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Farmers faring better than before, but still suffering effects of drought

The Francka family's dairy farm is looking a lot greener than when we visited three months ago, but their struggles are not over.

October 26, 2012|by Linda Russell, lrussell@ky3.com | KY3 Reporter

BOLIVAR, Mo.-- Farmers are adding up their losses as they prepare for what could be a very difficult winter.  That's after surviving the worst drought in fifty years.  We re-visited a Polk County farm this fall to see how they're faring following a terribly hot and dry summer.

The Francka family dairy farm is looking a lot greener than it was three months ago.  But that doesn't mean their struggles are over.  The Francka dairy herd is a little smaller than it was a few months ago.  "Sold about forty off our milk line, and then we sold quite a few smaller calves trying to eliminate them off the feed bill," says David Francka.

The drought has led to short supply and high prices for hay and feed.  "We pretty well exhausted our bank accounts paying for the grain that we're getting, plus these gold bricks that are sitting up here in the barn," David says.

But the Francka family is sitting better than before.  "We didn't know what we was gonna do," says Thomas Francka.

In July, the grass and alfalfa fields were dried up.  " We didn't know if it was going to come back or not.  Last time we cut this was the middle of June," Thomas says.

"It's really amazing what the rain did do," says David.  Now, the cattle have pasture, and there will be some to put up for winter.

What rain the Franckas have gotten has been enough to green up the grass, but it hasn't done much for their ponds.  There is very little water.  "The ground was just so dry that what rain we've received here, we've had no runoff," says David.

Fortunately, the Franckas received state assistance for a new well.  "Still hauling some water, but not as much as we were," says David.

The well water and especially the rain have been valuable gifts.  "We feel blessed that we got what we got," David says.

If the spigot in the sky will continue to provide, the Franckas hope to make up some ground.  "Hopefully we'll keep getting moisture and get that ground soaked back up to where we can have a good growing season next year," David says.

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The Franckas have already bought twice as much hay as they normally do for winter, and they'll likely still need more, but it's getting harder and harder to find.  They hope for a mild winter, so the cattle won't need as much hay to keep up their body temperatures.

Read the story from July 24th, 2012 at the Francka Dairy farm here.

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