Paying it forward


“Paying it forward.” Those three little words have become a catch phrase.

Some people use it while in line at a fast food restaurant. Once in a while at the gas station or grocery store. Farmers and ranchers aren’t usually the demographic associated with those three little words.  However, over the last few days and in the weeks to come, farmers and ranchers across this nation are showing what they can do.
Two weeks ago, massive wildfires left a huge path of destruction and desolation across four states in the heartland. Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado and Kansas residents were the victims. Very few human lives perished, but thousands of cattle died, many with baby cows at their sides. And millions of acres of pastureland burned. What’s left is blowing sand.

Some people don’t know about this tragedy because it hasn’t been overwhelmingly picked up by national news stations. I feel the news stations are really missing out on the after-story. The story of how farmers and ranchers from all corners of this nation are sending help to the affected areas. Semi trucks loaded with hay and other supplies started arriving within days, and they are still rolling in.

Video sidenote: Bank accounts have been set up for people interested in donating to the efforts of Michigan’s truck drivers, businesses and farmers who understand the importance of helping people in need. Checks should be made out to Michigan Ag Community Wildfire Relief Fund in care of Chemical Bank (, or Tri-County Bank ( Cash or checks will also be accepted at any branch of either bank.  “This account has been setup not only to assist those affected by the recent wildfires, but also for any future unfortunate events that could occur across the country,” said Matt Schaller. “We see it in place for perpetuity.” 

In southwest Kansas, a farm has opened it’s gate to take in any orphan calf (baby cows). 4-H kids (with adult supervision and direction) in that area are taking care of these calves. Feeding them replacement milk twice a day (most of which is donated), caring for their wounds and loving them.

While it is truly a tragedy in a magnitude I hope to never see again in my life, I wish people could see the farming communities showing each other love and support. Both with donations of in-kind, hay, livestock feed, medications (human and livestock), milk replacer, etc., and with the prayers and knowledge that they aren’t alone. It only takes a quietly spoken request for help, and help will be there.

Farmers, ranchers and other people aren’t donating items to be recognized for their actions. They are doing it simply because the help is needed. And those who receive the help will be the first in line to return the help. That is how farming communities operate.

For me, news stations have missed the opportunity to report on the wildfires, but there is still time to join with farmers to show your generosity and greatness. Follow along with the area as they rebuild the areas affected by the wildfires. Even consider donating to the relief effort.

Jody Sharrard and her husband Jeremy take pride in being fifth generation dairy farmers in Peck, Michigan.