For dairy farmers, without fences they don't have a farm. So across the blackened grass that was once the rolling green pastures of Cobargo, Wandella and many fire-ravaged dairy farming areas on the NSW Far South Coast, rows of star pickets are going in as farmers struggle to keep what's left of their herds corralled and protected.
When former dairy farmer Craig O'Meara drove "home" to Wandella from Canberra on New Year's Day as ash still fell from the skies, skirting fallen power lines and using his chainsaw in places to clear fallen trees from the road, he couldn't believe what he was seeing.
"I farmed here for most of my life so to see it was just sickening. Smoke and black earth everywhere, dead animals, livestock wandering the road, houses smashed to rubble; just awful," he said.
A day earlier he had learnt that two close friends and former neighbours, Robert Salway and his son, Patrick, had died beside their tractor when the New Year's Eve conflagration swept through their valley.
One of the first into the back of Cobargo after the firestorm to check on his father-in-law's farm, Mr O'Meara pitched in to help with the cows, which every daybreak, come rain, hail or shine, always need milking.
Since there was no power, they were milked by hand.
Then the hundreds of litres of precious fresh liquid was poured down the dairy's drain as without refrigeration, it couldn't be kept.
Milking, then watching it drain away was a process that continued at that farm and dozens like it in the days that followed.
After physically assisting his former neighbours as best he could, Mr O'Meara returned to Canberra desperate to find something practical he could do from several hundred kilometres away, to help out.
Raising cash to replace all the burnt and twisted wiring, pickets, strainers and posts was an obvious solution.
"For every dairy farmer down there, fencing is like asset protection," he said
"Their herds are their life and their livelihood. Without fences they don't have a farm."
When The Canberra Times recently met Aaron Salway, another of the late Robert Salway's sons, at his Wandella farm, he was re-straining barbed wire along the roadway to keep his cows in.
It was a salient reminder that no matter what awful, heart-rending things that life has thrown at you, farming - especially dairy farming - is a 365-day-a-year commitment.
"There's hundreds of kilometres [of fences] just gone," Mr O'Meara said.
"On my own, with all the right gear, I could properly fence about one kilometre a day.
"So I know from my own experience there would be a power of work and huge expense ahead for many farmers."
With help from a Canberra friend Cathy Prior, a Go Fund Me page was set up, with the donations buying replacement fencing materials from a Bega supplier who delivers to Cobargo.
Ms Prior said it was great to work on a project that was of such immediate and practical use to the local farmers, despite the slow response time of the US-based web page.
"Like many people, I felt helpless but really wanted to do something. Everyone down there is replacing fencing and are paying for it out of their own pockets," she said.
"Craig [O'Meara] was there when the first truckload arrived in Cobargo last week. It was hugely appreciated. It's a great idea and I really hope it keeps going."