Dry spring - Farmers relying on irrigation to deal with hot conditions


GILFORD — Dry conditions brought on by a nearly 8-inch deficit in precipitation so far this year is forcing local farmers to rely on irrigation to help them produce the crops that local consumers have come to expect during the summer months, driving up their costs and making it more difficult to manage their operations.
Andy Howe at Beans & Greens, located in Gilford Meadow, said the drop in the water table which has taken pace in recent months reduces the impact of irrigation during the hot and dry weather which the area faces for the foreseeable future.
"The deeper the drought gets, the more challenging it becomes," said Howe, adding that irrigation has no lasting effect at present because the water simply trickles down into the soil to a level too low to be drawn back up by the root systems of the crops.
"If it weren't for black plastic and drip tapes, it would be much worse,'' he said, adding that he has had to have two of his employees devote themselves full-time to the irrigation effort, effectively reducing his work force by 10 percent and slowing the planting of other crops.
In addition to the crops grown in Gilford Meadow, where water is available from Gunstock Brook, Howe also has crops planted in fields at Timber Hill Farm on Gunstock Hill Road, where he uses two conservation ponds for irrigation. "We have to be careful with that water. If we drain it down too far, it takes two to three weeks for the ponds to recharge."
Laconia meteorologist Russ Hobby said nearly half an inch of rain fell on the area early Wednesday but that didn't make much of a dent in the precipitation deficit.

"We were 1.86 inches below normal in April and 1.58 inches below in May," he said. "This month we're 1.73 inches below normal and all of the commercial farms in the area are having to irrigate,'' said Hobby.
He said that the numbers recorded at his Lakeport location show 10.51 inches of precipitation through May, compared to a historical average of 16.55 inches. That's 6.04 inches below normal, and when June's 1.73 deficit is factored in, the deficit to this point is 7.77 inches.
Howe said that the lack of rain didn't lower hay production, which is said is slightly ahead of last year's crop. "We've had great weather for haying, although I see the fields are all brown in some areas, which could mean the second crop won't be as good as usual."
Jeff Keyser of Ramblin' Vewe Farm on Morrill Street, said his hay production was also up over last year, from 4,300 to 4,800 bales, but the fields he mows in Belmont and at Prescott Farm on White Oaks Road in Laconia haven't been as productive this year.
The hay he raises is primarily used to feed the sheep at Rambln' Vewe and he also raises crops at Belmont and Sanbornton locations that his wife sells at the Shepherd's Hut Market at the farm. He said he's grateful for the rain this week at his garden locations but knows that he'll have to irrigate those fields and is hoping that the well at one of those locations won't run dry.
Matthew Swain of Sanbornton, who harvests hay for Swain Farm on Hunkins Pond Road, which is owned by his father, David, said that his hay harvest is down 10 to 15 percent this year, and that if conditions continue to remain dry, "we could be in serious hot water."
He grows crops at Heritage Farm, also on Hunkins Pond Road, not far from his father's farm, and says that he's had to irrigate those fields and is hoping that the well won't run dry.
Picnic Rock Farm on Rte. 3 in Meredith is also irrigating its crops this year according to an employee there, who said that Ward Bird, the farm manager, was to busy in the fields to talk about the dry conditions.
06-29 crops

Elsie Bong from Malaysia, an intern at Beans Greens Farm in Gilford, gets ready to pick some summer squash at the farm, which has had to rely on its irrigation system to produce crops this summer. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

To the rescue - Three Belmont men describe efforts to save kayaker

06-30 kayak rescuers



Tyler Zinland, Tylor Bouchard and Trevor Bouchard were warm and dry in their Belmont home after rescuing a woman who plunged over Clement Dam in Tilton on Sunday. (Gail Ober/Laconia Daily Sun)



BELMONT — Trevor Bouchard knew something was different with river last Sunday.
The 23-year-old construction worker who, along with his brother and an a friend saved a woman who fell over the Clement Dam in Tilton, said he spends a lot of time tubing along the Winnipesaukee River.
"I knew the minute I went around the last curve (before the Riverside Mill) that the water was too shallow," he said Wednesday.
"It was 'rapid-y,'"he said, creating his own descriptive word for how fast the river was flowing.
Trevor, his brother Tylor and roommate Tyler Zinkand were part of a group of friends who took advantage of the hot weather on June 18 and spent the latter part of the afternoon floating down the Winnipesaukee River on giant inner tubes.
Their group of friends were ahead of the woman who plunged over the dam after being thrown from her kayak. She has yet to be identified.
While Trevor, Tyler and Tylor were able to pull themselves out of the river, the woman was not. Tyler, who said he had never been down the river before but was warned by Trevor to get out of the water when he first saw that one of the dam gates was open.
Tyler said he saw the woman get thrown from her kayak after it either came near or hit a rock. He said a man and his dog that were with her were also thrown from theirs, but he was able to get to shore.
She was not able to get to shore and he said he saw her headed down the river toward the dam, where a gate was open. Normally there is a fence to prevent such accidents, but it was missing.
"I began running toward the dam and then ran down the embankment below it," said Tyler, a Department of Transportation construction worker who is a member of the U.S. National Guard, adding he was pretty sure she would be swept down. He said she was yelling for help.
He said he waited at the bottom of the dam but when he didn't see her, he said he ran back up to the top of the dam and saw she was hanging on to a tree branch that had gotten stuck in some rocks about 10 to 15 feet above the dam opening.
Meanwhile, Trevor and Tylor said they saw her hanging on to a tree branch.
Trevor tried to reach her by holding on to an oil boom that was tied to the shore and swimming along the closed part of the dam.
"I kept talking to her and trying to calm her," he said. "I told her they (the fire department) would be here."
All of them said Tilton-Northfield Fire Captain David Hall made an amazing effort to try and reach the woman in a kayak he commandeered from another kayaker.
"He was awesome," they all said, noting that Hall went over the dam himself but was able to get out of the water.
"He was very (mad) that he couldn't reach her, but he did an amazing job," said Trevor.
Tylor, an associate of Snap-On Tools, said he also went into the water to help his brother try and reach the woman but said the oil boom was too short.
"She was really strong," he said, noting she held on to the tree branch for a while but the current was too strong.
The three of them, and a another man named Matt, got out of the water and began running through the woods and bushes down the river.
Still barefoot, all of them ran along the bank through puckerbrushes, climbing two chain link fences in their efforts to find her along the lower part of the river.
"One of them had barbed wire on the top, too," said Tyler.
It was Trevor who saw her first and said he was able to get into the river and pull her to shore. All three said they reached he about a quarter of a mile down river from the dam.
From there, Tyler said he started to use some of his military training to try and stop her from going into shock. The said she was breathing but very shallowly.
Describing her as disoriented, he said the goal was to keep her from losing consciousness by asking her questions until firefighters could get down to the riverside and bring her out.
"Normally, I would want to keep her warm," said Tyler, who added that unfortunately they didn't have anything like that with them because they were wearing wet shorts and little else.
He said they began yelling to the firefighters so they could find them and bring the woman up the embankment to safety.
All three of them said they got a number of small cuts and scratches on themselves from running down the river's edge, mentioning the puckerbrush again.
"One guy who was with them told us that our parents had done a good job of raising us," said Tyler.
They also suggested that the people who manage the dam and the river post a sign just before the last turn that says "Dam Ahead" because people are able to get out of the river before the last bend.
"I know we should have checked to see if the dam was open," said Tyler.
"For future people, check the river," they echoed.
As for the woman, Chief Mike Sitar said she was out of the hospital.
"We don't care about the thanks," said Trevor. "We only care that she is OK."

Free speech at stake - Counter suit filed against Mayhew Funeral Home (370)


OSSIPEE — The owners of a Meredith motorcycle museum have filed a counterclaim to a slander suit against them by the crematorium next door, saying the quality of their lives has been severely diminished by its emissions, odor and noise.

Douglas and Leslyee Frederick have also asked to court to schedule a hearing for a request for a temporary injunction to stop the crematory use by the owners of Mayhew Funeral Home.

The Fredericks are responding to a suit filed against them by Peter Mayhew that asked the court to order them to stop saying in public forums what they claim are lies about his crematory.

For weeks prior to the defamation suit filing in Belknap County Superior Court, they have attended Meredith Board of Selectmen meetings and said that not only are the ashes, noises and smells from the crematory adversely affecting their lives and business, but that they believe the town didn't properly give notice to abutters about building the crematory in 2010.

In their counter suit, the Fredericks made six separate private and public nuisance claims against Mayhew.

The first private claim states the odors that allegedly emanate from the chimney cause "substantial annoyance to a person of ordinary health and normal sensitivities." They claim Mayhew's professional, social or personal utility of the facility does not outweigh their discomfort.

The second claims the substantive emissions of "smoke, ash-like material (and) fine particulate matter" have caused and are causing interference with the use of their property.

Third, the Fredericks claim the noise from the incinerator have interfered with their personal enjoyment of their property.

Because of the business nature of the American Police Motorcycle Museum, the Fredericks claim the noise, odor and material discharges have created a public nuisance as well.

There has been no date set for a hearing on the Fredericks' request for an injunction that, if granted, would stop the Mayhews from using the crematory. Oral arguments regarding Mayhew's threat to file a slander suit were held on June 6, however, to date, Judge Amy Ignatius has not issued an opinion.

The case was originally filed in Belknap County Superior Court but was sent to Carroll County Superior Court because of a conflict.