Local hay producer bounces back after last summer's floods

Cache Creek_It's been less than a year since the floods, but already one local farmer is bouncing back.  Last June, Joe McMahan lost 90-percent of his hay crop when East Cache Creek's flooding current rushed right across his fields.  He estimates he lost tens of thousands of dollars because of the flooding, and was worried he wouldn't make it through the winter.  But he did.

He says his fields have completely bounced back. Following last summer's floods, and the drought the year before, it's been a tough road for McMahan's farms; but now wheat prices are up, and he says it's the "prettiest" crop he's had in a decade.

Last June hay producer Joe McMahan had his hay crop cut and ready to be baled. But then the rain started falling, and East Cache Creek flooded his fields, sweeping away everything. "We lost 350 acres of hay just from floods, had hay fields that were four foot deep, then we just had to start the straightening out process," McMahan said. "So it was a real crunch on my income last year."

Less than a year later, the sun is shining over the best hay crop he's had in ten years. "Thanks to understanding bankers and the good Lord we've made it through it," he said.

But damage from the flooding is still there, like these fences, still weighed down in debris. And the hit to his pocketbook hurt long after the flood waters receded. He was able to make some money off of what little wheat he had; but he lost his entire hay crop, which is about 90-percent of his yearly income. "The last couple months around my house has just been back to the basics," he said."  "If we didn't have to have it, we didn't buy it."

He reads the farmer's almanac religiously, and says this year should be perfect: no drought, no floods. "So if the farmer's almanac's right, we'll be alright this year," he said.

But he's not counting on the weather cooperating until we get through the end of May. "I'm looking for another 60 days to go by and hopefully I'm healed again," he said.

McMahan is mainly a hay producer, but his fields are so damaged, this year he planted mostly wheat; which is turning out to be a great choice. Because today wheat prices closed more than triple their usual price.