FARM HELPERS: Dennis Hiscock and Dave Paish spent two weeks helping farmers in Victoria after recent bush fires.
FARM HELPERS: Dennis Hiscock and Dave Paish spent two weeks helping farmers in Victoria after recent bush fires.

Farmer who 'lost everything' pitches in after bushfires

WHEN dairy farmer Dave Paish saw the devastation caused by the recent Victorian bushfires he knew he had to do something to help.

Dave is no stranger to bad luck as his own farm had been hit by floods in 2011, 2013 and again last year.

"I know what it's like to lose everything, we've been flooded out a few times, we lost everything in 2011 including 40-odd stock, then it all sort of went wrong last year with more floods," he said.

Fortunately, Blaze Aid, a volunteer charity, arrived and helped him put up the fences he'd lost.

"We'd have been stuffed without those volunteers and donations they provided," he said.

"So when Blaze Aid put out a call for anyone who could put up a fence to help the Victorian farmers, I thought, well I've put up a few fences in my time."

In early April, Dave and his mate from Nagoorin, Dennis Hiscock, 71, set off to help.

Three days later the pair arrived in Cobden, Victoria, where the other relief workers had gathered.

"We stayed at the Blaze Aid camp at Cobden and a lot of grey nomads turned up as well," Dave said.

"Blaze Aid had sourced trailers full of posts and wires they just needed volunteers to help put them in the ground."

"They'd set up showers, supplied the food and every day they sent us out with lunch to help the farmers in the area,"

The devastation caused by the fires was breathtaking.

There were plenty of farms that had burnt out, they'd lost homes, sheds and livestock.

"The farmer we were helping not only lost his house and fences, he'd just buried mother-in-law and his brother-in-law, then his cousin died while we were there."

Dave and Dennis worked alongside another volunteer, a Victorian dairy farmer who had arrived to help out.

"We got along with him pretty good, he had a goal of putting in 1500 posts, so he'd borrowed his father's tractor, a mate's post-rammer and another mate's trailer and he'd got a load of donations as well," Dave said.

They put in over 500 posts.

"We ended up staying longer than we were going to, but they're desperate at the moment because the cows are starting to calve," he said.

"It's a massive job and Blaze Aid will be there till Christmas because there's fences down everywhere."

"They've put out a call for seven more tractors and post rammers, and I see Kubota just donated one."

When they returned home they found their neighbours had pitched in to help them.

"We'd just done a 5250km round trip and Chris Isaac from Red Dog Steel had donated some fuel for us which was good of him," he said.

"I wanted to stay longer but work needs doing on my own farm, but if I can I'll go back before Xmas and put in another week or two."

"The more people they can get to help the better."