Local farmers head to Kansas with truckloads of hay to help wildfire recovery

A group of farmers from across southwest Wisconsin piled hay on top of their trucks and headed off to Kansas Thursday night to help fellow farmers affected by devastating wildfires in the southern portion of the Sunflower State.

Alex Esser and Jake Kalscheur were two of those farmers, each taking their truck, leaving at 8 p.m. from a Cross Plains-area farm on a 14-hour journey to Kansas.

Each truck carried a trailer with 20 large square bales of hay to give to farmers in need. Additionally, an area farmer gave Kalscheur steel fence posts to donate to the rebuilding efforts.

“You work so hard for everything you got, it’s a family thing, family, buildings that have been there for generations,” Esser said. “To see everything gone in a blink of an eye is pretty heartbreaking.”

For the two farmers, heading to Kansas is a means of paying it forward.

Local farmers head to Kansas with truckloads of hay to help wildfire recovery

“Every time I think of what’s going on down there I just picture to our farm,” Esser said. “Years down the line if something devastating takes out our area, you take it down to them, they’ll pay it back to you eventually, someday.”

The two Wisconsinites said while they may live many states away, they hope to show that America’s farmers stick together.

“There’s a bond between all farmers,” Kalscheur said. “I consider us a family, no matter what you farm.”

Also taking part in the trip to Kansas and donating hay and other rebuilding supplies were students from Southwest Technical College in Fennimore and other southwest Wisconsin farmers.

They said they hope to be back in Wisconsin by Saturday.