Indiana farms do not have the luxury of shutting down when the snow closes roads and the temperature drops. Animals need to be fed, water lines need to be checked, and roads need to be cleared. On Jeanette and Rusty Merritt’s farm in Miami County, it was power that was the primary concern, “I was very worried on Sunday evening with 40 mile an hour winds and heavy snow, but the power stayed on all night; and on Monday our hog barns were warmer than our house.” Merritt told HAT their confinement operation requires a good deal of maintenance and oversight but, at times like this, it is worth it, “Every animal we raise in is a barn where it is 75 or 80 degrees. It is a blessing that, when we have weather like this outside, we have the technology and the capability to keep our animals warm and make sure feed and water are available to them at all times.” Due to road conditions, however, none of the employees on the Merritt farm were able to get to the farm so Jeanette and Rusty had to manage the operation alone, “Rusty spent most of the day checking on buildings and checking on the animals.” She added they are also busy plowing rural roads so that they can gain access to their barns. During the storm, the county pulled the plows off the roads.
Many farmers around the state used their farm equipment to help clear rural roads, Don Villwock, a farmer in Knox County, spent part of his day on Monday plowing roads in his area, “Farmers have been one of the first to jump to the call when snow closes rural roads. They are out in the cold digging out their neighbors and clearing roads.” Villwock spent much of Monday clearing a 6 mile stretch of road that runs by his farm. He added that keeping roads open is vital for agriculture, whether it is getting feed to animals or getting animals to market.
On the Kelsay farm in Johnson County, 500 head of dairy cattle needed to be milked 3 times on Monday, and the same will need to happen today no matter what the temperature. “We milk cows 24/7 no matter what the weather! HUGE thanks and appreciation today to our farm employees – their focus today is keeping the cattle safe, warm and dry along with milking 500 cows (3 times) and feeding/watering 1200 head of animals. They do it every single day,” said Amy Kelsay.