A severe lack of rain over most of the district for much of this summer has area farmers looking for water—both for their crops and for themselves.
Drought-like conditions have dried much of the countryside up like a bone, and rural residents are starting to feel its effects.
“A few farmers are running out of water from what I hear,” noted Cornie Fehr, who farms just northwest of Barwick.
“And the later crops are going to be pretty light because we don’t have the moisture to fill things out,” he added.
Amos Brielmann, president of the Rainy River Federation of Agriculture, said yesterday it’s so dry even the beaver ponds along the creeks have dried up.
“I’ve never seen anything like this," he noted. "I’m afraid we’ll eventually run out of water in the dugouts to pump to the cattle.”
Forage crops are very hard hit. Fehr said a second cut of hay doesn’t seem likely for many farmers, and feed for cattle is looking sparse.
“Pastures are non-existent in a lot of places," he remarked. ”The average acreage is just bare.
“I’m afraid there’s going to be a lot of cows that are going to the auction block this fall," he added. ”To ship [feed] in is very costly.
“It doesn’t figure in for a cow/calf operation.”
“There’s people selling truckloads of cows already," echoed Brielmann. "And there’s people feeding hay already.”
To make matters even worse, whatever plants were able to grow this summer have been plagued by grasshoppers. They have had excellent breeding grounds this year, Brielmann noted, with plenty of bare ground to make their nests.
“It really took a beating on legumes and pastures," he said. "What’s left out there, the grasshoppers eat half of it.”
“They’re really thick this year,” agreed Fehr.
“On my crop, they’ve damaged a lot of the canola and wheat,” he said, adding the reduced yield, combined with the reduced prices for both cash crops, will be a heavy blow.
Farmers selling their cattle now aren’t getting much for their efforts, either, Fehr noted, with cattle beef prices still very low.
“It will be tough for guys who have to sell their herd,” he feared, noting it could be a long winter for many farmers.
“Anybody that’s short of feed is going to be in a tight pinch.”
“I hope the winter is warm and not very challenging," Brielmann added. "Otherwise, we’ll not have the hay.”