Last week stands out to Archie Trader for one specific reason; he was able to feed his small flock of sheep without worrying about getting his tractor stuck—a luxury he’s seldom had in the past year.
As farmers across Greene County recuperate from possibly the wettest year on record, the Greene County Commissioner isn’t convinced there’s a break in the weather.
“[This] week we got four days of rain coming I think,” Trader said. “Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday are rain so I don’t know if that’s telling us if it’s going to be another wet year or not.”
For other farmers in the county, they hope for a dryer year ahead. James Cawell, the chairman of the Greene County Conservation District and owner of Frosty Springs Farm, said the wet year has impacted everyone.
“I would have to say just about every farm… it’s really been tough on the farmers,” Cawell said.
Just like Trader, Cawell experienced problems feeding his cattle. When the surrounding pasture is heavily saturated, Cawell said tractors aren’t usable, making the simplest tasks some of the hardest to accomplish.
“It’s just very trying for farmers to go out and feed their livestock out in the fields when it’s so muddy they can hardly get a tractor through the fields to feed them,” Cawell said.
Besides making terrain impassable, wet weather impacts each farmer differently. For Cawell, that meant tackling health problems within his herd.
“There’s been some health issues with the cattle,” Cawell said. “They get what is called foot rot and get a bacterial infection in their hooves.”
Lena Galing, the owner of Lippencott Alpacas, has also had to avoid foot/hoof problems with her livestock through the past year. Another issue the weather brings, Galing said, is an increase in fly population which can create an assortment of health problems for livestock.
“When it’s wet for other farm animals, it encourages flies and that sort of thing,” Galing said. “We have protections from that. We order what we call ‘fly predators’ and we get packages per month.”
Cawell said the weather has also had a negative impact on the community, aside from agrigulture. With unstable ground, slips can occur at any moment.
“[As] the chairman of the Conservation District for Greene County, we get calls every day about roads slipping, hillsides slipping into roads, and farmers having problems, so it is a big, big issue this year,” Cawell said.
Trader said communities within Greene County are doing their best to clean up after the slips, but money isn’t always freely available to make the necessary repairs.
“From a county standpoint, the townships are just spending all the extra money they got whatsoever and some of them aren’t even able to be fixed right now because they don’t have the money,” Trader said. “So, it’s been tremendously hard on all of the townships and the state too.”
Right now, there isn’t an easy solution for Trader, Cawell and Galing. Instead, they hope the summer will finally bring dryer weather. In the meantime, they just have to adapt.
“Every farmer has to adjust,” Galing said. “That’s all there is to it. You just have to make the most of what you have and adjust with the circumstances.”