No Snow Day for Farmers


Chipping away at the frozen tundra, Kristen Klein treads carefully while fixing a fence.

"I about fell right in the water. I didn't, luckily," he said.

Freezing rain, sleet, and hail pummeled much of central Nebraska on Tuesday. By Wednesday, Klein could only laugh.

"Great April morning," he said with a smile.

He drove around the farm on his all-terrain vehicle, looking through an iced–over windshield. Despite the weather, he had work to do.

"I wish we had snow days," he said. "We can't call the boss and say is it a snow day today?"

It's been a season of extremes. The day before the ice, it was 70 degrees according to the National Weather Service. The wind chill that followed dropped to 9 degrees -- a 60 degree swing. Even in mid March, Kristen's kids ran around in shorts as they played on the farm.

Now he's bundled up, trying to care for his animals in what he calls "miserable" weather.

He said, "We had a couple of newborn calves, tailing off on calving, but had two that were born yesterday and about frozen to death. Got both of them in the garage in the house under heat."

Not only do the Kleins raise cattle, they grow corn. And the seed should be going in the ground soon.

Kristen said, "The calendar says we ought to be getting the planter out of the building, but I'm not sure we're going to this week."

Farmers will take the precipitation, even if it did put planting on ice.

"We need moisture for pastures, trying to green up and if they get started too soon, that's not good and of course definitely for crops," he said.

A week that started in the 60s should warm back up to that. This icy mess appears to be a brief detour, and farmers know that better than almost anyone.

"Stick around in Nebraska, it'll change," Kristen said with a laugh. Corn planting should begin within a few days, but likely this will delay the start.

As for Kristen – he got his newborn calves in the heat and got his fence fixed and he hopes this all soaks in, with 95 percent of the state still in extreme drought.