Volunteers help farmers

Many farms in the high country in Otago and Canterbury had so much snow that their animals could not move and the farmer could not move to the animals to bring them hay. For the last two days, 50 or 60 volunteers helped to rescue sheep. Most of the volunteers were other farmers. They used tractors or bulldozers to make tracks or they walked through waist-high snow to find animals. It rained for 2 days before the snow so many sheep were wet and they became weak without food for several days. When volunteers find weak animals, they put them in a truck to take them to a dry shed.

About 40 sheep stations are more than 500m above sea level and have a lot of snow. Some of these high country farms are very big. For example, Waipori Station, about 3 hours by road from Dunedin in good weather, is a large farm with 30,000 sheep, 20,000 cattle and 1,000 calves. Helicopters dropped hay to animals on some of these big farms today.

The temperature was -13 degrees this morning in inland Otago so another problem is frozen water. Animals need water and if it is frozen, the farmer has to find some way to get fresh water to the animals.

Farmers say this is the biggest snow fall they have had on their farms in 40 years.


• volunteers – people who help other people without pay
• waist-high – as high as someone’s waist
• sheep station – very large sheep farm; some have other animals too
• cattle – cows and bulls

Note: sheep– singular and plural (1 sheep, many sheep); cattle – plural (1 cow, 1 bull, many cattle)

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