- Posted August 14, 2012 by
Hamburg Townshipo, Wisconsin
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Heat and droughts strike U.S.
Wisconsin Organic Dairy Weathers U.S. Drought- Part 2
According to a Climate Overview from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the average temperature of the contiguous U.S. during July 2012 was the warmest since 1895. The previous warmest July in the country dates back to 1936, when the U.S. was in the throes of the Great Depression, and the Dust Bowl. When photographing today’s farms and landscape in sepia-toned images, they seem stunningly similar to images of 75 years ago.
As part 2 of a previous iReport on a Wisconsin organic dairy farm, this iReporter provided some additional images as part of a week-long photojournalist project. Jim Servais, who was born in 1938 bought the Hamburg dairy farm back in the early 1970's. He posed for a series of photos, and helped provide some perspective on the Drought of 2012.
As Jim points out, “dairy farming is a lot of hard work.” For their organic dairy farm, his son Tim who knows runs the operation planted their corn later than most farmers in Wisconsin and the Midwest. Even though the soil was bone dry, occasional rain help the corn to sprout, even though it was spotty throughout the field.
In photographing Jim, his left hand showed the ravages of rheumatoid arthritis. On his right hand, he is missing his middle finger, thanks to an all-to-common farming accident. As Jim points out, “with all the farm implements around, it’s not too difficult to get an injury if you’re not careful.” He shrugged the injury off as something that goes with the job.
To keep the farming operation profitable, Tim hires much of the big equipment job out to other subcontractors. To help feed their cows, they cut their own alfalfa. Tim pointed out that on an organic farm, the cows weather the extreme warm temperatures because they don’t push them to produce milk.
The dairy farm also has a fair supply of chickens that typically take over the farm equipment when they are let out from the coop. The family uses the organic eggs as part of their daily diet. And of course, the farm has an ample supply of “dairy kittens” looking for milk and companionship.
As the clouds keep forming in the west, at least in this portion of Wisconsin, more rain is beginning to make it to the area. For this organic farm, the hope is that the corn will “cob” soon. And if the dairy farmers are lucky, they will not have to search out for additional feed as they head into the fall and winter. With the many risks the weather can bring a farm, this organic dairy appears to be weathering the drought better than many throughout the U.S.