GILMAN, Minn. (KMSP) - Farmers in Minnesota are sending bales of hay to help farmers in Kansas whose land was devastated by recent wildfires.
An outbreak of deadly grass and wildfires across the region destroyed homes, farms and hundreds of thousands of acres, including prized livestock.
In Benton County, Minnesota, one farmer, Pattie Bixby, knew she had to do something.
“These people don’t play like we do,” Bixby said. "They don’t have 20 acres. They have 40,000 acres that are gone. Devastation. Gone.”
Bixby had to fight back tears at times, thinking about her fellow farmers in Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado and Texas who recently suffered unimaginable loss.
“The farms are gone," she said. "Their animals are gone. They are just asking for fencing to keep safe [and] hay because no pasture. That’s why we do what we do. They’re our neighbors, just farther down the road.”
In her hometown of Gilman, Bixby put out the call for assistance. Her big-hearted neighbors responded, dropping off bales of hay to send to their fellow farmers hundreds of miles away.
“We done this back in 1988 when we had a drought,” said Murry Moulzolf, another Benton County farmer. “People brought hay to Foley and we got hay for our cattle back in 1988. Now, we are doing it back now in 2017.”
But, it’s not just this pocket of Minnesota stepping up. Cash has poured in through the state’s Cattlemen’s Association - more than $6,000 in a couple of days.
Collins Brothers Towing in St. Cloud and others in the trucking industry are also making sure the farm donations can get to those in dire need. Crews started loading the first haul of hay on Thursday afternoon.
“I was thinking, ‘These guys are donating thousands of dollars in hay, milk replacer and other expensive stuff. I don’t have that. But why can’t I donate trucking?’” James Trantina of Collins Brothers Towing said.
The first truckloads will hit the road on Friday, but because these fires have caused lasting damage, these farmers and other volunteers say they will keep up their efforts as long as there is need.
If you would like to help with the relief efforts, visit mnsca.org.