Hell and High Water

Thank you to our community for reaching out with well wishes and support in the wake of the recent flooding. We are so grateful that our family and staff, animals, equipment, and buildings are all safe and dry. Our hearts go out to those in our region, especially other farmers, who have experienced flood damage and setbacks.

At its apex, high water covered 160 acres of crop land here at Barstow’s Longview Farm; 145 acres of corn, 15 acres of hay land. In an effort to salvage the third cutting of hay, we tried to get in what we could ahead of the flooding and rain but didn’t make it. The water has been slower to retreat than expected and with the rain that followed (and followed again) paired with hot temps, we have concerns about the quality and nutritional value of the crop we’ll be left with. We know for certain that at least 25 acres are lost and time will tell about the remaining 135.

Crop loss is a devastating blow to our bottom line. The spring investment of seed and labor will not yield the nutritional forage crop we had planted for our herd. Instead, we’ll be forced to purchase feed from elsewhere; perhaps somewhere nearby, more likely from out-of-state. We will be paying for our crops twice and not have control to meet our high standards of quality forage.

In the grand scheme of things, we’ve made it out better than most. Neighbors and friends who grow vegetables have lost crops and markets; and will undoubtedly see an increase in plant disease that may last in the soil for years. Dairy farmers in Vermont have lost critical infrastructure and in some cases milk when the milk truck wasn’t able to make it to the farm.

“That’s farming,” is what the first five generations would have said of this flooding. These days, “that’s farming with climate change.” Extreme flooding may very well become the norm here in New England. Hot air holds more water vapor, so when it rains, it rains harder. This kind of weather and flooding of our landscape is hard on our crops, our soils, farm business resilience, and on food security.

Scientists say that the 7 hottest days on Earth in the last 100,000+ all happened last week: July 6 (~63.01F average across the planet), July 7 (~62.96F), July 4, July 5, July 8, July 10, and July 9. Hot temperatures can cause heat stress in livestock and on farmers (and everyone who must work outdoors to keep our communities fed, healthy, and functioning).

The farmers are nearly done completing an exciting update on the farm: new barn curtains. These curtains and the barn fans sync with the outside temperature and humidity to maximize air flow, energy efficiency, and cow comfort. Between the fans, curtains, and sprinkler system, our girls are managing well in this heat. Just another way that on-farm technology improves the lives not only for our famers, but also of our herd.

If you’re looking for ways to beat the heat, stop in at Barstow’s for local ice cream, milkshakes, fruit smoothies, or a fresh squeezed lemonade. We have local, cold beer for sale in our retail section too. Worth the highlight is Berkshire Brewing Company’s Hadley Grass IPA!

We are manifesting cooler weather with a Christmas in July themed Burger Night on Tuesday, July 25. Because what says X-mas better than fresh local blueberries and sweet corn?! Perhaps Old Country Road could be coaxed into singing some carols? Don’t forget your Santa hat and sleigh bells! Full event details are here on our website and more about our grill-perfect farm raised beef is here.

Looking forward to seeing you at Barstow’s Dairy Store and Bakery soon! We are open weekdays until 5pm and Friday, Saturday, Sunday until 6pm.

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