OTTAWA, Kan. — Rainy weather from Tuesday into Wednesday is answering some farmers’ prayers. At the same time, some drivers are cursing the slow-downs from standing water on the roads.
That’s the situation southwest of the metro where the rain is welcomed back to Kansas like an old friend with an abrasive personality, that makes you wonder how long it’s staying around in places like Franklin County.
The fields were as flooded as the rain gauges on Wednesday in Ottawa, Kansas,
People in the area say that overnight they measured seven, eight, even nine inches of rain. That lead to situations like the one off of K-68, where overflowing creek beds pushed out into, thankfully, already harvested farm fields.
Extreme low-visibility conditions hit I-35 nearby at midday. It forced some semis to put on their hazard lights and proceed slowly with caution.
As the rain temporarily slowed in the afternoon, flash flooding crept over streets, particularly in low-lying gravel roads surrounding the farm fields of Ottawa.
That includes near the Shadeland Stock Farm which specializes in bison.
“These guys pretty much take care of themselves. I just bring food out to them as you can see,” said Rick Carlson, who is just one of the farmers in this family’s operation.
“The breeder bull is 1,800 plus [pounds]. Yeah, they’re just like us guys. They got all the testosterone,” he said, throwing feed to the group of Bison surrounding a pick-up truck.
Carlson said despite the rain, summer drought conditions have thrown the year off, forcing them to feed their 65-head herd by supplementing with grass grown off-site instead of what comes up in their fields.
“We had the perfect bean crop coming on this year that we’ve ever had. And with 125 [degree] days, that was it. The crop went from ‘Oh my, looking really good’, to nothing,” Carlson said.
They’re also wild animals, doing well in wet conditions.
So when the rain came overnight, dumping seven inches, according to their rain gauge, Rick thought, “well thank you good Lord. We appreciate it. It’s about time,” he said with a laugh.
“People always say, ‘What kind of fence does it take?’ It takes a happy fence. You keep ’em happy on your side,” Carlson said.
“They’ve been moving a lot. You know ‘Where the buffalo roam?’ These guys have wanted to roam all summer long because of the drought and they’re not getting the grass that they like,” Carlson said.
The rain also helped with winter drinking water for the bison.
“We rely on the farm ponds for watering all year long and the farm ponds were getting critically low,” Carlson said.
He added that if their ponds get too low it’s not just the top layer that freezes, it freezes all the way to the ground. So this rain likely will help provide that water source headed into winter.