Cows. Corn. Beans. Peas. Milk. Grass. Hay. All are in short supply for the Amish this summer in Northern Indiana.
With our area officially in a “moderate drought,” even the regular crop farmers with huge irrigation systems are suffering. My brother-in-law, who farms around 2,000 acres, said he’s losing about 30% of his crops, affecting his bottom line, and that’s before he factors in the cost of irrigation.
Many of the Amish don’t have irrigation, and if they do, it’s a rather crude version when compared to the huge mechanisms that can spread across an entire soybean or corn field. I wondered how the local Amish were faring, so I asked my friend Mahlon.
“If crops were put out with no irrigation, there has been no production at all from those crops. We have no corn from our first two plantings. We were planting about a pound of beans a week ever since the first part of April, and had them for only three or four weeks. We are completely out now. We had no peas, and the melon crop is very light.
“Another problem is that hay is extremely expensive,” he explains, pointing out the need for more hay because no grazing pasture exists this summer—everything is dead.
“Normally the top cost of hay is $200.00 a ton. Right now it’s over $400.00 a ton. That’s the equivalent of $8.00 for a small square bale. A cow will eat about a bale a day. With the cost of milk a day from a top producing cow who makes from six to eight gallons of milk a day, the farmer isn’t even breaking even.”
Mahlon is one of a small number of farmers who is working out of town at a part-time job, trying to make ends meet for his family. He says his family is okay…squeezing through, but okay.
He did say he knows of five or six Amish couples who sold all their cows.
“I don’t know what they’re going to do. Most of them would have their own replacement heifers they were raising, and those don’t need the high quality hay. In another year or two they will be doing okay, but I’m not sure what they will do until the herd is ready.”
And in his usual, refreshing way, Mahlon ends with a simple but provocative thought:
“There’s really no sense in worrying…. I heard a preacher recently say we shouldn’t let the weather get us down and affect us negatively, and I agree. We should be able to rise above. If we can’t rise above, then we have deeper problems than drought.”
Well said, Mahlon.
How are people…English or Amish…surviving the drought in your area? Post your reply below!
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