“I just needed to do something,” Peter said.
Peter, having been once a sheep farmer in Coonamble and a beef farmer in Gloucester, was aware of the trials and tribulations of living on the land and how natural disasters can hit hard.
It also just so happened he was storing 100 bails of silage.
“My daughter and son-in-law had sold their farm and the leftover silage was being stored on my property waiting to be sold,” he said.
After the floods hit the Lismore region, he called them and asked if they wanted to donate them – which they happily agreed to.
Peter then prepared to use his own semi-trailer for the transport.
However, knowing that it was going to take several trips, he put a call out on Facebook on Thursday March 3, to see if he could get a few more trucks to help.
“Depending on the size of the bales, I can carry 27 to 33 bales per load.”
His post attracted the attention of local farmers, who donated more fodder, and the Wauchope Show Society, which organised a couple transport trucks (one from Wauchope and one from Harrington) to help.
“They had not enough hay and too many trucks and I had too much hay and not enough trucks,” Peter said.
So on Saturday night (March 5), when the weather was looking fine enough to make the trip, three trucks loaded up with 80 bales of hay and made their way to Coraki.
“There is a list of farmers in the region who need fodder. One truck was sent to one farm,” Peter explained.
Being a seven hour drive, Peter stopped overnight so he’d arrived in the morning.
“It was just devastation,” Peter said, as he looked at a photo he took of a bale of hay up high in the fork of a tree.
He scrolled through images of piles of pine trees at the edge of the road from a nearby plantation and debris washed up all around him.
When Peter reached his destination, he carefully manoeuvered the semi-trailer onto the property, past waterlogged cars that couldn’t be moved, being extra careful to not go off the edges of the road for fear of sinking in.
The state of the dairy farmer was heartbreaking for Peter.
“He’s milking and there’s mud everywhere. There are no fences left, so he can’t separate his herd. He’s just milking them all, feeding them and sending them on their way,” Peter explained.
“He had a half metre of water go through his house.
“While he’s milking throughout the day, his wife is cleaning the house out room by room, gurneying the walls and putting beds back in so they have a place to stay,” he said.
As of Tuesday March 8, Peter had received an additional 300 bales of local hay and he hopes to take another load up soon – weather dependent.
“I’ll just keep running my truck up there,” he said.
And it’s not just silage that he’s transporting, the farmers are in need of diesel.
“Fodder and fuel – fuel is another big one. Either they can’t get to it or there is none,” Peter said.
The trucks each took a couple of jerry cans up with them and will continue to do so on the next trip.
“We’re just trying to keep the farms alive,” Peter said.