Marci Walker of Dells-based Walkera Farms has been out at the Columbia County Fairgrounds for days.
Thankfully, there is plenty of hay to go around for her cattle this year. Talking to her dairy farmer friends in other areas of Wisconsin, Walker knows the crop isn’t as plentiful elsewhere.
"In this particular area, we've been able to harvest enough of our own feed with the hay crops, but our neighbors to the northwest and to the northeast have been very challenged with winter kill, and then also trying to get crops in because we had such a late spring," Walker explained.
Walker said this summer has been a blessing compared to the drought-ridden crop last year.
"We had a little carry-over from the year before, but it was nip and tuck," Walker said. "We didn't keep any extra cattle around or extra mouths to feed."
Caleb Latham said last season was very tough for his family’s farm, Latham Valley View Farm, with the drought pushing them to buy hay for the first time at prices triple or quadruple what they were used to paying. Latham said they are holding tight to any surplus they manage to gather this year.
"We don't want to sell any hay bails. We're just afraid that we're going to run short again," Latham said.
The heavy and frequent downpours seen across the region this summer brought its own challenges, Latham said. Farmers need a few dry days to properly harvest hay, and that has been hard to come by.
"It makes a big old pond when we don't really want one," Latham said.
Walker said whatever the seasons may bring, the farming community manages to push through and help out one another as best as they can.
"It's in our genes, in our roots, and that's also what makes us stronger and more resistant in what we do," Walker said. "We face a lot of peaks and valleys, but we get through it."