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Vermont hay farmers struggle with wet fields - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vermont hay farmers struggle with wet fields

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CHESTER, Vt. -

Rick Bliss starts every morning under a black and white picture of his grandfather checking out the forecast.

"I usually start with the table," he said.

Since May, Bliss says this daily routine has been discouraging.

"This year has been really hard with the rain. It just goes on and on," he said.

Bliss is the owner of Bliss Farm in Chester, one of the largest distributors of hay in the area. Each year, Bliss says he sells around 800 tons of hay to more than 200 customers statewide. But this year his equipment isn't being put to use and his customers are getting their hay much later in the season.

"We are three to four weeks behind right now," Bliss said.

In order to harvest the hay, Bliss says there only needs to be three days of dry weather. But this season, that's been a rarity.

"When you do get three good days, you have to be content with the ground being wet, that's also a factor," Bliss said.

A damp season also affects the quality of the hay.

"It loses its vitamin E and its protein so you have to feed more grain," said Richard Smith of Weathersfield.

Smith has been one of Bliss' customers for over a decade. He buys between 2,000-3,000 bales of hay each year to feed his riding horses. And when the quality of hay is lower, even the horses can tell.

"They pick it over. So if you get hay this late in the season, probably about half of the bale the horses don't like," Smith said.

Over the past two decades, Bliss says he would put this season in the top three worst years. But with the weather being out of his control, he says all he can do is hope for better weather ahead.

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