Last week’s hot weather, the grass fire at Pound Creek on Wednesday and the disastrous fires in the state’s south-west seem a long time ago, after the dramatic change in the weather over the weekend. But the need for feed is still there and South Gippsland has answered the call in heart-warming style.
Leongatha South CFA members and local farmers, Stuart Landry and Hilco Zuidema and their team of volunteers, have been completely overwhelmed with the response to their hay drive for affected farmers around Terang, Gnotuk-Camperdown, Garvoc and Gazette where the fires claimed 18 homes, 2600 livestock and 15,000 hectares on 300 farms. They were expecting 50 to 60 bales but they got more… a lot more.
How you answered the Need for Feed
WHEN they launched their appeal for relief hay last Sunday week, the fires in the state’s south west were still burning, and they were thinking they’d get maybe 50 or 60 bales to send to affected farmers.
But two days later they had pledges for more than 500 round bales and right through until Friday afternoon last week, they were still rolling in.
“It’s overwhelming really,” said one of the organisers, Hilco Zuidema, Captain of the Leongatha South Fire Brigade.
“We thought we might be able to get the hay down there ourselves but we got so many bales that we had to call in ‘Need for Feed’ to help us with the trucks. They’ve been great and so have the people who have supplied trucks.
“It’s a Leongatha South CFA initiative but we’ve received bales from as far afield as Mornington Peninsula in the west and Yanakie in the east.
Fellow fire fighter and local farmer, Stuart Landry agrees.
“We’ve had a good hay season locally and everyone can spare a few bales of hay. We’re very appreciative for what’s come forward but it’s also a case of it could happen to anyone and we hope we don’t get our turn.”
Mr Zuidema said the local area got a small taste of what could happen when a grassfire is sparked by arching powerlines, on a hot day in high winds last Wednesday.
“We dodged a bullet with that fire we had during the week. That’s pretty much how it started in the south-west.”
Fortunately, the Lions’ inspired Need for Feed organisation has got right behind the Leongatha South CFA and with donated truck time, they started moving the hay in convoy to hard-hit areas around Terang, Gnotuk-Camperdown, Garvoc and Gazette; with trucks coming from all parts of Gippsland.
Thanks to the organisational skills of the Leongatha CFA, we were able to put our best forward but it’s likely they’ll need another group to step up and organise more hay with the need being on-going.
Graham Cockerell of Need for Feed said his organisation was the first to get a truckload into the affected area, noting the South Gippsland hay was headed for one of three fodder depots established at Terang, Penshurst and Jancourt East.
“We’ve got access to plenty of hay at the moment but going by what happened in Heyfield in 2013, Nathalia in 2012 and Kerang in 2011; they will need our help for six months.