Texas farmers say thank you for Iowa hay donations

LUANA, Iowa — Texas farmers who received hay from northeast Iowa through the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Operation Hay Lift say they’re grateful that someone cares about them.

Farmer members of St. John Lutheran Church in Luana say they had plenty of hay and were happy to share.

After he heard his pastor, the Rev. Harold McMillin, describe Texas farmers’ need for hay, Keith Johnson said he and other farmers in his church got several loads together.

"I did hay on halves with Derek Bentein, and we donated a truck load," Johnson said.

It made him feel good to donate the hay. In 1988 there was a drought in Iowa. He was milking cows at the time and someone gave him hay.


"When someone gives you hay, you return the favor," Johnson said.

Duaine Davis, also a member of the St. John congregation, got involved, too. He raises mostly corn and soybeans but bales the hay from his grassed waterways and sells it.

"A bunch of us donated hay," Davis said.

He donated a truck load of large square bales. Because his farm is near the highway, it became a drop-off point for donated hay. When trucks were lined up, he helped load them.

"We help each other," Davis said. "It kind of gives you a little uplift if you can do something to help other farmers. I’m glad we could help. Some day it might be dry here, and they’ll ship hay here. I’m glad it worked out for everybody. We had a good crop and everyone had plenty of hay."

There was no rain last fall or through the winter, spring or summer, said the Rev. Teresa Davis, pastor of Bethel Lutheran Church in Avoca, Texas, about an hour north of Abilene. It was over 100 degrees for 40 days in a row. There was no cotton crop and nobody baled hay.

"The hay that came from Iowa was a wonderful gift," Davis said. "Most of the farmers here run small cow-calf herds. They’re really grateful for the hay. Many were getting to the point where they were selling their breeding stock. A lot of folks are over 70, and if they sell their cows, they’re done."

Pastor Davis said farmers from her church were so grateful to get the good quality Iowa hay, they paid $75 per bale to help with shipping. ELCA’s Disaster Services paid for the rest.


"It showed that people cared," Pastor Davis said. "It was heart warming. This is faith in action."

About a month ago, "God opened the faucet and it rained 4 inches," Pastor Davis said.

When farmers heard rain was forecast, they scrambled to plant their winter wheat which is now coming up. Since the rain a month ago, they received an inch about a week ago.

John Jensen is a member of Bethel Lutheran. He raises cotton, wheat and had 100 cows before the drought. He sold about half his cows. He had no crop.

"It’s been aggravating," Jensen said of the drought. "We’ve had to feed cattle nearly all year and we’ve hauled water. It takes a lot of time and money. It’s tough not to just quit."

Jensen, who has two sons who farm, said the drought is hardest on young people.

When the Iowa hay donation came, Jensen divided it up among 20 individuals.

"I think it’s wonderful," Jensen said. "There are some pretty nice people. They were nice enough to share. I would like to thank the Iowa farmers for sending hay."

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