Loaded with hay, barbed wire, fence posts and other supplies, the convoy of farmers pulled out of the wet, muddy parking lot and headed west to help fellow farmers and ranchers who were victims of the March wildfires that scorched more than 1.5 million acres.
A banner attached to a round bale of hay summed up the mission: “God Bless America — Wildfire Relief — Michigan Convoy — From our farms to yours.”
Many of the drivers are farmers, many from Allegan County. Other Michigan counties were also represented, including Ottawa and Kent.
One family making the trip, the Tucker family, is from Hopkins and own the Hawks Nest Calf Ranch. The family — which includes dad Craig, mom Kelly, and children Katrina, Caleb and Colby — are traveling in their pickup truck, pulling a flat-bed trailer. It’s an unusual spring break trip.
“It’s been phenomenal,” said mom Kerry Tucker via phone. “People are honking at us” showing their support, and at their dinner stop, people had a lot of questions. Dinner Thursday was about 10 miles west of the Mississippi River.
The convoy’s first delivery was scheduled for Gate, Oklahoma. The route will then take it north to Meade, Kansas, where they are dropping off milk replacer for orphaned calves “adopted” by the local Future Farmers of America group.
The convoy was organized by Todd Brink from Brink Show Cattle in Caledonia. Ron Bjork of Sand Lake was also instrumental in coordinating the event.
“Our hope is the goods we are delivering will help ease their burden for now and give them a boost to start again,” said Tucker. “Farmers helping farmers.”
The Hopkins Future Farmers of America raised nearly $5,000 in less than a week for supplies. This money was used for grain, hay and fencing supplies. Allegan County 4-H clubs raised close to $5,000 for fuel expenses.
“Although these kids are young, they all realize the bigger picture and see the need for their fellow American,” said Tucker. “As the 4-H motto states ‘To make the best better’ and the FFA motto ‘Living To Serve,’ these kids are truly living these words. They aren’t just written words, they are the heart of the younger generation.”
Also helping out with donations was Tractor Supply Co., and helping get the donations to these farmers, Rabbit River Transport donated the use of several trucks for the haul.
Tucker wants to make sure people understand “It’s not about us ... its those farmers and ranchers in Kansas and Oklahoma. This is a small part of what we can do to help. This agriculture community is such a tight-knit community. When something happens, we join together.”