Wayne Ouimette, field hand at Rulfs Orchard, said the effects of the hot, dry summer can be seen on many of the farm’s crops.
Photo by Shaun Kittle.
Conroy said the pasture land didn’t recuperate like it normally does after the midsummer dry spell, so he was forced to dip into his supply of winter hay.
But on a small-scale farm, adjustments can made.
Conroy could buy feed to get him through until next spring, be instead he will probably sell a few animals either for breeding stock or for beef.
Either way, the decision will keep the price of his beef from rising next year.
“Our beef does cost the consumer a little more because it isn’t subsidized,” Conroy said.
Conroy explained that corn is heavily subsidized by tax dollars, and since factory farms tend to feed corn to their animals, most beef found in grocery stores is already partially paid for by taxes.
There is a trade-off, though.
Animals raised on smaller farms have room to roam and graze, are less likely to be injected with growth hormones and antibiotics, and enjoy diets consistent with their natural habits.
“When you buy local, it’s a more consistent product,” Conroy said. “When there’s an E. coli outbreak it doesn’t affect us, and since we are feeding our animals high-quality grass, people really love the flavor and all the vitamins and minerals behind it.”
Conroy added that the nation’s drought, and the subsequent increase in food prices it might cause, are good reasons for people to begin shopping closer to home.
“We live in a culture where family farms only appear in kid’s story books,” Conroy said. “When people buy from little farms it creates a ripple effect that goes into making healthy communities.”
To learn more about the region’s farms, or to find a farm near you, visit adirondackharvest.com.