Texas Drought: Central Valley Helping

Just in case you haven’t heard, there’s a drought that’s devastated some states this year.  Who cares you say. It doesn’t affect me, you say. Well, we all need to care, because it is affecting countless, people and animals in drought riddled states.  Besides the humanitarian side of helping others, helping them will help all of us because the drought affects food prices all across the US.

Through one of the Central Valley’s great businesses, Sierra Desert Breeders, we heard about an effort in Wisconsin that was collecting donations to help people in Texas and Oklahoma. Of course we needed to learn more, so we contacted Sierra Desert Breeders and Carrie at Waupun Equipment in Wisconsin.

Waupun Equipment Hay Drive Photo courtesy of Carrie Mess

Central Valley Watchdogs: What is the Hay Drive?

Carrie, Waupun Equipment: The Waupun Equipment Hay Drive is the official title of what boils down to people with huge hearts  doing what they can to help those in need. It is Wisconsin farmers donating hay from their fields, companies and people from across the nation donating funds to help pay for trucking and those who so desperately need hay in the drought areas of Oklahoma and Texas getting a little bit of relief.

Central Valley Watchdogs: Who came up with the idea of The Waupun Equipment Hay Drive?

Carrie, Waupun Equipment: About 2 months ago I was at church and prayers for those in the drought area were being said. I felt like I needed to do something and starting thinking about ways I could help.  The idea of sending a load of donated hay came to my mind. On Monday I spoke with the owners of Waupun Equipment hoping they would be willing to make a donation to my efforts. Instead they offered to help me head up the drive and do whatever it took to get the hay we collected south.

Central Valley Watchdogs: What made you decide to take on this big task?

Carrie, Waupun Equipment: My husband would say that I do this because I’m a little crazy…. Honestly I never thought that it would grow to be this big of an undertaking, I am learning as I go about many facets of getting freight shipped and have picked up lots of new lingo. The spark that started this however, was feeling the need to do something to help and knowing that I should use the skills I have been given to help wherever I can. I believe it is each of our responsibilities to use what we have been given to help one another.

Central Valley Watchdogs: What companies have partnered up to help?

Carrie, Waupun Equipment: Waupun Equipment, BobCat Lawn Mowers, Dart Hay Service, Lyle Hull Trucking, Mystic Valley Farms and the wonderful Sierra Desert Breeders of California just to name a few.

Central Valley WatchdogsPlease tell us about Sierra Desert Breeders?

Sierra Desert Breeders: Founded in 2007 in the heart of the Central Valley in Tulare County, Wout Vander Goot and I (Eric Danzeisen) provide unmatched artificial insemination sales and service to dairymen worldwide.  In just 4 years we have come from being the small local company to a global competitor while still maintaining and growing our business right here in the Central Valley.

Central Valley Watchdogs: As a company located in the Central Valley of California, why did you choose to donate?

Sierra Desert Breeders: This hay drive, by Waupun Equipment Service, caught our eye from the very beginning when we saw chatter on different social media outlets.   It was always interesting/encouraging to see people donating funds and hay to other farmers in a big need of help who they never knew.  I kept thinking to myself what a great thing these people in WI are doing for these desperate farmers in the South affected by the severe drought.  Then Carrie Mess sent me an email with a story about a dairyman that really needed help now.  Not only did the drought affect them severely, but the fires destroyed everything else.  I know it is a tough time in the dairy business for everybody, especially in the central valley, but the picture of the fire was really worth a thousand words. We only did a little thing, Carrie and WES are the ones that need all of the credit!  I encourage these farmers to pay forward these donations when they get their feet on the ground and encourage other people all over to help Carrie and WES in their efforts in any way they can.

Central Valley Watchdogs: You mentioned the drive has grown larger than you expected, how much have you raised so far?

Carrie, Waupun Equipment: So far we have about 9 loads of hay donated and around $5,000 in monetary donations. We have more hay being donated every day. Each load of hay costs from $2,000-3,000 to ship.

Central Valley Watchdogs: How can others donate to the Waupun Equipment Hay Drive?

Carrie, Waupun Equipment: Monetary donations can be made via Paypal  (theres a paypal link at: http://waupunequipment.com/haydrive.htm ) or via check to the Waupun Equipment Hay Drive C/O The National Bank of Waupun, 210 East Main St, Waupun WI 53963 Or you can contact them at: WEHayDrive@gmail.com

Also, part of what helps our trucking company keep a lower cost for us is the ability to find freight to haul back to our area. If any companies out in your area have branches in the drought area that need freight shipped via flatbed to the upper Midwest we would greatly appreciate the opportunity to haul those loads.

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“We are still just shaking our heads in disbelief about the generosity and efforts you all are putting forth to help us.  We are so thankful to you, the farmers, truckers, and Waupun Equipment for everything.  This hay drive is really making a difference for us.  I would say about 75% of the mother cows in SW Oklahoma and North Texas have been shipped to market and the remaining 25% (us old hard heads) are being fed every bite they eat. Most producers that still have cows have baled some CRP acres that produced a limited amount of poor quality grass hay or have purchased some similar hay.  They are using this as filler and buying protein (cubes, pellets, liquid feed, etc. to try and sustain the cattle’s needs. What makes even a limited amount of your high quality hay so valuable to us is that we can inject it into our feeding regumen periodically to boost the protein and quality of roughage our cows are receiving.  My intentions are to use the “CRP junk” and cubes or pellets every day and then feed a Wisconsin bale every week to ten days as that energy and protein booster……. We are trying to distribute the hay in as fair and honest way as possible. This first load had 54 bales on it, so we divided it among our six closest neighbors with each taking nine bales. If you are able to send more loads, we will just widen the circle to the next six neighbors and so on.”  ~John Dee Butchee – Oklahoma Beef Producer