Many connected through land, water
by Jill Aho, Herald and News 7/28/09
Lois Struve sits in her tidy country home, watching her land
wither away as oppressive heat bakes the earth outside her
She worries that her pastures will die soon.
Struve, like many of her neighbors, has had no water deliveries to
her Langell Valley acreage outside Bonanza since July 7 when the
Bureau of Reclamation shut off irrigation to the area.
Arie and Jenneke deJong, who operate a local organic dairy, rent
her pastures for their cows.
“He has to pull his cows out and feed them, or look for other
pasture, and I don’t know where he’ll find it,” Struve says.
For some 20 years the deJong dairy has rented Struve’s land, and
although the conversation has yet to happen.
Struve knows one day deJong will be forced to move his cows off
her pasture. She will then be required to refund some of his
Tears well up in Struve’s eyes as she describes the hardest part
of the water shutoff.
“It’s hard to see your place just dry up. If it’s a year that
there’s no water, that’s one thing. But to have to see your
pastures just drying up, it’s hard. There’s a lot of people, they
depend on that,” she says. “They depend on their crops.”
Jenneke deJong decided to rent more organic pastureland this year
because the dairy plans to expand. It was a near miss in deJong’s
“We fortunately had rented (that) extra organic pasture. If we
wouldn’t have, ultimately it could cost us our organic
certification,” she said.
Part of the organic certification is that deJong’s heifers will
graze on pastures, she says.