Brian Roth raises corn and soybeans on his land near Verndale and leaves the cattle business alone. No wrestling with "little doggies" for him.
But when chance tossed the Wadena County farmer an opportunity to help hay-strapped ranchers from two eastern Montana counties he decided to act.
Roth went to Montana to hunt, not help, but when he and his hunting pal, Neal Craig, another local farmer and Farm Bureau official, arrived in Montana they realized how dire the hay situation was. They ran down the local Farm Bureau President, Gene Evans, and discovered from him just what kind of fix the ranchers in Dawson and Wibaux Counties were in. Evans did not waste words.
"He said, 'basically, we need hay,'" Roth recalled.
With the help of the Wadena County Farm Bureau, Roth and Craig helped put together a plan being called a "Haylift." The word was spread with the help of Farm Bureau to livestock growers in eastern Otter Tail, Wadena, Todd and Cass Counties. Those who might have hay to spare were asked to deliver it to Midwest Machinery on Highway 10 northwest of Wadena over a three-day period.
Midway Machinery's generosity has made the whole idea possible, according to Roth.
"We needed a place and Midwest Machinery said, 'we have plenty of space,'" Roth said. "What we're actually doing is asking producers to do is contribute the hay."
The local hay bales will have to be loaded up in the Midwest Machinery yard and trucked 500 miles to Glendive, Mont. In addition to the hay stockpiled in the Midwest Machinery yard, Roth said there are hay bales for the Montana ranchers at two farm sites in the area.
Roth said no value will be placed on the hay being dropped off at Midwest Machinery. That is up to the owners of the bales. The farmers who contribute can put their own value on the hay they deliver and deduct it from their taxes.
Out in eastern Montana, the Farm Bureau office has put out the word and a lottery organized. Those who have their names drawn are eligible for the Minnesota hay. Since the amount of hay available is up to Minnesota farmers Roth said it will be "first come, first serve," on the Montana end. The Montana ranchers chosen will have to find a truck and pay for the trucking. A semi-truck trailer can carry about 40 round bales, but a lot of hay is needed. A herd of 100 cattle will eat 3,000 to 4,000 pounds of hay in one day.
Roth said anyone wishing to contribute toward the cost of purchasing hay from other livestock producers closer to eastern Montana can donate money to PayPal or write a check to the Wadena County Farm Bureau.
"If I can get eight loads of hay for those guys out there I'll be happy," Roth said.
Miles Kuschel, a livestock producer who lives 10 miles east of Nimrod in Cass County, was on hand last Thursday to help Roth with the job of accepting and unloading donated hay. Kushel is a member of Farm Bureau's State Board.
When livestock growers do not have enough feed for their herd they are confronted with a terrible decision, according to Kushel.
"There is nothing worse than having another guy sell off your herd because you're selling off the genetics too," Kuschel said, explaining that it takes years for a livestock producer to build up the proper genetics in a herd. Cattle with the proper genetics for eastern Montana cannot be easily replaced by cattle from another part of the country.