The devastating bushfires throughout Northern NSW have affected a swathe of landholders with many losing what little feed they had standing in the paddocks for livestock.
Need for Feed, a project of Australia's Lions Clubs, put out the call for volunteers to help and within four days had 14 truckloads of donated hay on the road after loading up in northern Victoria. The drivers involved donated the use of their trucks and the fuel consumed. Ironically the project used photos of the September fires over Dairy Mountain to illustrate the need for support.
Tenterfield was the last port of call in drop-offs that extended across the fire zones, and two truckloads of large square bales of wheaten hay were dropped off at Colin Keevers and Lisa Martin's property on Scrub Road on the weekend. Mr Keevers volunteered the property as a distribution hub and his time and equipment to unload and load the bales.
Tenterfield Shire Councillor Bronwyn Petrie organised lists of those fire-affected properties which still held livestock and would like to collect a bale (when she wasn't busy coordinating Coles water container distribution).
While a single bale of hay may not make a huge dint in the feed needs of those still carrying large numbers of stock, Ms Martin said the initiative is more about demonstrating to these stricken farmers that there are others thinking of them.
"It's more about mental health, and not wanting people to be feeling alone."
Ms Petrie said she is working through lists drawn from each of the areas where bushfires went through, impacting pastures.
"We're distributing it as widely as possible. Farmers are very grateful for the kind donation."
Need For Feed has been supporting communities and farmers across Victoria and now beyond since 2006. Founder Graham Cockerell donated and delivered one truck load of hay to be distributed by Cowwar Toongabbie Lions Club to farmers burnt out in its area.
He returned to his home determined to round up others to help make a difference. Neighbor Barry Medwin, who lost his own wife and daughter in the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires, donated the next semi load of hay. Mr Cockerwell's mate Doug Hamilton suggested a Bush Fire Benefit which raised $23,000 and Need for Feed was born, raising funds for fire, drought and flood relief each year since. Need for Feed coordinators of course couldn't carry out the good deeds without the support and donations they receive from Lions Clubs and the community in general.
In Tenterfield the organisation provided some feed relief in early winter with donated hay. This time they were back to help farmers now dealing with the aftereffects of fire on top of drought.