Ten years ago, Les Wardrop re-ceived a truckload of hay from Eastern Canada.
Today, the Saskatchewan cattle producer is returning the favour.
Wardrop, who has 70 cows on his mixed operation between Rosetown and Biggar, has signed up to donate 100 large round bales to eastern farmers affected by drought.
The HayEast 2012 campaign was launched in mid-September in response to the significant drought in parts of Ontario and Quebec.
Ontario has declared 19 drought regions and many farmers were unable to grow hay at all.
The situation is the reverse of 2002, when the Prairies were parched and eastern farmers organized Hay West.
Wardrop was among the beneficiaries and hasn’t forgotten the generosity.
“I got a truckload, some round bales, some square,” he recalled. “I was one of the last ones to get it. It got us through until the grass got growing and I didn’t have to put the cows on grass quite so early.”
Wardrop said several of his neighbours also received feed during that campaign, and they all appreciated that people they didn’t know would help them through a crisis.
“They railed it into Biggar and a trucker brought it right to the farm,” he said. “I didn’t pay a cent.”
Trucking companies in Eastern and Western Canada have again volunteered to transport hay, he said.
Some eastern farmers have said they are willing to buy feed, but Wardrop isn’t interested in getting paid for his contribution.
“In 2010 we had 36 inches of rain, last year 20 inches and this year another 20,” he said. “Our hay crops have been double the yields (we get) normally.”
He has two years’ worth of feed in his yard and will easily feed his cattle through the winter. Last year, he sold 800 to 900 bales but said there are fewer cow-calf producers around to buy his feed.
“I have more than I could sell,” Wardrop said. “And money isn’t everything.”
Wardrop “retired” this spring, selling his farm and renting it back for three years. He might expand his herd a bit to use the extra supply.
Trucks haven’t started moving hay east yet and there is still time to donate or for eastern farmers to apply to receive a shipment.
The information can be found at www.hayeast2012.com or by phoning 855-429-2012.
As well, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and Scotiabank branches are accepting cash donations for HayEast 2012.
Donations can be made at any Scotiabank branch in Canada. The money will be used to help pay for transport.