Prairie Proud: MDS Hay East Project

September 18, 2012
Brandi Friesen Thorpe |

For those of you who may know me, you know that my roots are pure prairies --- something I am proud of. While I do struggle with aspects, one thing I can always count on is the absolutely beautiful generosity given out, often unceasingly.

Consider, for example, the response of some Saskatchewan Mennonite farmers to Ontarian farmers in the east dealing with drought.

Many areas in Ontario have been declared to be in a drought -- this means big problems in being able to have enough feed for livestock. Ontario has essentially used up their winter supply -- just to get through their dry summer. This means problems for the surviving the winter season, and a major feed shortage. It is without a doubt, a crisis.

Merlis Wiebe, of Osler, Saskatchewan, is a local farmer and member of Mennonite Disaster Services, and is heavily involved with responding to the crisis in Ontario. Merlis explains how this got started

“It all got started when I received a call from Pastor Greg Weins, Lead Pastor at Waldheim Mennonite Brethren Church. Greg was a part of the Hay West effort 10 yrs ago when excess hay from Ontario and Manitoba moved into Saskatchewan and Alberta during our drought. After hearing about the situation farmers are facing finding hay to feed their livestock he suggested Hay East to reciprocate the effort.”

Wiebe shared that in Saskatchewan, farmers understand the crisis situation. Having gone through a similar drought in 2001 - 2002, they understand the feelings of desperation that Ontarian farmers are in. No hay means big trouble. Ten years ago it was Manitoba and Ontario pitching the Hay West. Now it was time to return the favour.

“After many phone calls, conference calls and on the ground investigations, Hay East 2012 was born”, says Weibe. “Mennonite Disaster Service has forged a working relationship with many farm related organizations in Ontario as well as [in] Saskatchewan to work together to try to bring relief to the affected areas.This is one way for us to be 'The Hands and Feet of Jesus'.”

MDS’s Hay East campaign will be physically moving the feed from out west to Ontario. They are looking into trucking companies and railways for the best transport rates, and are willing to pay full price, whatever it costs to the hands and feet of Christ. Hopefully they will be met with reduced rates and gifts, for in a week or two the first loads are to be sent out east.

Needless to say, this prairie reporter couldn’t be prouder of her home. Way to go Saskatchewan Farmers! Your love for your Ontarian neighbours is inspiring.

Interested in how can YOU help this effort? Here is the short list:

- Prayer! This is an endeavor of the church, and your prayers matter!
- Spread the word - Know farmers in need or able to help? Let MDS know!
- Donate Hay - If you're a farmer and you can help, call Ike at 306-342-4344 or email him at
- Donate financially - All proceeds go to help decrease the cost of moving surplus hay

Donations can be sent to the MDS Region V office, 6A-1325 Markham Rd Winnipeg, MB, R3T 4J6. Mark your donation for Hay East. See for more details.

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