TROY — Farm families are known for rising before the rooster crows in order to begin the day’s many chores.
Just north of Troy, at Farm With No Name, Friday morning began even earlier for John and Kristin Lewber. The couple was in the barn, skid-loader warmed up and ready to go just after 5 a.m.
Friday morning “chores” for the Lewbers was more a labor of love.
Following devastating wildfires that ravaged Kansas and Oklahoma with an estimated 650,000 to 1,000,000 acres destroyed, including homes, barns, crops, and livestock, word was put out that the farmers and ranchers of those states were in dire straights.
Among those stepping up to the plate, knowing that, but for the Grace of God, this could be them, were the Lewbers, along with a number of Ohio farm families.
Kristin Lewber said when she saw Zach and Janell Havenar donate hay from their farm, she said,” That’s what we need to do, too.”
“There were people and farmers who lost everything and we talked about it and just wanted to help in some way,” Lewber said.
The relief effort, spearheaded by the Ohio Farm Bureau, put together a caravan of trucks and trailers, hauling at their own expense, loads of hay to farmers in the plains states who are in desperate need of hay to feed livestock that have survived the fires.
Promptly at 5:30 a.m. on Friday, the Lewbers watched as their “neighbors” from DeGraff backed a truck and a large trailer into their driveway.
Jana Caudill, her son, and her cousin Brendan Bayliss, drove to the Lewbers’ to load 15 large circular bales of hay onto the waiting trailer. As with most farm families, everyone knew exactly what needed to be done and the entire loading process was completed in less than an hour.
Once the load was secured, Bayliss and Caudill pulled out of the driveway, the sun yet to appear above the horizon as they made their way to the area of Interstate 70 and State Route 127, where they were to meet other trucks, forming a 30-truck convoy, destination Ashland, Kan.
The drive to Kansas is expected to take some 15 hours. Trucks will then be unloaded and return to Ohio.
Lewber said for those who are interested in giving donations of any kind to check the website www.ashlandcf.com for the most updated information.
“There are people who have lost not only their cattle and barns, but their homes and everything in it so they are starting over,” Lewber said.
Of course, hay is not the only thing needed by wildfire victims. The Ohio Farm Bureau can assist in finding where your donations can best be used.
The Ohio Cattle Association is also assisting with organizing donations. Cattlemen Caring for Cattlemen offers information on Fire Relief Resources. For more information, please visit, ohiocattle.org.
Reach Mike Ullery at (937) 451-3335