Vancouver Island farm sending hay to B.C. ranches suffering from wildfires, drought
It's been a brutal summer for B.C. farmers and ranchers due to wildfires and intense drought.
Now, a Vancouver Island farmer is trying his best to help those who are struggling to get feed for their livestock in other parts of the province.
Saanichton farmer Bryce Rashleigh is sitting on a mountain of hay, with nothing to do with it.
"I've got feed, but I don't have animals," he told CTV News on Tuesday.
On the mainland, many ranchers have the opposite problem. They have plenty of animals, but no feed.
"For many of them up there, the drought was part of the problem, then the fires," said Rashleigh. "Some of them – pastures have dried right up, then the fires came."
On Tuesday morning, Rashleigh was packing up his ninth load of hay that will be sent to the mainland, with calls for hay coming from Merritt, B.C. to Swift Current, Sask.
It's hay that one rancher, who has cattle on both Vancouver Island and in Kamloops, says is sorely needed.
"Our grass has not grown since the third week of June, so our cattle have got nothing to eat because of the drought," said rancher Brian Dorman.
Dorman says the support being sent to the region is felt and appreciated by those working in the agriculture industry.
"There's so many nice people that have done everything to help people and it's so appreciated," he said.
That help comes at a cost, however.
Island resident Leslie James has donated to help cover the freight costs of transporting hay to the mainland.
"It's scary. People are wondering how they're going to get through the winter," she said.
The cause is one that's close to James' heart. She's from the Interior, and her family had to flee their farm in the early 2000's due to a wildfire.
"I just think it's so important that we help each other, and every little bit helps," she said.
Back in Saanichton, Rashleigh continues to raise money for the costs of transporting hay to the mainland.
So far, he's raised $10,000, and he hopes to raise another $30,000 so that he can send off a total of 50 truckloads.
"I just want to thank everyone who's been a part of this," he said. "It's way bigger than anything I could do or imagine."
Rashleigh is also donating his time and labour to the project. He estimates that it'll take about 90 hours to load all of the hay he wants to transport to the mainland.
The farmer adds that he's grateful to transport company Penta Transport that's been helping him haul the hay across the country.
To donate to the hay fundraiser, visit the Saanichton Farm website here.