Source: Janne Speirs RID 9820
On Monday October 12th I headed to East Gippsland for delivery of the first load of silage (wrapped hay) coming with compliments of the Global Grants we’ve obtained for the East Gippsland fire zone!

Heading out of Buchan into an area I’d never (ever!!!) visited previously I found myself in a gorgeous series of European like saucer shaped valleys surrounded by treed hills. An increasingly windy road took me along the edge of the hills and over ridges until I reached the meeting point and was greeted by probably the biggest load of bales I’ve ever seen!
 
68 x 4ft round bales of lucerne silage were soon being unloaded so that farmers from more remote areas could come down and pick up their quota, returning then to their farms with this short term but still valuable fodder assistance.

This was only the first of the 25 or so truckloads the Global Grants will disperse throughout East Gippsland but what really made me think as I returned to Buchan and then home was the impact on the stock and also the current state of the area.
 
Lets’ do some maths on the seemingly huge number of bales that were delivered – 1 bale at approximately 600kg will feed about 4-6 cows for one day presuming the cow is getting no other supplementary feed! (obviously there would be more sheep fed per bale!) That means the enormous truckload would feed about 240 cows for one day!! Why am I saying this? Does this devalue what we are doing? NO – if anything it makes our contribution even more valuable because it 1) shows the local farmers that we still care about their situation and the state of their stock - whether through  drought / fire / both and 2) it means that for every bale of hay we are able to provide, there is one less that farmers have to source from elsewhere, with funds they might still be fighting to gather together!
 
The other thing that hit me as I drove and also spoke with one farmer by phone was the general condition of the area I was in! You’ll see in the photos that it looks green, lush and inviting (but consider the front row seats experienced by those who stayed to fight during the fires as they watched the conflagration around them – the severity of which you can still see now in the blackened skeletons of trees on the hills eleven months on!) but as I drove through it was as though someone had painted most of the paddocks green but there was little or no substance. I have seriously seen manicured lawns in cities with a greater height than in many of the paddocks I saw on Monday.
 
Please don’t think for a minute that we are not still needed in East Gippsland – yes there has been rain, and in some cases it’s been good and soaking but it will still take time before paddocks will be ready for full stock numbers again and we must also remember that not everywhere has been similarly fortunate – areas like Ensay and Swifts Creek are still very dry.
 
D9820 through its ongoing drought and fire recovery efforts is continuing to assist those in East Gippsland who continue to do it tough as a result of these events – to say nothing of the complications that Covid has created!!!
Our wonderful East Gippsland Rotarians have picked up the cudgel on our behalf and in my role as Emergency Management Chair I can never thank them sufficiently as they continue to support their Community as Rotarians do – with compassion, care and quiet dignity for as long as it takes!!
 
Janne Speirs
(Emergency Management Chair)