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Hay run delivers hope to local farmers

Ray Spresser and his mum Pearl on the family dairy farm in Ebenezer.

It’s a welcome sight for dairy farmer Ray Spresser, as he watches a truck roll in to his Ebenezer property laden with bales of hay.

As the drought continues to bite, this will be the first year that the sixth-generation dairy farming family will not compete in the Carnation Jersey Stud at the Ekka.

“We’ve been exhibiting at the show for about 100 years, but we’ve had to stop this year. It’s just too dry,” Mr Spresser said.

With the price of hay surging to almost $400 a bale, Mr Spresser says he’s incredibly grateful for the hay delivery, which was bought with money raised from an Ipswich City Council Staff Social Club fundraiser, in partnership with Bremer Ford.

“This will make a real difference to us,” Mr Spresser said.

“We know how much time and money it’s cost, and to know you’ve done it for us – it’s a big deal.”

The Spresser family recently had to sell off six of their cows to make ends meet.

But Ray’s 83-year-old mother, Pearl, says the hay delivery will buy the family some time to work out what to do next.

“It’s a beautiful sight to see that hay sitting over there,” Mrs Spresser said.

“I’ve been here 60 years and I’ve never seen conditions this bad. We really need the help right now.”

The farm is currently in the grip of a ‘green drought’ after a small amount of rain in recent weeks.

“It’s the first time we’ve had grass since last March, but most of the green you can see isn’t grass at all, it’s pigweed,” Mrs Spresser said.

The 83-year-old prides herself on knowing all the names of the farm’s 90-odd cows and gets plenty of help from the grandkids in naming them.

“Ray’s daughter wanted to call every cow after socks. So we have Ekka socks. Left socks, Right socks, Leg-in socks,” Mrs Spresser said.

“You can’t keep everything from them though. The grandkids were talking about pooling all their pocket money and what they would be able to buy to keep things going. They know how tough things are.”

In the short term, the hay delivery will keep the farm going, but going forward, Ray said that they were all hoping they would get enough rain to turn things around.

“It’s so dry out there, nobody’s got anything,” Mr Spresser said.

“We need quite a bit of rain for things to change.”

The Spressers were one of two farming families who received hay deliveries, after being identified by the Aussie Helpers charity, which helps farming families who are struggling through drought.  

The money was raised by Ipswich City Council’s Staff Social Club, in partnership with Bremer Ford, and the bales were delivered by Lockyer Sheds owner Dean Heit.

 Read more:

>>> Ipswich area officially in drought

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