Antigonish County farmers in desperate need of rain
The area has received 5.2 mm of rain in the past month
Farmers in Antigonish County, N.S., are looking forward to some much needed rain Friday after more than a month of dry weather, but they fear it won’t be enough.
Brenda Rose is an organic vegetable gardener in Cape George and says the sprinkle they received overnight Thursday won’t make up for a month of dry conditions.
"I just came up from the garden to see what last night’s rain did for me, but it hasn’t even penetrated the surface of the soil. There are top sections that are still as dry as if they’d never seen water. In other words, it’s nothing," she says.
Rose is also concerned about the potential for damaging fires.
"I have a steel-bladed whipper snipper and I was trying to clear away some alders. The blade was running through the stem of the alder bush and about 30 seconds later, I smelled burning," she says. "I turned off the whipper and looked down and the grass had ignited. The friction was just enough to set it on fire."
Fraser Hunter from Knoydart is already thinking about what the dry conditions will mean for winter on his organic dairy farm.
"We’re concerned about forage for next winter. If we don’t get rain in the next couple of weeks, we’re going to be down in forage for our cattle herd to feed them next winter," he says.
Hoping for rain from Arthur, but only got wind
Hunter says they’ve already had to dig into their reserves for the cattle.
"The grass is getting sparse. We’re having to feed some of our winter stock to supplement our cattle out in pasture."
So far, he's been putting out about four bales of hay a day.
They were hoping for rain from post tropical storm Arthur, but all they got was wind. Hunter says there is plenty of water for the animals to drink because he has a good, deep well.
He says there is still time for the crops to recover, but there would have to be a big change.
CBC meteorologist Peter Coade says the area has received 5.2 millimetres of rain in the past month.
Rose says the season started off promisingly.
Rhubarb is doing well, but you can’t kill rhubarb- Brenda Rose
"Anything that went into the ground before the 14th and 15th of June has done fairly well, but somewhere between the 15th and 21st of June, the taps were turned off and I've had nothing since," she says. "So the transplants that went in the week following our last rain since have shrivelled up and dried in less than two weeks and none of the new seeds that have gone in have germinated."
Once the crops she planted in May are harvested, Rose says she'll have no other produce to take its place. At 2.5 acres, her operation is too small to afford irrigation.
"At this point everything is vulnerable, even the things that have shown up are not particularly tasty," she says. "I picked some peas last week thinking I would put them out to sell and they really are as tough at boots."
There is one bright spot.
"Rhubarb is doing well," Rose says. "But you can’t kill rhubarb."