Flattened corn, drowned squash and hundreds of gallons of dumped milk — local farms say they saw heavy damage from July’s rain.
Two storms last month brought several inches of rain to the Monadnock Region, the second of which inundated southern Sullivan County and northern Cheshire County. Between road closures making farm access difficult and the excess water ruining crops, farmers are still determining the extent of the floods’ impacts.
John Luther of Parnassus Farm in Acworth said he had to dump almost 800 gallons of milk — about three days’ worth of milking — when roads made impassable by flooding prevented pick-up and delivery trucks from making it to his farm for four days. Despite the loss, the dairy farmer has remained positive.
“We don’t cry over spilled milk,” he said, adding that Parnassus Farm, which sits on a hill, didn’t experience as much damage as other farms in the area.
Luther said he still expects to harvest hay this season, even though the fields were too wet to work on in July.
“My feet started to web, that’s how bad it was,” he said, laughing.
In the wake of the heavy rains, Luther said he’s grateful for the hard work and generosity he saw from the community.
As flood-related obstacles blocked his road, Luther was able to reach the outside world by crossing through Bascom Maple Farms’ property, an allowance he said he greatly appreciated.
But that’s not to say Bascom has not faced its own share of challenges. With almost all access from the south cut off by road closures, some people are having to drive an additional 10 to 15 miles along roundabout routes to reach the farm, according to owner Bruce Bascom. After the July 29 storm, the maple farm was closed for four days, Bascom said.
Bascom Maple Farms ships syrup across the country and also sells sugaring equipment, but the Crane Brook Road and Route 12 closures have made both operations more difficult as they present challenges to large tractor-trailers, Bascom said. Some trucks have even gotten lost while trying to find an accessible route to the farm, he added.
Blueberry Acres on Derry Hill Road in Acworth had been open only a week and two days when the second of July’s two big storms hit, and the pick-your-own farm closed July 30 and 31 while repairs were made to the road, according to Glenn Elsesser, whose family owns the patch. While getting to the blueberry farm hasn’t been as easy as it typically is, Elsesser said people are still coming to get berries at the peak of their season.
“The majority of our customers are pretty loyal,” he said.
A few miles from Blueberry Acres and just down the road from Bascom Maple Farms, Cadillac Farms’ cornfield on Bascom Hill Road was flooded last month.
“We probably lost 5 acres of corn that won’t be able to be salvaged,” said owner Peter Hawkes, adding that gravel, rocks and trees are also strewn across the field. Water overflowing from a nearby brook flattened the corn, he said, and all that can be done is leave it for any passing deer looking for a snack.
The flooding has also delayed Hawkes’ hay harvest, but he said having a farm on a hill proved advantageous.
“We got out of it pretty good,” he said.
At Whittaker Homestead on Forest Road in Alstead, damaged equipment is an additional loss on top of ruined crops.
The rain flooded the homestead’s squash field and water pump, owner Lizz Whittaker said. It’s unlikely any squash will be salvaged, she added, and the pump needed to be replaced.
“Now we’re in the seeing-what-plants-we-can-recover stage,” said Whittaker, and she’s waiting to determine whether the tomatoes are too waterlogged to salvage.
Almost every farmer The Sentinel spoke with expressed appreciation for local road crews and town officials for their efforts in quickly repairing roads.
“The state and town workers did a wonderful job of getting the roads back in shape,” Elsesser said.