Clark County ranchers get hay, help from Illinois farmers

Volunteers from Illinois gather around a semi with a load of round bales of hay trucked into Ashland, Kan. in late March, 2017. (Photo: KSN/Santiago Kahn)

ASHLAND, Kan. (KSNW) – After the devastating wildfires in western Kansas earlier this month, donations and volunteers have been pouring into Clark County from across the country.

The latest group to show up to help without knowing any of the fire victims came from Illinois.

“We’ve been watching the videos on Facebook and all the posts for the last couple of weeks on how devastating it was down here,” said Illinois farmer David Winans.

Eighteen farmers from Illinois brought a caravan of flatbed semis full of hay and other supplies for Clark County ranchers.

“Eleven are loaded with round bales of hay,” said Winans. “We’ve got our van trailer’s, got square bales in it. It’s got feed in it. It’s got mineral in it.”

But the latest load is only some of the donated hay bales collected by organizers who said they had to leave behind about 600 bales because they didn’t have enough trucks to haul it.

“This livestock that’s left, they don’t have anything to eat, and they’re not going to survive without any kind of help, and anything we can do to help to take that stress burden off these farmers and ranchers, as a farmer yourself, you just want to do something,” said Illinois farmer Lynn Rohrscheib.

The simple truth is there’s no shortage of help from Fairmount, Ill.

“I think by the time you got all the families and all the individuals and different businesses involved in it, there was over 200 people who were involved in this convoy to make it possible,” Rohrscheib said.

The donations coming in from the farmers in Illinois is just the latest in a long line of cross-country donations.

“There’s been love and support throughout all the United States, and it has been so humbling, and we just can’t thank these people enough,” said Janell Smit with Ashland Feed and Seed.

She said without the support Clark County has received, she’s not sure the local ranchers would recover economically.

But the hay and other farm supplies aren’t the only form of help those in Ashland have received.

When 13-year-old Bryce Talberg who works in a family dairy operation in Minnesota saw news reports of the devastation from the grass fires, he decided to help by donating his entire month’s paycheck to help ranchers.  Bryce traveled to Kansas and met Harry Walker from Englewood who’d lost 5,000 bales of hay and miles of fencing.  Bryce plans to go back to Minnesota and help organize a “Hay for Harry” event later in April.


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