Larry Burton is a much different kind of farmer today than he was 7 years ago. Realizing tobacco was no longer a money maker, he turned his Pulaski Co. fields to pumpkin patches and corn mazes and opened it all up to field trips and tourism at Bear Wallow Farm. But this year it's been a bit rough going thanks to days of dry weather.
“Luckily we probably have enough to survive,” says Burton.
Burton's pumpkin fields don't carry nearly the harvest it did last year. A stalk that would normally have 5 or 6 pumpkins on it only has 2. And as for the hay ride, by the time you feed the animals and make a few decorations, there isn't enough left over to put in the wagons.
“We had to build benches in the hay wagons. I guess we'll call them wagon rides now. We didn't have the hay to spare,” says Burton.
And just a ways down Hwy 80, there's Haney's Appledale Farm. Only this year you might be hard pressed to find the abundant fruit crop Mark and his brother Don grew last year.
It's been a double whammy for the Haneys. First a late spring freeze killed 100 percent of the peach crop and most of the apples. The apples that survived the freeze and the drought show their struggle in their small size. You can still buy apples at their market but you can't pick them yourself.
“We've always had u-pick on our farm. A tradition for 30 years. But this is not the year for it,” says Mark Haney.