Outages leave some Vt. farms out in the cold - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Outages leave some Vt. farms out in the cold

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The Magnan family owns two farms in Sheldon and leases a third. They are raising 2,200 head of heifers. And Tuesday is the third day in a row without power due to the ice storm.

"Challenges? Trying to get the animals fed, trying to get the barns clean so they are not standing in a lot of manure and just keeping everybody warm," said Joanne Magnan of Diamond Hill Custom Heifers. "Running from farm to farm and making sure everything is OK."

And moving generators from farm to farm to try to get chores done.

"We have been trying to tap into our barn here and trying to get select things going with the generators as far as the alley scrapers and stuff. Keep the barns clean from freezing up, keeping our curtains under control because ventilation is a key thing. You can get pneumonia pretty easy this time of year with your animals," said Kelly Raymond, a farmworker.

And it could be days before the power is restored. Crews from across the northeast are in Vermont helping to repair lines, working through Christmas holiday.

"They were saying it could be after Christmas. I don't have definite amounts of time, but could be three days. It's been three days now another three days is a lot," Magnan said.

Vermont agriculture officials put out a list of precautions for farmers to keep both animals and workers safe and warm and have enough food and water remain self-sufficient for a week.

And it is not just animals down on the farm that are at risk. Wildlife is having a hard time finding food, especially birds.

"It is going to be a continued problem, especially for animals, like I said, whose food now is going to be frozen. Other animals I am concerned about-- those that eat seeds and berries. Those are mostly all frozen up, so if you are a person who does keep a birdfeeder and maybe every once and a while lets that feeder go empty for a couple of days, these would be a couple days where they would really be helpful for animals to have," said Larry Clarfeld of the North Branch Nature Center.

And fallout from this storm is far from over.

"The sugar makers are going to have lot harder time this year than what we are right now, because the trees are really being affected right now. So, we are surviving, we are doing the best we can and the power crews are coming in from different states and I want to give a shout out to them. They are doing a hell of a job," Raymond said.

Even with all the hardships on the farm, these folks remain optimistic.

"It's quite a challenge, but we are going to do Christmas anyway," Magnan said. "We will get through it."

And with temperatures dipping below zero Tuesday night, getting through it will be an even bigger challenge.

The state also says it is a good idea to put down sand or gravel on walkways where pets or livestock travel to reach food or shelter to avoid potential falls.

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