SHERIDAN — Jeff Young wouldn’t let a hay fire damper his community-first mentality.
On Aug. 2, Young’s cousin was driving 300 bales of hay to Young’s Farm when the trailer and hay started to burn. Law enforcement officers on site suspected a passing car tossed a cigarette butt out the window, setting the hay ablaze, Young said.
Young also lost his 40-foot trailer to the fire.
The Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association Chapter 36-1 out of Casper subsequently raised $1,100 to replace the hay Young lost. The surprise fundraiser kept Young from getting behind on winter schedules.
On Aug. 7, a dozen people unloaded 10 tons of hay at Young’s Farm from sundown until about 10 p.m. During the evening, Young and one of the volunteers raced each other to see who could throw bales the fastest.
Young said it’s important for CVMA and his own farm to work cooperatively, to give back to each other and the community.
“[It shows people] they’re not just badass bikers,” he said. “There’s a cause, there’s a reason behind what they do.”
Young is a veteran himself and said he appreciates the work CVMA does to give back to veterans who may need assistance. “They help us and we help them,” he said. “It’s a very good relationship all around.”
Young’s Farm is a veteran and family-owned hog farm in Parkman, according to their Facebook page. They raise close to 200 hogs per year, Young said. For Young, the most important part of his farm is opening the grounds to veterans who need a safe place to recover.
“When I got home, I was lost,” he said. “This farm is my way of giving back to the vets.”
Rachel Webb, State Auxiliary Representative of the Wyoming CVMA, said Young always gives back to his community, including donating pigs to Feeding Veterans and Toys for Tots.
“This time,” she said, “we decided to give back to him.”
Young lets veterans stay at his house if they need it, or simply come by and play with the animals.
“It’s amazing what a little piglet will do for your mind,” he said.
The farm is open for animal therapy and to Sheridan College for agriculture classes.
Young said he didn’t know that money was being raised to cover the cost of the lost hay and trailer until he was told to get ready to unload. He still doesn’t know who paid the tow bill, but he said he’d like to thank them and give something back.
Hand and neck injuries he sustained in the military kept Young from pursuing his goals for years. He started Young’s Farm on disability checks from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. By VA standards, he’s not allowed to work, he said.
Young said with the help of his family, community and the Semper Fi Fund, he was able to transform the farm into a successful hog operation. He is grateful for the impression the unloading experience left on his children — showing people working hard together.
The Semper Fi Fund is a nonprofit that provides financial assistance and support to injured combat veterans and their families, according to their website.
Young said they helped him purchase a tractor and provided start-up funds, medical guidance and business support, which accelerated his five-year goals to be accomplished in two and a half years.
Young and Nicky Schlauch will be celebrating their wedding on Oct. 19. Webb said the CVMA wanted to ensure they could celebrate without worrying about replacing the hay themselves.