Cooperation Among Cattlemen
ECE Lineman Brad Duncan standing between round bales of hay

A convoy of trucks and trailers left Okemah Friday, March 8, carrying 175 bales of hay and 13 pallets of t-posts. They were bound for Northwest Oklahoma, which has experienced two weeks of unrelenting wildfires.

By the time the trucks rolled out, more than 120,000 acres had burned, and 44 homes had been lost.

One of those trucks was driven by East Central Electric Cooperative Lineman Brad Duncan.

“Every town we went through, people were honking, flashing lights, and clapping for us,” Duncan said.A line of trucks and trailers piled with hay

The convoy consisted of a few semis and a half-dozen local guys with pickups and gooseneck trailers. Okfuskee County Cattlemen’s Association President Buck Rich coordinated the effort.

“Everybody who went this go around, it was 100% their truck, their trailer, their fuel, and their time that they were donating,” Rich said.

The convoy took supplies to a handful of individual ranchers in the northwest who were greatly appreciative for the supplies to keep their livestock fed and safe.

“I talked to some ranchers out there, individually, who didn’t necessarily want to go to a big drop site. A lot of those guys are too proud to go and ask for help,” Rich said. “They told me where the need was, and we came up with a game plan of taking it straight to them.”

While delivering supplies to these ranchers, Duncan said, many pledged that they would return the favor if and when the shoe was on the other foot.

“In the co-op world, one of our seven principles is related to how we jump to provide mutual aid to other co-ops in need, Cooperation Among Cooperatives,” Duncan said.

In the ranching world, Rich said, “It’s kind of an unspoken rule. When you’ve got guys that are in need, you do what you can to help out your fellow rancher. If somebody needs help, you just send it. It’s how everyone in our industry has always been.”

East Central Electric Cooperative made a donation to purchase fencing supplies, and the manager of the Okmulgee Tractor Supply was able to provide the group with a generous deal on the price of t-posts to support a good cause.

“I greatly appreciate East Central’s help with some funding. You guys are pretty lucky to have linemen like Brad Duncan that are willing to help on their days off,” Rich said. “He put most of the trucks together and he really helped get the ball rolling. We wouldn’t have had near the reach we did without him. I think that says volumes for him personally and for your co-op.”

On March 16th, the Okfuskee County Cattleman’s Association is planning to send another round of semis northwest, loaded up with even more hay that has been graciously donated. For anyone who feels called to help out, the main need is funding to help the volunteer truck drivers pay for fuel. Donations can be made to the Okfuskee County Cattleman’s Association.

“Every penny that comes in to the Cattleman’s is going to go right back out to paying transportation, fuel, or if we had enough, we’d send another load of fencing supplies,” Rich said. “Everything we take in is going to go right back to this cause.”