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Hay bales Florida-bound

July 27, 1998

photo: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer

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hay bales for FloridaBy CLYDE FORD / Staff Writer, Charles Town

RANSON, W.Va. - Jefferson County farmers battled heat and the clock Monday as they worked to load up their donated hay to send to Florida farmers this morning.

"The days are starting to run together," said Jefferson County farmer Tyree Kable, who has worked from before 6 a.m. to midnight daily for more than a week to organize the hay relief drive. Many Florida farmers lost their hay crops to wildfires and a disastrous dry spell, he said.

Kable spent Monday making last-minute calls seeking donations to pay for the fuel for the tractor-trailers hauling the hay to Florida.

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On a farm off Leetown Pike, dozens of farm workers unwound 500-pound round bales so the hay could be baled into 500-pound square bales, said Mike Sienkiewicz, executive director of the Jefferson County Farm Service Agency. The square bales take up less space and are more stable when stacked, he said.

Sienkiewicz said at least seven tractor-trailer loads of hay are being shipped to the Florida farmers.

About 20 farmers had donated hay when the drive began Friday. Since then, about 20 more farmers from Washington County and Franklin County, Pa., have contributed.

"This has been a great effort," Sienkiewicz said.

The idea for the fund drive started when Kable saw a television program about a similar effort in Virginia.

Two drivers will be in each vehicle to take turns driving until they arrive in Florida tonight. Other volunteers are making the trip to help unload the rigs at a Florida fairground.

Marty Kable said the relief effort comes at a time when many Jefferson County farmers have time to do volunteer work.

"Luckily, it's in between seasons," he said. "We just baled 45,000 bales of straw and we're in between grain harvests."

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