SALEM, Ohio — It’s no secret that farmers and ranchers in Texas are struggling because of drought, but a New Waterford, Ohio, woman has teamed up with a Bastrop County, Texas, woman to get them some help.
The Farm and Dairy ran a story in the Sept. 1 issue asking for hay donations. Several farms had hay to donate, but there was one problem: The cost to truck hay to Texas stopped it from getting there.
Now, the situation has worsened in the central part of Texas where a wildfire ripped through the area in early September. It destroyed many small farms and homes.
Jean Crawford, a Bastrop County resident with 11 cattle and nine sheep on her farm, said she feels very lucky. Her farm is on a hill and when the wildfires destroyed everything, her homestead was left standing. She said the fire stopped at the fencelines on three sides. It did some damage, but nothing like others have endured.
She describes people living on the slab of cement using lawn chairs where their houses once stood and the livestock starving in the pastures and fields.
Crawford said there wasn’t much before the wildfire but afterward, there was nothing left.
“Everyone’s hurting,” Crawford said. She added that more than 30,000 acres were burned and there is no grass for livestock to consume.
Crawford decided she needed to help her neighbors who were not as lucky as she was in the fire. She knows that winter is fast approaching and if livestock are starving now, it will be even worse when winter gets here.
She said many large farms or cattle operations can afford or find ways to get the hay they need.
“I want to help the ones like me operating on a shoestring to keep their farms and animals,” Crawford said.
Following the hay
Crawford said she started following trails and found a phone number for Jan Douglass in New Waterford, Ohio, who wanted to donate hay in September but realized it never got to where it was needed.
She told Douglass of the tragedies unfolding in Texas and Douglass went to work looking for assistance.
Crawford said she has been working with FarmAid, but they are out of funding for 2011. She added that she has producers willing to donate hay in Wisconsin, Nebraska and Ohio, but the problem is finding the funding for the trucking.
Douglass is working in Ohio by talking to producers who might be able to donate the use of a semi-truck to get it there.
“The biggest issue is paying for the truck use and fuel. Surely, there is something we can do to help these people. If I had a flatbed trailer, I would drive it down there myself,” she said.
Crawford confirmed there is lots of donated hay sitting around the country that could help the central Texas producers but finding the $2,500- $3,000 a load to get it there is the problem. She estimates it will take 25 truckloads to make a dent in the problem.
The Austin-based Lutheran Social Services is helping by setting up a fund where people can donate money to help with the haylift.
Anyone wishing to donate can go to lsss.org for more information or they can send a check to 8305 Cross Park Drive, Austin, TX, 78754. Be sure to put “Bastrop haylift” in the memo portion of the check so the funds can be deposited into the correct cause.
Both Crawford and Douglass said if something isn’t done now to help those in central Texas, then the situation will only worsen this winter.