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Feed Run Heroes

Martinborough couple Sophie and Dan Hansen hatched a plan to help drought-stricken Hawke’s Bay farmers. Soon a convoy of trucks laden with hay was making its way north, the first of many on the Rapa Feed Run.

Sophie

Dan and myself are originally from Hawke's Bay. We have lots of farming friends there impacted by the big drought. We heard stories of farmers struggling and the price of feed was going higher and higher. For farmers who are desperate, they need to feed their animals – it makes it even more heartbreaking for them to have to pay that much for feed just to keep going.

As farmers, you're at the will of Mother Nature. Hawke's Bay has had lower than average rainfall since September last year. Our summer down here was dry. We were very fortunate that in late March we had about 200 to 250ml of rain. That's what broke our drought.

Dan follows the Burrumbuttock Hay Runners on Facebook. In the middle of the Australian droughts, they took convoys of trucks loaded with hay out into the outback. We thought, ‘I wonder if we could do something similar?’ If everyone could spare a little bit, it would add up. We came up with this idea on a Tuesday night and by the Saturday it was live

It's been so much bigger than we thought. We honestly thought we might get two unit-loads of hay and baleage up there. We’d be at $75,000- 80,000 worth of feed so far. And that’s excluding the transport cost.

smiling Sophie at table with a mug in hand

The concept of the messages on the bales for farmers – when you feed out, it's usually a solitary job. You know, he or she is out on their tractor. It's that thought that when they get out there, they remember this was feed from someone they didn’t know, who's taken the time to do this for me.

One farmer wrote a beautiful saying on hers – ‘You haven't come this far, to only go this far.’ We also had, ‘Tough times don't last, but tough people do.’

It really shows the generosity in a rural community, that everyone has each other's back. A bit of that Kiwi spirit, you just want to help someone however you can, and any small part adds up.

There’s been quite a groundswell of runs. That's part of why we did it – to spur a bit of action.

Dan

I said to Soph one night, ‘These poor buggers out there, they're running out of feed. Wouldn't it be cool to get a bit of feed up to them?’

Sophie’s been the driving force behind it. I suggested the idea and she was like, ‘Yup!’ and she was running with it.

From farmers donating one to 40-odd bales, the generosity was amazing. Helping out people they don't even know – that was just awesome.

On that first convoy, from the moment we left Masterton, there were people on the side of the road waving. There was a tractor out the other side of Woodville with kids hanging off it, and flags, and people waving.

And the closer we got to Hawke's Bay, the more people were out waving and cheering. That was probably the highlight of my time driving – had a tear in the eye the whole way up.

To actually go to someone's farm and offload the feed and to see them struggling, it brought everything home.

Dan unrwrapping a hay bale in pasture with cows