Ice, Snow & Cold Make Farm Life Difficult

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At North Harbor Dairy Farm in Sackets Harbor, it's clear Mother Nature has left her mark this winter with all the snow and ice.

"It's really put us behind for spring's work. We're probably three to four weeks behind because we've had to put so much more labor into moving snow," said Brian Robbins, the farm's general manager.

"It's a full-time job for at least one, most of the time two guys, just to keep everything plowed out and to keep us moving here on the farm," said Ryan Nortz, a farm employee.

Even the cows are feeling this winter's grip.

"There are issues with pneumonia and of keeping the barns closed up all night and not properly ventilated," said Robbins.

Another problem is the ice.

Even though the cows are inside, it can still get below freezing, which causes ice to form on the ground.

While it's not uncommon for the cows to slip, sometimes they'll fall and can't get back up.

A few cows have even died.

"When you're a big, heavy cow and you go down, it's hard to get back up. And they're an animal. Their instinct is to get back up and sometimes they hurt themselves even more," said Robbins.

On the bright side, the cows have plenty of food and heated water.

Robbins says the issue isn't what goes into the cows, so much as it's cleaning up what comes out.

"The biggest challenge we have is keeping manure moving. When it's this cold outside, especially at night with less staff on, the manure tends to freeze before it gets in the gutter and then freezes in the gutter," said Robbins.

That leaves a mess in the barn and farmers wishing for spring.

Monday, November 24, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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