DEERBROOK - Wisconsin farmers depend on alfalfa crop for feeding dairy cows.
Usually, alfalfa survives winter.
But a long, cold, and difficult winter is making things hard for many farmers.
"That's rot. The plant is green, and it's growing but it's not going to make another cutting," said farmer Jason Nagel.
This year's growing season will be a challenge for him.
"We had to scramble fast, we had to start tearing up fields that we anticipated to have hay off of," said Nagel.
450 of Jason's 510 acres are ruined, and instead of full green fields, we see patchy, crunchy, dead alfalfa.
Crop Consultant Chuck Bolte says a year of weird weather is to blame.
"Basically our issues this year were with the winter weather and last year's drought at the end of the growing season. And that's affected a lot of the alfalfa that was in the ground and we have a lot of winter kill," said Bolte "For the dairy farms of Langlade county and north eastern WI, alfalfa wise we're pretty desperate."
Winter kill affected 90 percent of alfalfa crops.
"When I walked the fields with our insurance adjuster the one day, it was the sickest feeling I've had in years. You walk out and you've got this brown stubble that's here. There's nothing there. And you have eleven hundred animals to feed," said Nagel.
Alfalfa crop from this farm goes directly into silage, which gets fed to about 600 dairy cows.
The temporary fix for feeding 600 cows means outsourcing feed, re-planting hundreds of acres and hoping for the best.
"We can do everything we think is right, we can follow the textbook, follow the research we can follow everybody's advice, but in the end it's what mother nature deals us," said Nagel.
RHINELANDER - A large open lot on Rhinelander's east side could soon fill in with a chain restaurant.
Cory Moritz-Hoffmann and her husband hope to build a Pizza Ranch next to Kwik Trip on Eisenhower Parkway. The pair of former Pine Lake firefighters got the idea about six years ago when they first went to a Pizza Ranch in Iowa.
They considered pursing a franchise then, but it was more than they could afford at the time. About two years ago, the Hoffmanns contacted an investor and saw an opportunity to turn their dream into a reality.
RHINELANDER - The Oneida-Vilas Transit Commission will get its long-awaited federal funding installment by October 4.
The timing means no Northwoods Transit Connections drivers will have to voluntarily furlough their pay, but the requirement of 24-hour advance notice for rides will stay in place.
Transit Commission Chair Erv Teichmiller learned the news over the weekend.
The commission is waiting on an expected payment of $300,000 from the federal government. In 2016, that money came in early September. As of last Friday, the commission wasn't expecting the payment until as late as November.
RHINELANDER - A Rhinelander factory that makes smoke flavoring caught fire early Monday morning.
Shortly before 6:00 a.m., Rhinelander, Crescent and Newbold Fire Departments responded to a fire at Red Arrow Products on Rhinelander's west side.
An employee says there were about eight workers inside at the time.
No one was injured.
"Flames were coming out of a conveyor area as high as the roof. We made an interior attack and knocked that flame down. Came in from the other side of the partition wall, then made another interior attack and knocked that down," says Chief Terry Williams.
As of 7:30 a.m. Monday morning, firefighters were still working to make sure the flames were out.
HARSHAW - Oneida County sheriff's deputies found three runaway sisters, ages 14, 14, and 12, in the woods in Harshaw just after 1 p.m. on Monday.
The sisters had been reported missing by their parents Monday morning. The parents had gone to wake the girls up for school, but instead found a note saying they had gone on an "adventure."
The missing girls triggered a search from the Oneida County Sheriff's Office Special Response Unit, Newbold Fire Department Search and Rescue, Minocqua Fire Department, Lake Tomahawk Fire Department, and Little Rice Fire Department.
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