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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Drought stresses farmers along Pennsylvania's northern tier

By Nick Malawskey |
Penn Live.Com

ULYSSES — The unnamed brook starts somewhere near the ridgeline above this narrow, tree-lined hollow. It runs downhill through the neat-looking farm fields on the hillside before crossing under a gravel and stone road — an improbable state route — and joining with Ludington Run, which meanders through the hills before joining the Genesee River near the small farming town of Ulysses, high in Potter County.

This slice of Pennsylvania is called "God's Country," a claim that is at the same time both a boast and a simple statement of fact.

For on a blue-sky day, when the bounds of the sky are seemingly constrained only by the tree-lined ridges, and the quiet is broken only by the soft whisper of the wind or the cry of a hawk, it is hard not to feel the hand of the creator or a touch of the divine at work. To become lost, if only for a moment, in a deep sense of peace that resides in the narrow valleys that shape this region of the northern Allegheny Plateau.

For most of the 70 years he's been on Earth, Gene Kosa has been farming this narrow valley in Potter County, fields his family has tended since his grandfather arrived in the mid-1920s.

In all that time, he said, there almost always has been water. But this year, after a 40-day string in June and July when no rain fell as the sun blazed down into this little valley and the other valleys of north-central Pennsylvania, the brook is dry.

"There's just no water here," Kosa said on a cloudless September afternoon as temperatures approached 80 degrees. "I've never seen anything like this year. ... It just doesn't happen."  Read more....

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