She farms a spread near
Now they have three.
O'Neill wants to focus on cattle -- she is, in fact, currently studying for a PhD in beef nutrition.
"We were fixing to start calving," her father said. But much of the farm wound up under three to eight feet of water from flooding and 60 cattle -- valued at about
The farm also lost 10 pigs and virtually all of its crops. Cox pointed to 100 circular bales of hay -- though they'd been harvested and wrapped in plastic to cure, flood waters had gotten to them and any crop that was flooded is considered destroyed.
O'Neill said their lagoon was also overwashed -- "We're very careful to follow all the rules, and keep it at a level where it won't overflow," she said. But the river's overflow spilled into it and carried hog waste away. "You can't control nature," she said.
The two stood in a field overlooking the farm -- a field that had been growing alfalfa for the cattle. O'Neill said it had simply been mud for several days after the flood. Grass is springing up now and it's green, but the grass is of a waxy type that cows can't easily digest.
They don't know how much money they will be able to get from government agencies such as
They are by no means the only farmers hit hard in the area. Numerous farms in
And, while Cox and O'Neill both believe farming is strong in their area, they have been battling setbacks, including lawsuits against the industrial-style hog and chicken producers, and the negative view many have of them. "The hog farms aren't too popular now," he admitted.
Cox said that, compared to some farmers, "We were blessed. We only lost some cows, but not our house." Some farmers lost everything -- including their house. And most farmers don't have flood insurance -- "We can't afford flood insurance." He knows of a few who see Florence as the last straw, who may now leave agriculture.
Still, farming "will recover," Cox said. "We don't know whose gonna own it. Some folks might have to sell it." He added that, while he hopes he will be able to hang onto his farm, it is possible he'll have to sell as well.
But, though it will be a long, slow road, Cox and O'Neill both believe they will recover. "We're in survival mode," Cox said. "We'll be in survival mode for six months. We're taking it one day at a time."
(c)2018 the Sun Journal (New Bern, N.C.)
Visit the Sun Journal (New Bern, N.C.) at http://www.newbernsj.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.