Iowa State teaching farms reflect on flood devastation

Tessa Callender

This year’s flooding that took place in Ames mid-August had widespread effects on campus, and Iowa State’s teaching farms didn’t escape the rising waters.

The teaching farms include dairy, swine, beef, sheep, poultry, equine and the Ag 450 Farm. Overall, damages included approximately $10,000 in hay loss, $3,000 in fence damage, $1,000 in roof damages and $2,000 for extra cleanup labor.

“We had some 250 large, round hay bales that got wet and stood in the water, up to 3 feet, and we could lose half of its feed value — approximately 100 tons of feed,” said Marshall Ruble, research station manager at the Beef Teaching Farm.

In addition, the horse pasture, located on 13th Street, is covered in sand, while the fences will have to be repaired, and partially replaced. There was also pasture and crop loss due to the resulting standing water.

Managers of the farms were first and foremost concerned about losing water and not being able to hydrate the animals in the 90-degree temperatures because the farms rely on the city of Ames for water.

The city of Ames had water main breaks due to the flooding that occurred Aug. 11, and managers of the farms were initially told they would be without water for three to four days.

“We were freaking out at that point,” said Dan Morrical, farm coordinator.

Luckily, the water situation turned out to be less of a deal than initially expected, since the farms’ lack of water only lasted for about five hours. They were able to run water backwards from the dairy farm, which can also run on rural well water.

Nevertheless, farm managers were ready for anything if their predicament turned out to what they first thought it might be.

“We were prepared, with the help of the agronomy department, to provide trailers with large water tanks so that we could haul water to our livestock and to soak the pigs down to keep them cool,” said Jay Lampe, manager of the swine farms.

Some of those involved this year even remember a similar situation during the floods of 1993.

“I was here for a trial run in 1993, and we had more water in different places on the farm,” Ruble said. “The biggest concern was when we lost water for nine hours with a 110-degree heat index. We got through it with zero death loss at all the farms.”

Fortunately, in the recent flood there were also no animal casualties.

“Our animals were at least on high ground and not standing in water or exposed to the elements through the flooding,” Lampe said.

Though an ordeal none of the farm managers saw coming, or the city of Ames for that matter, the situation was dealt with efficiently and taken care of the best way it could be to minimize losses.

“Farm managers dug in and took action quickly to provide alternative water for the livestock,” Morrical said. “Their quick and cooperative actions are greatly appreciated.”