September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
In the early morning hours of July 28, Brent Koopmann watched the power of water in flashes, as the lightning and floodwaters came and went. They had received 13 inches of rain in almost 24 hours.
A small stream runs through the 240-acre farm he operates with his brother, Chad, near Epworth. There have been quite a few times that his family has watched the rise and fall of that stream since his grandfather bought the farm in 1942.
"We've had some pretty hellacious floods before, but never anything like this," Koopmann said.
"In 66 years here I've never seen anything like this and I hope to never see it again," said Koopmann's uncle, Jerry.
They had never seen the water go over the bridge just down the road from their farm where both Brent and Chad live in separate homes and they had never had to deal with water in the parlor either.
Koopmann went out about midnight to check on things and the water was high but not alarming. He could see the water level when the lightning flashed; however, about an hour later the creek rose in a big hurry. A lot of the city of Farley drains into the stream, including the new subdivision. When about one foot of water fell upstream, it washed downstream in a huge mass.
Brent and Chad knew the water was creeping close to the parlor, so they moved what they could, including the computer and semen tank.
The water went into the parlor sometime between 1:30 and 2 a.m. The water was about a foot deep where the cows stand, which meant the pit of their triple-four Trigon parlor was completely filled up past the receiving jars.
The creek runs through a pasture behind their home. The pasture houses 95 head, including beef cows and their calves, dry cows and heifers.
Koopmann was pretty sure he could see the cattle up against the fence in the darkness but he was not sure. He said when he first looked out he just felt sick to his stomach, thinking that the cattle were gone.Two of the beef cows did get washed about one mile downstream, including going under a bridge, but they were OK.
In the week after the flash flood, Koopmann said he has had to treat cuts and scrapes on at least a half dozen calves which were in that pasture.
The brothers had old machinery near the creek, which ended up getting washed downstream. A hay wagon ended up wound around a tree.
Their milking herd was in another pasture, downstream on the other side of the road. Fortunately that ground is a little higher.
Water went into the freestall barn and the bedding pack was soaked. The skid loader motor was under water so that couldn't be used. It was two days before it was fixed, so it was two days before the stalls were properly bedded again.
The water crested about 3 a.m., going down as fast as it had gone up.
They were able to milk their 112 cows at about 8:30 Thursday morning, just three hours later than normal.
They had to wash and sanitize the milkers and most of the general clean up was done by about 7 p.m.
Usually, when the creek that divides the pasture is too high, the Koopmanns walk the cows up onto the road and back around to the parlor. Since there was about a four foot section carved out next to the bridge, that was not possible. They had to wait for the creek to go back down enough for the cows to swim across.
The Koopmanns blew a capacitor for the compressor, and a hot water heater was also flooded. They were able to re-light the pilot light later that day.
There was about two feet of water in the grain bin, which held about 7,000 bushels of corn. The next day they started up the fans which had been under water and sold the grain within a couple days. The water came into the bin from underneath.
The floodwater also soaked a corn pile and protein pile.
Koopmann said it is not yet possible to know the total extent of the damage, as there will likely be more repairs down the road to bearings and other parts of machinery that were under water.
The milk truck driver had a difficult time getting around on Thursday morning with a number of gravel roads washed out. The bridge next to the Koopmann farm was fixed on Monday, but a full week later back roads still had closed signs at the intersections in the area.
The Koopmanns also had wind damage to their corn in a July 11 windstorm.
"The corn was just flat. I thought that was our damage for the year," Koopmann said.
The positive side to the July 11 windstorm was that the corn had not yet tasseled, so it was able to stand itself back up. "It's amazing what corn will do," he said.
There are about two acres of corn on the Koopmann farm that will likely not be able to be harvested because of the flood water. The water was flowing through that particular area of the corn field fast enough to carry a 220-foot long bag of corn silage about 240 yards from where it had been. The bag now sits in a slight "S" shape in the middle of the corn field. Oddly, the lime is still holding the one end closed. The feed is in good condition. For now they are driving the TMR mixer to the bag in the middle of the field.
"Much of the corn has straightened back up, but the ears were soaked with dirty water inside the husk. It is likely it will have to be plowed under," Brent said.
Brent and Chad took over the farm operation from their dad, Tom, and uncle, Jerry, in January 2007.[[In-content Ad]]