Feb. 22 2021 09:14 AM

    After this fall’s wildfires, now our farm is covered in ice.


    Show of hands, who is over winter?! The past two weeks have been brutal for just about everybody across the country, especially in Texas recently. And it feels overdue that farmers could catch a break!

    As an Oregonian, I really don’t usually complain about the winter months very much. We really do have it mild compared to the rest of you who deal with real winter. We usually get just enough of a taste of all the seasons for a great balance.

    Looking out my window today, it nearly feels normal — except that almost literally every tree on our 100 acres is now damaged from ice we’ve received so far this month.

    Still, we are definitely feeling thankful that none of our structures were damaged and everyone is safe. Our greatest challenge now is keeping things running. We ran completely on generator power for days with no end in sight. Rumor has it that of the 12,000 miles of power lines in Oregon, 4,400 of them were laying on the ground at one point, with enough snapped poles to cause a shortage of power poles.

    Ours is just one story of how dairy farmers face the challenges and somehow persevere. Heavy snow collapsing roofs, weeks of extreme negative temperatures, devastating ice storms…we are always held at Mother Nature’s mercy, and honestly, she doesn’t play nicely sometimes!

    How soon is too soon to deal with another natural disaster? It turns out that five months feels a little too soon. The story of fire and ice is one better left to books. But I raise a cheer to all of us who carry on although we are tired and weary. It often feels like too much, even as our passion as caretakers of these bovines compels us forward.

    Hang in there. Spring has to be right around the corner! And if anyone is needing firewood, you know where to come.


    Darleen Sichley

    The author is a third-generation dairy farmer from Oregon where she farms in partnership with her husband and parents. As a mother of young sons who round out the family-run operation as micro managers, Darleen blogs about the three generations of her family working together at Guernsey Dairy Mama. Abiqua Acres Mann's Guernsey Dairy is currently home to 90 registered Guernseys and transitioned to a robotic milking system in 2017.