’re doing a really good thing.” I wasn’t in this for me to feel good in the end, but man, I feel good.
If you would like to feel good yourself and help relieve some pressure on ranchers in Oklahoma and Texas please go to www.facebook.com/waupunequipment
Posted Sept 23rd 2011
Our first donated bale gets loaded!
A huge thank you goes to everyone who donated hay, this load was donated by the Wiese family of Waupun.
Our truck driver Ron, Owner of Dart Hay Service gets a huge thank you!
And to the all employees of Waupun Equipment… Thank you for humoring my idea, taking it in as your own and playing ball! You guys rock! I am glad to have such fantastic people to work with!
Photos of the hay in Oklahoma coming soon!
Posted Sept 24th 2011
Because these pictures leave me almost wordless. Our hay drive is a success!
Notice that the baled hay is greener than the field they are unloading in.
Posted Sept 27 2011
Thank you for taking the time to read this!
Here is the short and skinny of our Hay Drive… Because of the extreme drought in Oklahoma and Texas, we have organized a hay drive to send semi loads of donated bales of hay South. We are working with local ag organizations to make sure the hay gets to those who need it the most. Currently we have around 9 loads of hay donated. Waupun Equipment has generously offered to cover expenses above what donations are brought in, however that is a significant chunk of change considering each load costs $1500-2,500 in shipping and that is with a discount from the trucking companies we are working with. The more donations we can get, the more loads we can send.
So here it is… I am asking for your help. Please donate. We accept Paypal, you can send funds to WEHayDrive@gmail.com or drop a check in the mail made out to Waupun Equipment Hay Drive C/O National Bank of Waupun, 210 E. Main St, Waupun WI 53963
More information can be found at www.waupunequipment.com/haydrive
Posted Oct 4th 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Waupun Equipment set to deliver 10 loads of donated hay to drought stricken Oklahoma and Texas neighbors, but more is still needed.
Waupun, Wis. – The first load of donated hay was delivered to a drought stricken area near Altus, Oklahoma in late September. But as organizers of the Waupun Equipment Hay Drive have come to discover, there is more work to be done.
Waupun Equipment began sponsoring a hay drive to rally Wisconsin farmer’s to donate hay that will be transported to areas in Texas and Oklahoma. The first load was delivered in September and a second load is slated to arrive this week.
“We currently have enough hay donated to fill an additional 8 semis,” says Carrie Mess, Waupun Equipment marketing director. “While we’re still encouraging donations of hay, we’re also looking for assistance with transportation costs. Even with generous discounts from our trucking partners it costs around $2,500 to deliver each semi load of hay.”
Waupun Equipment has partnered with local agriculture agencies in the communities where the hay will be shipping to ensure it is distributed to those who need it the most.
“The hay that was sent is truly appreciated,” said Kerrick Hunter — Multi-Line Agent Oklahoma Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company. “It is eye candy to cattle producers in our part of the country who have been forced to stare at their brown pastures all spring and summer. I have been talking to some of these guys and one of them described it as ‘hay from heaven.’”
The drought conditions will continue to have a serious impact on agriculture. Consumers can expect to see an added cost for beef over the next several years at the grocery store as herds continue to be culled in Texas and Oklahoma.
“Unless they receive hay to feed the animals, many of the ranchers will have to sell their entire herds, it will take years to build them to a point where prices will again stabilize,” says Mess. “Add to it the popularity and greater demand for US beef overseas, and you can see the situation we’re in unless there is additional assistance to feed the herds.”
Waupun Equipment continues to accept donations of hay at their two store locations, W7256 Hwy 49 West, Waupun or W4681 Hwy 19, Watertown. Additionally, cash donations can be sent to the Waupun Equipment Hay Drive Fund C/O The National Bank of Waupun 210 E Main St, Waupun WI 53963. Online donations are accepted via Paypal on the Waupun Equipment website, www.waupunequipment.com/haydrive
For additional information about the drive or how you can help, please contact Carrie Mess at Waupun Equipment.
Posted Oct 29th 2011
So tomorrow afternoon I will be climbing into a semi, loaded with 30 round bales and 6 big square bales headed to Southwest Oklahoma. We should arrive in Oklahoma on Monday afternoon. I am going to visit with the people who have received hay from our hay drive both there and in Windthorst TX, where we have delivered some loads of dairy hay. I intend to blog about the trip and the people who we have been able to help out. Follow my blog to follow my trip!
Posted Nov 1 2011
Posted Nov 4th 2011
It has been awhile since I have been down to Oklahoma, about 10 years as a matter of fact. But one of the things I remember is seeing cows everywhere from the interstate and along the road. I see more cows driving 10 miles in my own county in Wisconsin than I have seen driving the long way across Oklahoma. So many people have chose to sell the cows or cut back drastically in their numbers just so they can keep them fed. “Better to sell them than to let them starve” is a refrain I have heard several times. Let that sink in. A beef producers options are to let their animals starve, or sell off the herd that they have been working to grow for years, some for all their lives. The other option if they can possibly swing it is to go into major debt to buy enough hay to cover their feeding needs. This is very much like Dairy farmers who went for over a year with a one-two punch of low milk prices and skyrocketing feed prices. Many producers sold off their cattle and will never return to dairy farming. It didn’t matter if you were big or small, in 2009 it cost dairy farmers money every day to stay in business. In that situation, other than eating lots more cheese and pouring a bigger glass of milk, there wasn’t much the average person could do to help dairy farmers out of the hole. In this situation the average person can help, sending hay south directly impacts the future of these family farms. Now of course we can’t help everyone, but for those who we have helped this means the world. Many of the beef producers I have spoken with have said that they look forward to someday helping us in return. I am going to tell them to eat more cheese!
Our 3 loads of hay down here have been split up and have helped 21 beef producers. Not a single one of these people makes their income only from farming. That doesn’t mean that they are hobby farming. It doesn’t mean that they have income that allows them to buy hay. It means that in order for them to feed us, they work at least 2 jobs… volunteer on the school board, help kids show animals at fair, are active in their church and a million other things.
Before I headed down here I expected to see brown everywhere. As the truck got closer to Altus I was pleasantly surprised to see some growth. Over the last 2 weeks or so, the rain has finally come. About 5 inches have fallen and many have gone ahead and planted their wheat, which is now sprouting. The ground is still incredibly dry but this little bit of rain has started the renewal of the land. Pray for more because the ground has zero moisture reserves and it won’t take much for this wheat to die as well. Right now the winds are blowing hard and drying the soil even more and there is a freeze warning. I sure hope those tender sprouts can make it. For a little bit I was afraid that if I posted pictures of the green sprouts people wouldn’t realize that the need is still here and that the drought is a very real thing. But I think the photos show more the incredible optimism of Farmers.
Family- My second cousin’s family opened their home to me while I was visiting. These are people that again I haven’t seen for 10 years. They were amazing! Not only did they give me a place to crash, taxi service around the area and fantastic meals… They also went out of their way to teach me about the crops and animals in this area of our country. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed spending time with them. Because my close family relationships are often difficult I really appreciate my extended family and the feeling of belonging here in Oklahoma was just what I needed after a difficult summer. I really can’t wait to come back down. Of course I offered for them to come visit us in Wisconsin and even suggested a trip in February so they could experience a true Wisconsin winter, this of course after everyone was talking about the “cold snap” they were having, but I don’t know if I have any takers.
Posts on the dairy farmers we helped, my cotton learning day, my Sister and my visit with her all to come…
Posted Dec 5th 2011
So I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t done a good job at keeping everyone up to date on the Waupun Equipment Hay Drive. I took some time and pulled together some photos from both ends of the trip so far. We have delivered 6 loads of hay so far. The three loads of hay delivered to Blair Oklahoma have helped over 20 small beef producers in the area. In Windthorst Texas, dairy farmers have felt their burdens lift a little as the 3 loads of hay sent there have been distributed.
I want to thank everyone who has donated money, hay, resources or said a prayer to help us out. We are still planning on sending at least 2 more loads of hay that have been donated. We are still asking for monetary donations to make this happen. Please, if you have a little extra you can give check out the hay drive website.
A special thanks to Progressive Dairyman Magazine and High Plains Journal (Check out the Harvest Heroes Video) for the stories that they have ran about the hay drive. Both articles focused on my part but there is no way that this could have happened without Waupun Equipment and everybody else who has helped out. The Fabulous Farm Babe, Channel 3 and Jessica Arp and all of our local papers and radio stations have been amazing. I am blown away by the outpouring of support that this idea received. I’ve said it before, I had thought that sending one or maybe two loads of hay would be a really great thing. The level that this has grown to is a testament to the wonderful people that have felt it was also in their power to help.
I believe it was His inspiration that made this happen, but the perspiration of many is what is making the wheels turn.
Posted Jan 27th 2012
So it’s been awhile since i’ve sent out an update on the hay drive. To be honest things have been a little slow lately but now we are picking up steam again and getting ready to send out more hay! So far we have sent out 6 semi loads of hay. We have another load of hay paid for and that one will be heading out soon and we have another load of hay to go that we are fundraising for right now. Speaking of fundraising… Last night was the Hay Drive Fundraiser at AJ Bombers in Madison. I don’t have totals yet but I do want to say THANK YOU! times a million for coming out and supporting our efforts to everyone who was able to make it. I wish I had more photos but I realized when I looked at them today that I must have had a greasy fingerprint on my phone’s camera. Can’t imagine how that got there!
If you weren’t able to make our shindig last night you can still help and it won’t even cost you a penny. I entered the American Family Insurance “Go Get Your Dream” Contest. My dream? To send more hay south. While I would love to take a dream trip to Belize, pay off more bills, finish remodeling our house or have a down payment on a better farm, my biggest wish right now is to make a difference to a few more farmers and ranchers. You can click on the link below to take you to the voting page for my dream. Then, and this part is really important, please share the link and ask your friends to vote as well. I know people are always posting this or that about winning this or that but I really hope that you will see the value of helping me achieve my dream.
P.S. I know that having to register to vote is a bit of a pain in the butt, but really, it’s worth it.
Posted Nov 8th 2012
About a year ago I was in the middle of shipping seven semi loads of donated hay to Texas and Oklahoma using semi’s being paid for by donations from across the globe. Today I am posting these photos to go along with my talk at the Small Town #140Conf. I want to share with everyone the dry dirt, desperation and genuine kindness and compassion that that I saw through the course of the Hay Drive.
Watch Small Town live by clicking HERE… My hay drive talk will be at 10:45am (CT)