Drought In Roane County

By: Mike McCarthy
By: Mike McCarthy

Roane County (WVLT) -- The recent lack of rain has most likely left you with a crispy-crunchy brown lawn.

But what if your livelihood depended on mother nature's showers?
That's the problem facing farmers as they deal with this drought.

Volunteer TV's Mike McCarthy spoke with Roane County farmers today who say help could be on the way.

Cows on Wagon Wheel Ranch have run out of pond water.

"You can see the results of the drought," said Roane County farmer Stan Moore, owner of the Wagon Wheel. "You see the brown spots all through it."

You can do more than just see it, you can hear it with each step across the crispy-crunchy turf.

"This is a serious problem," Moore said.

Moore's nearly 300 acres are dedicated mostly to hay, and this time of year he has normally reaped the rewards of his hard work.

"I've usually got about 250 rolls sold plus I've got about 80-100 already in the barn," Moore said. "This year, I've met my obligations I always do that first."

But when it comes to storage?

"The barns empty," Moore says.

So are the most of his fields which puts him down 50 percent.

With a nearly 11-inch rain deficit East Tennessee's the extreme drought conditions are turning his farm into a desert.

"Just to give you an idea of how bad this drought really is, Farmer Moore has a field on his lot that is supposed to be a pond. The water would normally come up your waist.

It's the first time that pond has been empty in 15 years.

"This is hay left over from last year," said Danny Cox, owner of another Roane County farm. "If it wasn't for this, we'd be hurting."

Cox's farm is also all dried up.

"You're going to have to come up with feed for livestock somewhere," Cox said.

And Roane County's Emergency Management Agency may just be that somewhere.

Officials say they're assessing which of the counties more than 150 farmers are in the worst danger and who they should help out with water and feed.

"I think it would be a good idea," Cox said.

Moore says even his cows know every drop helps.

"The help is always welcome," said farmer Moore. "It'll always be welcome."

Help that just might be on the way.

The drought could also dry up your wallet at the grocery store.

Farmers say the higher costs on their end ultimately means higher costs for you.

If you would like some help on your Roane County Farm, you can call the Roane County Agriculture Extension Office at 865-376-5558.

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