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Local

Farmers overcome weather challenges

No snow days allowed despite brutal conditions

Cold, ice, snow, wind chill. Farmers must endure all the elements to keep livestock fed, watered, and healthy during harsh winter months.
Cold, ice, snow, wind chill. Farmers must endure all the elements to keep livestock fed, watered, and healthy during harsh winter months.

While many others did not have to work or go to school because of the recent brutal weather, that is not the case for area farmers.

Despite bone-chilling temperatures, record wind chills, ice and snow, farmers still have to bundle up and brave the elements because animals need to be cared for no matter what the conditions are. 

“They’re working in the same elements as everyone else is dealing with and trying to avoid the cold as best they can,” said Danelle Burrs, executive director of the Lee County Farm Bureau. “They still have to be out taking care of animals rain or shine, hot or cold.”

Farmers are responsible for life-saving measures for cattle and other livestock that may not survive the frigid weather if farmers don’t help them. 

“Even when it’s 50 below the job doesn’t end because that’s their priority,” said Matt Lillpop, executive director of the Whiteside County Farm Bureau. “They have to make sure there is plenty of food and keep the water tanks thawed.”

That means every day farmers must respond to that need and count the days until spring, like the rest of us. Which brings up another question: When spring does finally come, what happens when all of the snow and ice still on the ground in the area starts to melt? Are there concerns with potential flooding as planting season draws near?

Burr said it’s hard to tell and many in the business are just taking a wait and see approach but trying to prepare as best they can. 

“At this point I don’t think anyone has any prediction on that since Mother Nature has her own schedule,” Burrs said. “Right now farmers are making preparations and making decisions now as to what to plant where.”

Lillpop said there is a positive side to the ever-growing pile of snow on the ground, however.

“Going into spring we should have good moisture in the ground,” he said. “Some years it’s been pretty dry to start out.”

Both Lillpop and Burrs added that farmers use this time to do repairs on their machines they will need and soon will roll out that equipment to make sure it all works when needed.

“So when they do get a nice sunny day and the ground is dry they will be ready to go,” Burrs said. “Until then we’re all just waiting.”

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