Bovine boating: flooded farmer checks his herd by boat

Local News

ALEXANDRIA, SD (KELO) — Thursday’s rain in southeastern KELOLAND is the last thing farmers need for their already saturated fields. It’s been such a wet fall that a farmer near Alexandria, South Dakota has been checking on his livestock by boat.

There are no shortcuts on the farm when you’re dealing with flooding.

“Hang on, mom!”

Richard Aulner carved this back road through his corn crop because the main road to his farm is underwater.

“It makes a lot more work out of everything, is the biggest thing, worrying about things you didn’t use to worry about,” Aulner said.

Thursday morning, Aulner’s tractor got stuck in the mud while leading his cows to shelter from the rain.

“I didn’t make it. They did go, the cows came home,” Aulner said.

In conditions like these, Aulner’s most reliable mode of transportation is a boat his wife just bought him. He can keep track of his livestock while trolling his pasture that’s now a lake, he estimates 20-feet at its deepest.

“It will get you to where you’re going, if you have to get to the other side,” Aulner said.

The flooding has forced Aulner to farm here all by himself. His wife and two kids have a job and school to attend, so for the time being, they’re staying with relatives down the road and avoiding the daily commute through the mud.

“It’s hard, I’m a homebody and it’s been really tough. Really tough. It’s hard on the kids, they have their animals out here,” Bobbie Aulner said.

The Aulners expect that flooded fields could be their reality for months, if not years to come. But they’re tapping into a wellspring of faith and humor to navigate these hard times.

“Pray for something to happen. Pray for it to stop raining! But obviously, that’s not helping,” Bobbie Aulner said.

Aulner says he’ll have to rebuild livestock corrals that are now underwater.

A crew delivered pumping equipment to Aulner’s farm Thursday. The pumps could start running Friday.

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