Written by Amanda Kramer
We’ve been home for a few days now and looking back on my trip to Kansas, I couldn’t be more proud of my community, state, and farmers from all across America. What started as an absolutely devastating natural disaster has turned into hope for so many. There were five times on our trip that I stopped what I was doing, and compiled my thoughts.
When you pull into a rest stop along I-70 in a van full of complete strangers, and you see nearly every parking space full of loads of hay, feed, fencing supplies, and household items, all being gathered by people who don’t know each other, being hauled by people who don’t know each other, and then being taken over 1000 miles across the country to complete strangers, it literally sends goosebumps down your spine. That was the first time this trip that it pulled at my heart strings.
The second time I felt all of the love for those affected by the fires was several hours later rolling down I-70 coming through IL and MO. As our group in the van started to pass members of our convoy with American flags flying from all corners of their trailers full of hay and supplies, you can’t help but look. It shows signs of unity.
The third time I felt the power of love and support to our fellow farmers and ranchers in the west was driving down 34 heading south into Ashland, KS. When you start to see charred grass, burnt out trees, and structures that are unrecognizable your eyes start to well up, you can’t breath, and your heart races. You have all these thoughts that start to run through your head, the thoughts of what if, what if this was me? Would complete strangers drive all the way to Ohio to help us? But then you remember you are part of the few farmers left in this country, you are a dying breed, and every farmer has the next farmers back.
By this time I still had goosebumps and we are pulling into Ashland Feed & Seed, the hub of deliveries of supplies from all across the nation. The amount of hay stacked there was unbelievable, piles and piles of fencing supplies. My jaw hit the ground in utter disbelief! American Farmers are literally the best people on the face of this planet, that was the fourth time of shock and awe.
The fifth and final time that I was stopped dead in my tracks was riding around in the truck with Kyle. Kyle is the herd manager at Rhoades Ranch, Ashland, KS where I spent 1.5 days working at tearing out burnt out wooden fence posts. Listening to Kyle tell me the stories about what was there and seeing what isn’t there anymore was heart wrenching. Seeing the look in his eyes as he told me about the number of cattle they had lost, the cattle they had to put down, and the fact that they were still missing three; it tells a person that yes all farmers care about their livestock, and being put into that situation is one of the hardest situations that I’m not so sure that I could endure.
I am beyond grateful that I was given the opportunity to go on this trip, and given the chance I would go again. “Farmers Helping Farmers” was our slogan for the week, and you better believe it, we helped those farmers in their time of greatest need, knowing that one day they’ll still be here to help us if we ever need it.