When South Gippsland dairy farmer Charles Jones heard that south-west dairy farmers had lost thousands of kilometres of fencing in the St Patrick’s Day fires, he sprang into action.
He grabbed his dad’s tractor, his mate’s trailer, a post rammer from somewhere else, collected about $8500 in donations of goods from his local community and drove 500 kilometres in his ute to the south-west.
Arriving at Blaze Aid’s Cobden camp on Thursday last week, he embarked upon a mission to ram in 1500 fencing posts by this Tuesday when he has to head home because his mate wants his trailer back by Wednesday.
Well experienced in fencing, Mr Jones had rammed in 1000 posts by Thursday this week and was advancing quickly upon his 1500 post target.
He said he volunteered because he had “dried off” his dairy cows and had time to do so, and because he wanted to help.
Mr Jones is among more than 120 Blaze Aid volunteers working to replace burnt fencing and other farm assets burnt in the fires.
Among those working with Mr Jones were Sarah Butler and Melissa Butler, daughters of Blaze Aid founder Kevin Butler.
Sarah Butler said she and her sister had done many Blaze Aid projects since their father founded Blaze Aid after volunteers helped him replace fencing burnt on his Kilmore East farm in the 2009 Black Saturday fires.
The two were very conscious that when farmers lost their fencing, they also often lost their ability to earn a living, she said.