Local Farm Welcomes Rain

By: Philip Stewart
By: Philip Stewart

June 24, 2006

While some people in Central Virginia are dealing with the cleanup from Friday night's rain, one very dry farm in Albemarle County is welcoming any rain it can get.

At Edgehill Farm the weekend rain is exactly what they need. The grass is brown and the streams are running dry on the Albemarle County farm. As if things stay as dry as they are now, they wont grow enough hay to feed their cattle this winter.

Hay is cut twice a year on the 2,500 acre farm, but because of the dry spring, they harvested barely half of their usual amount. With the current rain deficit of nearly a foot, this fall isn't looking much better.

"You either have to buy hay, or you wind up selling cattle, cutting down on your numbers to make your hay supply work for what cattle that you do have," explained Michael Garrison, the Manager at Edgehill Farm.

One particular barn on the property is usually filled with hay this time of year, but right now it's barely half full. The demand for hay is on the rise, which is driving up the cost. Since many local farms are affected by the lack of rain, hay that's bought will likely have to be delivered from places as far away as northern Pennsylvania or even Canada.

"With the higher fuel prices, it's going to cost so much more for the trucking to bring hay in here," said Garrison.

A number of farms are already selling cattle and, unlike hay, the market is filling up. That's driving the cows' value down, so Edgehill won't get as much money if they do sell cattle.

This weekend's rain is helping with crop growth, but it's not enough.

"We could generate growth, [but] then if you don't keep on getting rain, then it just doesn't grow steady," said Garrison. "So you still don't wind up getting the full second cutting."

But Garrison has seen tough year's like this before. He's been working on farms for 20 years and says he'll still be doing it for years to come.

"I just enjoy doing it. I don't think one rough year will break me," he laughed.

Saturday night's slow, steady rain was much more along the lines of what they were hoping for at the farm. It's more likely to benefit the crops, unlike the pounding rains that the area experienced Friday night, which caused flooding throughout the Charlottesville area.

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