In 2007, Abbie Corse got a message every farmer dreads: “Are your animals ok?”
At the time, Corse was working off farm, while her parents transitioned their dairy into an organic operation. Corse, panicking, called her parents to find out that a fire had ripped through their barn. Luckily, they were able to move their animals out in time, but the recovery period was brutal. Corse’s parents settled their 100-head herd with a neighbor, driving the 20 miles each way twice a day, for months, to milk and care for the cows. Corse and her siblings had heart-wrenching discussions about if the barn was worth rebuilding, as her parents were getting close to retirement. But Corse didn’t want the farm to disappear. So, she rebuilt the barn and took over the operation, the sixth generation to run the Vermont dairy.
As a dairy farmer, Corse has to prepare for fires, floods and all sorts of extreme weather disasters that can impact her animals and her business. She’s seen lightning strikes, 90-mile–per-hour wind storms and hurricane-level rain. “From a farmer’s perspective, there’s an incredible breadth of challenges that are coming because of extreme weather. And they’re incredibly unpredictable,” says Corse. “As you’re structuring your cropping and the livestock rotations, you’re having to actively adapt, sometimes daily, to deal with the weather conditions.” In order to deal with those challenges, Corse does have some contingency plans in place. She has a trailer that can fit some of her animals and enough pasture that she’s hopeful she’ll be able to find space for her cows. But the trauma of that fire stays with her, even now. “If that happened right now, I don’t know that I could continue,” says Corse. “I cannot overemphasizeRead more on modernfarmer.com