Cows need relief, too.

One of the less-told stories about the massive Carlton Complex Fire in Okanogan County — the one that has burned down 300 homes and scorched nearly 400 square miles — is how badly cattle have been affected.

People come first, but the state’s largest fire in history has killed hundreds of cows and left the survivors with little pasture in the Methow Valley, where ranching is one of the economic pillars.

News stories and photos depict apocalyptic scenes of either dead cows or a few live ones grazing on tiny strips of green surrounded by an ocean of black. Some experts suspect it could take more than two years for the grass to recover enough to graze.

This story says some alfalfa fields not burned were lost due to lack of irrigation when the fire knocked out power to much of the Valley.

“Good” hay — a middle-of-the-road classification — costs anywhere from $225-$240 per ton in Washington and Oregon, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture figures.

To help, the Washington State Hay Growers Association, based in Pasco, is collecting hay and other feed for Okanogan County ranchers left with too little food for their cows.

Organizers have received some donations from association members and are divvying them up with the help of local law enforcement representatives. But they want all growers to contribute, members or not. They also need help trucking the feed to Okanogan County.

To get involved, call the association at 509-585-5460.